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Rare Barn Finds Among the Highlights at 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

"It was a part of history."

by on Aug.22, 2016

Best-in-Show, Eric Clapton, the one-time owner of this 1936 Lancia called it the most fun he's ever had off-stage and out of bed.

“I took a mortgage on my home because it was the most expensive car I ever bought. Then I took it home in boxes and pieces,” says Lothar Schuettler, a Darnestown, Maryland, collector, as he shows off his 1937 BMW 328 Roadster.

It took Schuettler six years to put all those pieces back together, the retired executive estimating he did about 80% of the work himself, everything from cutting and shaping the steamed oak pieces that formed the frames for the rear fenders to recreating missing screws and bolts that needed to match the original factory pieces.

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But, “It needed to be done. It was a part of history,” said Schuettler, standing on the 18th fairway at the tony Pebble Beach golf course. He was one of about 200 collectors participating in the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, generally considered the world’s most elegant and exclusive classic car show.


Picking the Best-of-the-Best at Pebble Beach

Rare win for an American classic at Concours d’Elegance.

by on Aug.19, 2013

A 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria owned by Joseph and Margie Cassini of West Orange, NJ takes honors as the winner of the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Photo Courtesy Autoblog.

It’s been a couple of nail-biting weeks for Jeff Lotman. The Los Angeles car collector has been waiting three years to see the final results of the costly, ground-up restoration of his 1957 BMW 507 Roadster. He might have been fine with the wait if he hadn’t entered the groundbreaking two-seater into the annual Pebble Beach Councours d’Elegance.

There are collectors who wait years to get an invitation to exhibit on the lawn of the Lodge at Pebble Beach, something Lotman described as “the pinnacle” for “a car guy.”  And he’s not alone. A select group of 275 rare and unusual automobiles were on display this weekend, more than a few just barely making it after restorations that could take years and, in some cases cost more than $1 million to complete.

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These days, there are dozens of significant classic car shows around the U.S.  Indeed, more than a million people gathered in the suburbs of Detroit over the weekend for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise, an homage to the era of hot rods and muscle cars. But no event quite matches the grandeur – or celebrity of the Pebble Beach Concours, an event that boasts a mix of four-wheeled and two-legged celebrities that routinely includes the likes of actor Jerry Seinfeld and TV talk show host Jay Leno, the latter visible seemingly everywhere shaking hands with fans and taping scenes for his own collector car program.


Concours of America Finds Life After Meadowbrook

Bigger than ever, gathering highlights 100 years of Indy.

by on Aug.01, 2011

Best in Show Winners: a 1933 Dusenberg Model SJ owned by John D. Groendyke, and a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier owned by Arturo & Deborah Keller. Photo by Len Katz.

One of the nation’s largest historic car shows got off without a hitch over the weekend.  That might not seem like a story worth telling but for the fact that what had been known, for more than 30 years, as the Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance made a major move this time, not only finding a new home but adding an assortment of new events – and nearly 50% more classic cars.

Renamed the Concours d’Elegance of America, the show abandoned its long-time venue at the old Meadowbrook estate, onetime home of auto pioneer Horace and Matilda Dodge.  Its new home is the Inn at St. John’s a former Catholic Church retreat  the far west edge of metro Detroit.  The move had many long-time fans – and some organizers – worried.  But the effort was rewarded by overflow attendance – never mind one of the best car collections the Concours has ever drawn.

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Spread out across the sprawling grounds of the Inn were more than 325 vehicles – including 30 rare Indy cars tracing the 100-year history of the Indianapolis 500.  Organizers also expanded the traditional definition of a classic car show by luring in eight legendary drag racing funny cars.


The Beginning of the End: The ’40 Ford

When America marched off to war, the ’40 Ford was waiting on the home front.

by on Jul.18, 2011

One of the most influential cars of its era, the 1940 Ford, is subject of a new book.

In the dark days before America was plunged into war, the nation’s smokestacks were finally beginning to belch smoke again, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Detroit, the auto industry finally ramping up after more than a decade of the Great Depression.

It was an era of grand transformation as automakers began experimenting with more powerful engines, automatic transmissions, air conditioning and streamlined, often art deco styling. Some of the most striking designs emerged from the studios of Ford Motor Co.

Yet few knew that the ’40 Ford, in particular, would mark the beginning of the end. Not long after its introduction, the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor would send the nation into full conversion to wartime manufacturing. And, for many enlistees and draftees heading off to war, a ’40 Ford was the car they would dream about owning once they finally returned home. Film fans may recall that Actor John Payne was driving a ’40 Ford coupe in the closing scenes of 1947′s “Miracle on 34th Street.”

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Now Detroit Author Joe Cabadas—“in cooperation with The Henry Ford”— gives us a close look at the era leading up to the ’40 Ford in a new “coffee table” type book aimed at Ford enthusiasts in particular and automotive historians generally. The somewhat short-changing title is ’40 Ford, a label dictated by publisher Motorbooks.

In case you’re not familiar with the name, The Henry Ford, it’s the new handle for the long-known number one tourist attraction in Michigan, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.


Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

Enchanted April, unsurpassable automobiles.

by on Apr.30, 2009

Enchanted April, at least along Italy's Lake Como, means one of the world's most heralded classic car shows, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

Enchanted April, at least along Italy's Lake Como, means one of the world's most heralded classic car shows, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

There’s something about spring in Northern Italy that makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto a movie set.  Maybe it’s the soft light or the gentle breeze as our boat slowly rounds a bend on Lake Como and the lush grounds of Villa d’Este suddenly come into sight.

At first, the palatial hotel, with its trompe l’oeil columns, dominates the vista, but as we draw closer, we remember the reason we’re here, dozens of classic cars sprawling across the estate’s grounds.

The Concorso Eleganza Villa d’Este is neither the first classic car show of the season, nor the largest.  But it is perhaps the most charming and delightful, a setting even more lovely than the grounds of Pebble Beach and a collection of rare and amazing automobiles that few, if any, other Concours can match.