HomeCar CultureCommentary5 Worst Behaviors Seen at Concours and Car Shows

5 Worst Behaviors Seen at Concours and Car Shows


The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance demands good manners from both entrants and spectators | Larry Edsall
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance demands good manners from both entrants and spectators | Larry Edsall

Just in time for the granddaddy of all car shows, The Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance, and such Monterey Car Week events as Concorso Italiano and The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, here are 5 Simple Rules of what not-to-do at these public car exhibitions:

1. Do not touch the cars! Absolutely, positively, not at all!
Especially leveraging your upper body weight on aluminum panels and a spindly seat frame. It doesn’t matter if this guy was leaning over to read the car’s description placard. It’s the simplest rule yet the hardest to follow: Just. Don’t. Touch.
2. Stay out of restricted areas
Auto events usually rely upon the generosity of a host facility such as a golf course, country club or museum. Which means their regular activities and members are displaced so that we may enjoy ours. Act like you would in someone’s home, observe the signs and stay in the designated areas.
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3.No horseplay around near cars
Yayyyy! Let’s climb on Daddy’s back near this 100-point, $2 million Ferrari that took five years to restore. You know why they’re called “accidents”? It’s because you weren’t planning on having them happen. Fortunately, with common sense and spatial awareness, most of get through life without many incidents. But why would you risk it?
4. No “You Toucha This Car I Breaka You Face” signs
The sad but understandable reaction to violators of Rule #1 is the placement of “Don’t Touch” signs everywhere, which gives the impression of visiting a Kindergarten classroom. The signage absolutely ruins viewing and photography for the 97 percent of the attendees who do respect your car and would not dream of touching it.
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5. Don’t be a Jerk
So you pay all kinds of entry fees to have your car exhibited and fawned over by the masses at a public event, and when someone facilitates the adulation by photographing your car, you flip them the bird? We’re still trying to figure out what could have been so irritating to this guy that he lets the finger fly…the photographer is not underfoot and at least 40 feet away using a telephoto lens. Anyway, isn’t your worst day with an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 still better than most of our best days? Not how I would want to spend my 15 minutes of fame, but here you go dude. | Tom Schmock photo
William Hall
William Hall
William Hall is a writer, classic car broker and collector based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He has spent the whole of his professional career in the automotive industry, starting as an auto-parts delivery driver at the age of 16 to working for some of the nation's premier restoration shops. He is a concours judge and a consultant to LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.
  1. Don’t we need to all stop and think about the fact that you need to point out these areas of stupidity at car shows at all? In any sane population you wouldn’t need to say any of this. Think about it. Ever seen an “accident” at a collector car show? Was it caused by someone showing a car?I didn’t think so…

  2. Having rebuilt a few rods in my spare time i can understand “do not touch” but i quit the rod show stuff because of the attitude of the entrant’s toward other entrants. Not going to support it even as a paying observer. Trailer queen or not who cares!

  3. i find the attitudes of the car owners worse than the public in many cases and all shows whether it is a neighborhood show or something like this one. People have generally respected any car I show because they are daily drivers and they see them on the street. The best comments I have had have come from the people on the street walking up to me or the car and I have never found anyone touching it even in a parking lot. when freshly polished fingerprints stand out like a sore thumb. Cars were made to drive and enjoy and mouch of that enjoyment comes from other people pleased to see what you have done.

  4. I’ve been fascinated with older automobiles almost all my life. I went to my first car show when I was 10 years old. It was then my father taught me the reason why it was important not to touch or even get close to a car on display. My dad made sure I respected the car in every way… Even when the owner was present and would open the door or hood for us to peek inside, I was taught to place my hand over my belt buckle and stay far enough away from the car to insure no damage was done. I also remember many years later when I had driven my own classic car to a show and left the windows open so spectators could look inside… but I always had that little sign asking people to respect my car. I also recall watching a mother (who apparently had no idea how to treat a classic car) that had lifted her small child and set him on the top of the front fender so he could slide down to the running board… shoes and all! Talk about furious! The woman could not understand why I was mad at her…

  5. Years ago, I worked for a magazine evaluating vintage cars. I was taking a picture and kept backing up until my butt was leaning on the car next door. Another person just there as a spectator asked if I always sat on vintage car fenders. Sometime your just stupid and careless. talk about embarrassment.

  6. On behalf of the world’s most endangered species — those of us, who respect the property of others and believe in at least a modicum of good behavior, thank you so much for saying what had to be said. As one of your more elderly followers, I fondly recall earlier days, when such warnings were not required, when just the nod of a marshall’s head would immediately back lookers away from the attraction; be it classic autos or artwork. I loved going to golf tournaments, which were almost the pinnacle of proper behavior, until the neanderthal screaming of drunken fans ruined the beauty of a perfect approach chip or putt. Civilization insists that such articles be published from time to time, in order to save us from ourselves.
    Ron Prosperi

  7. Just last week at the local Cars & Coffee, having toured the lanes looking at other’s prized rides, a friend had the experience of returning to his Warsteiner-liveried E30 M3 racer to find someone sitting behind the wheel. The trespasser was talking with his buddies; my friend calmly asked if he could sit in HIS car. It took a moment for the guy to register the request.

