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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.

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Woodward Dream Cruise Ready to Roll

Annual event expected to draw over 1 million to Detroit.

by on Aug.16, 2013

The Woodward Dream Cruise, Detroit’s annual celebration of the automobile, officially revs up with a roar this weekend – though the Motor City’s main thoroughfare has already seen thousands of cruisers take to the streets for practice runs this past week.

If past is prologue, as many as 60,000 classic muscle cars, hot rods and antiques – along with some even odder wheeled creations – will roll down Woodward for the 19th annual Dream Cruise. Organizers and community officials also expect to see anywhere from 1 million to 1.5 million spectators, including a steadily growing number from out of state who will have traveled to Detroit specifically for the Dream Cruise,

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The event began almost by accident when suburban Detroit plumber Nelson House suggested his car club stage a rolling event rather than the usual car show with a collection of muscle cars and hot rods statically lined up in a parking lot.  The inaugural event in August 1995 was expected to draw perhaps 40,000 collectors and fans. At least 250,000 showed up.

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2012 Pebble Beach Concours: The World’s Most Exclusive Traffic Jam

From swan cars to Saoutchiks.

by on Aug.20, 2012

Paul and Judy Andrews with their best-in-show 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo.

There’s some small comfort in creeping along in traffic knowing that the car ahead is a 250 mph Bugatti Veyron worth $1.4 million while the one in your rearview mirror is a lovingly restored Talbot-Lago that could easily command several times as much money.

So it goes as you creep around California’s Monterey Peninsula during the annual Pebble Beach Concours weekend.  What began as a one-day car show, 62 years ago, has now become a week of events aiming to appeal to every motoring taste and budget, from the low-brow Tour d’Lemons, a tongue-in-cheek gathering of some of the worst cars ever built, to the Historics where some of the most legendary classic race cars in the world come back to life at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

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But the capstone is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a gathering of rare and exotic sheet metal generally considered to be the single most elegant collection of classic automobiles assembled anywhere in the world each year.

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Cruise In All Weekend!

Extensive coverage to follow all weekend from the Woodward Dream Cruise and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance!

by on Aug.19, 2011

Photo by Len Katz.It’s going to be a busy weekend for car fans! The annual Woodward Dream Cruise is expected to bring out more than 1 million muscle car mavens as 10s of thousands of ‘Cudas, Goats and ‘Stangs – along with the odd Ferrari and Triumph — spend the weekend showing their stuff off along Detroit’s Boulevard of Automotive Dreams.

The West Coast weighs in with another classic car show, this one drawing some of the world’s most well-preserved Packards, Bugattis, Duesenbergs and Talbot-Lagos to the 19th hole at the tony Pebble Beach Resort.

TheDetroitBureau.com will be covering both the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise and the ’11 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and will file ongoing reports all weekend — so keep coming back for more, along with our regular coverage of the automotive world.

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.

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Designed to Please

Focus is on styling at annual Eyes on Design extravaganza.

by on Jun.21, 2011

Bob Lutz with his father's Aston Martin DB2 Vantage.

There was something familiar about the car stuck in the back of a Swiss restoration shop, something Bob Lutz confirmed when he found the ancient owner’s manual and saw the neat notations made by his father nearly a half century earlier.

It took Lutz, the now-retired General Motors car czar just moments to decide to buy the old 1952 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage and ship it home to begin a long and laborious restoration process.  But it eventually paid off, the one-time Marine pilot winning a Best-in-Class trophy, this past weekend, at the annual Eyes on Design show.

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“The car was a mess,” recalls Lutz, having gone through several inappropriate modifications, “but it was my dad’s so I bought it.”  Ironically, the long-time industry icon admits, he could have gotten it from his father in 1959, “But I was in the Marines, then, and had no place to keep it.”

There were plenty of treasures found and restored on display at the Eyes on Design event, held each year at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford mansion, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

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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.

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