Long ranked among the country’s top-tier concours, the Concours d’Elegance of America (formerly known as Meadow Brook for its original venue) continued to expand its scope in its 38th year. Spread across the golf course behind the Inn at St. John’s, a former seminary converted to a resort in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth, Michigan, attendees could find everything from Enthusiast of the Year Barry Meguiar’s 1901 Duryea to a Bugatti Veyron and a 2017 Porsche 991 in a circle of modern supercars.
The core, and the top awards, remained centered on the coachbuilt Classic-era jewels, including classes devoted to Pierce-Arrow, cars with bodies by Dietrich, and the stunning collection of James Patterson Sr. and his son James Patterson II. The latter circle included cars that have won awards at major concours worldwide, such as a 1938 Delage and 1937 Bugatti Atalanta. The Pattersons were honored as Collectors of the Year.
While best-in-show honors went to a Packard that had previously won at Pebble Beach (2013) and a Talbot-Lago that’s been making the rounds of major concours since 2011, the concours reached out to other elements of the car enthusiast crowd with classes for drag racing cars (a treat to see—and hear—as they rumbled across the field to receive awards), rally cars, a circle of “Jet Age Travel Trucks” and another marking 110-years of Italian automaker Lancia.
Five Ford GT40 race cars from the 1960s were arrayed in front of a wall representing the old pit garages at Le Mans in a tribute to the 50th anniversary of that marque’s victory in France.
Another creative idea was a circle representing the evolution of the fastback, from a 1934 Cadillac Victoria through a 1970 Fiat Dino.
Weather forecasts calling for mid-afternoon thunderstorms didn’t bear fruit, but may have suppressed attendance a little — seasoned show-goers took it all in early and many were moving on before the awards presentations started at 1 p.m. or the air got steamy in late afternoon.
The quality and variety of cars were up to the show’s usual high standard, and if some of the “circles” were as small as four cars, they all offered interesting and educational perspective on the history and development of cars, design, engineering and culture.
Photos by Kevin A. Wilson