When I was a boy I loved scary movies so my brother Arthur took me to see Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. That night, even though it was a comedy, I had terrible nightmares and ran into my parents room screaming.
When I got older, The Bride of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester was my favorite monster flick.
So why am I even mentioning these classic movies? Its simple, the Benedict Castle in Riverside, California, for the last two years the site of a fantastic concours, is the location where those Frankenstein movies were filmed. So was the greatest movie version of the Victor Hugo classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, shot in 1939 with Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda and Charles Laughton as Quasimodo.
I was as excited to hear such facts as I was about this exclusive car show, now in its second edition. Crossroads Car Shows, producer of the event with show founder Nicole Meguiar-Northcote (daughter of Barry Meguiar) and her husband, Donovan, are passionate about promoting this concours as all the Crossroads car shows benefit Southern California Teen Challenge International (the largest addiction recovery program in the world).
More than 300 exceptional examples of vintage and classic cars were displayed on the terraced lawns encompassing the alluring castle, each readied for judging and awards with special guest emcee Dave McClelland the long-time former “voice of the NHRA.”
Also present as grand marshall was 94-year-old legendary “Camfather” Ed “Isky” Iskenderian, who told stories to young and old and signed autographs in the castle courtyard. “Isky” was involved in the creation of SEMA (the Specialty Equipment Market Association) and was its first president of the group comprising automotive aftermarket product producers.
Prime examples of the car hobby graced the verdant lawns of the castle that included Pebble Beach-winning classics, Grand National Roadster show-winning hot rods, Japanese classics, as well as a stupendous custom called the 1955 Ford “Beatnik” Bubbletop created by award winning custom car artist Gary “Chopit” Fioto.
The later is a masterpiece in metal, an eclectic mix of Cadillac, Chrysler and Lincoln components with canted quad headlights. The power plant is a highly detailed 400-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch small–block V8 with stainless steel braided hoses and six carbs linked to a GM automatic transmission.
One of the most popular attractions at the show was the George Barris 1966 Batmobile TV show car. The Batmobile was built from the 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car and now is probably the world’s most famous car.
The brilliant sunny day was filled with activities from strolling the grounds and visually devouring the automotive delights to enjoying the live bands, relaxing at the English High Tea and fashion show, having an authentic Southwestern lunch at the Petersen Automotive VIP Pavilion and partaking of the on-going guided tours of the Benedict Castle, a structure that took nine years to build, starting in 1922.
The award procession was a parade of some to the finest cars in the country, including the 1973 Nissan Skyline, a stunning 1933 Packard 1005 2-door coupe, a gorgeous 1960 Cadillac convertible, a significant 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible (with a fuel-injected V8 engine), a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro in Hugger Orange, and last but not least, the Best of Show, a superb 1913 Mercedes Model 37/95 Double Phaeton-Torpedo from the Nethercutt Collection.
The Benedict Castle Concours is definitely one to put on your bucket list.
More info visit the event website.
Photos by Howard Koby