Michigan has been a hotbed of vintage car action recently in more ways than one. It’s been uncomfortably hot and humid, but the selection of fine concours and exhibitions has thankfully made up for it. Several suburbs surrounding Detroit have been host to the Eyes on Design Exhibition, the Concours at Cranbrook, and the combined Concorso d’Italia and Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance that took place this past weekend. It’s hard to imagine how Pebble Beach can rival what we’ve already seen this year. We're proud to present a 150-shot slideshow
of the Concours highlights
In only its second year being held at Meadow Brook Hall, Concorso d’Italia took place alongside the renowned Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. D’Italia only consisted of Italian marques as expected, however one could easily get confused in several of the nearby Concours classes since they also had Italian cars in the mix. It was disappointing to see numerous repeat entries from last year’s event as well as a substantially lower amount registered in comparison to previous occasions. Nonetheless, a few excellent examples were deservedly recognized with class awards. Ferrari was well represented with a few 250 variants, including a GT Tour de France and California Spider with a rare hardtop. A number of Alfa Romeo Giuliettas were highlighted by a very smooth Sprint Speciale, while a Ghia designed Desoto Adventurer II exhibited the sleek airplane styling cues of the 50’s.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t a red car that won the Concorso d’Italia Best in Show, but instead a spectacular black Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta. This completely original two-seater is the last Barchetta ever built and the last non-racing Ferrari bodied by Touring. It was customized with whitewall tires and left hand drive before Enzo Ferrari gave it to Henry Ford II as a present.
Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance
This year’s focus on ‘Brass Era’ cars began a three year series, with Golden Era Classics of pre-World War II and Power Cars of post-World War II to follow in 2006 and 2007 respectively. While circling the Brass Cars ring, spectators were treated to some short melodies played with a small steam pipe organ on a Stanley Steamer Runabout that suitably won the Engineering Excellence Award. Elsewhere, rivalries were renewed as a Mercer Raceabout was located only steps away from a brilliant yellow Stutz Bearcat. Rumours were heard of a friendly drag race challenge made by the Mercer owner, but thankfully the cars remained on the field, in one piece. Concours cars like these are notorious for tireless hours of cleaning and detailing however the Somers family had a relaxing day with their original unrestored Austin Touring. Family-owned since new, this large six-seater was presented with the Preservation award for most original car.
A small ring of 100 year old vehicles displayed some forgotten names such as Marr, Locomobile, and Reo. As a rule, all entries must be able to drive onto the grounds under their own power if they’re to be judged. That resulted in some very interesting displays of completely operational century old engineering. It was exciting to see some of the pioneers in automobile development that we frequently forget. In complete contrast, eight Hemi-powered convertibles formed a ring of possibly the most valuable muscle cars today consisting of seven Cudas and one Challenger.
As usual, classic car companies such as Duesenberg, Packard, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, and Lincoln were all in attendance, with notable mention to a one of a kind Rolls Royce Silver Wraith that won the Peoples Choice award. The Meadow Brook Hall Memorial Trophy is awarded for special recognition by chief designers and was given to the curvaceous Delahaye Figoni et Falaschi Coupe. Two Best of Show awards were offered this year; one for American cars and the other for Foreign. Best of Show – American was awarded to a stunning black 1929 Duesenberg J LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton owned by Terence Adderley. Arturo Keller appeared to be holding all the cards at this year’s concours as he collected the Most Significant Mercedes-Benz Trophy and Best of Show – Foreign with his 1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK Murphy Roadster. That adds yet another Best of Show trophy to Mr. Keller’s unparalleled collection of custom bodied Mercedes.
The combination of these two shows clearly assisted the organizers with preparation and cleanup but I can only assume there was less revenue with a one-day affair. Over 300 cars and two lengthy awards ceremonies along with the scorching sun made for a long day for this journalist and I presume the same for many spectators and exhibitors. In the end, the Meadow Brook Concours and Concorso d’Italia executive performed their usual mastery of providing outstanding automotive examples in a magnificent location.