    In the past few years I’ve displayed several different vehicles at events ranging from glorified shine ‘n shows to concours. Some crowds, such as at Rennsport Reunion, seem very aware they shouldn’t touch. But at local events, it’s not uncommon to be sitting right behind the car and have to ask someone to not open a door, lean into the interior or worse. Once a guy tried to open the alloy hood of my 3.0CSL (the pins were removed as it had been opened earlier for a photographer) by pulling up hard at one corner, slightly bending the thin metal. The ensuing confrontation wasn’t pleasant.

    On the other hand, letting a kid sit in your old race car and watching them beam as you both make engine noises while they saw at the wheel is priceless fun. Parents get a photo, kid gets a great memory. My guess is that Mr. #5 has never experienced that.

  8. I wasn’t going to tell this story again, but i must, one last time. Back in 2000, me and several of my buddies left Tacoma Washington and caravanned to Post falls idaho for a show at the newly opened “HOT ROD CAFE” just off Hwy 90. Arrived at our motel about 4PM and had enough time to wash our cars before heading to Post Falls. Arrived in Post Falls and the place was packed. We were stuck in Hot Rd traffic at a standstill. Temps were close to 100 degrees. Tempers were getting short by most all participants . We were held in this line because of a required drive through where spectators would judge the cars while in motion. There was a car show “Marshal” that was holding us up until the first batch of rods went through the people judging the cars. Man, it was getting so hot my friends and i started yelling at the Marshal to let us go through. Well, he ignored us for a bit and while he ignored us, some drunk SOB came over to my Beautiful 60 Pontiac Hardtop custom and told me how much he liked my car. His dad had one when he was a kid he said. During this declaration of his childhood, he sneezed and dropped a 3 foot long loogie on my driver side door. I could hear the snot sizzle as it slid down the door. Again i remind you that the metal on the car had to be at least 110 degrees. I tried to get out of the car to give this guy a sandwich or two, but now the “Marshal was screaming at me to get going through the judging spectators. My wife was screaming at me to
    “LET IT GO” we’ll clean it up when we get through here. Needless to say, the judges just looked at my car with a Sneer as if to
    say WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ON YOUR DOOR. I didn’t get any points either. Went across the Hwy to clean off the SNOT but it was too late, the paint was already etched. That totally ruined my trip. Sooo, to make things worse, the gals in our group went to a local target store and bought a “Tee Shirt” for me, and then went next door to a silk screening business and had a picture of a man with a big nose and a 2 foot long string of GREEN Snot hanging down, with the comment, I WAS SLIMED AT THE POST FALLS HOT ROD CAFE. I have never worn the shirt. It’s hanging in the closet. What an introduction to spectators who get too close to your special vehicle. It took me 9 years to build this Custom and in just one moment, an expensive paint job was damaged. Alas, most of you guys will laugh at this story (as i do now) but damage can happen as fast as a sneeze when somebody has hay fever and has had to much to drink. Now, that’s my story and i’m sticking to it. BEWARE !!!!!!!!!!!!
    David Haskell – Edgewood Washington.

  9. As #5 said he came back and the guy was in his car, not cool, he didn’t ask if he could sit in the man’s car, he took it upon himself to plant himself in a car that did not belong to him. That said, I myself have had a few bad experiences at Ontario car shows, at one show in particular I had my hood open, and I had a oriental father stand his young son wearing running shoes on the painted nose of my Camaro, what was said was not pleasant, to say the least I was very, very, angry, as I explained the reasons I was so mad, this person did not understand what he had done wrong. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed, you can’t fix stupid. As for letting people sit in the car to have there picture taken, I allowed that as a courtesy from time to time, the look on the faces of the people involved makes me smile. and they respect the value of the gesture. I don’t have a classic or antique car I have a 2010 CAMARO TRANSFORMER addition show car, I have invested a lot of time and money into my baby, and have won some trophy’s, so I take pride in my ride, and expect others to respect the value and work gone into it to make it look the way it dose today, most people do. That said It does get a lot of attention, and after all isn’t that why we do what we do. You just have to be keep an eye on people, That is why I take my wife, we take turns looking after things and answering questions about the car and walking around taking in the show, and yes I do have signs on my car, they read ( please do not touch unless you are nude) Almost every show, I get people laughing asking if they strip down can they sit in the car. lol , they like my sign.

  10. I travel to many of the bigger car shows across the country (USA), attend local car shows to support the worthy causes as well as a few Cruise Inns. I do see a lot of spectators (especially with small children) that have NO CLUE as to how to approach or view a show car. These parents let their children climb up on runner boards, hang on the window openings and drag their sticky little hands down the side of a great paint job, without ever reprimanding the child. Then if the owner politely asks the adult to tend to their child they get a big attitude. These people have some type of self entitlement mentality that I just can’t understand. And its because of these types of folks that are stopping car owners from taking their cars out for the day/evening…..Then there are the “know it all spectators”. These are the ones with one guy that always try’s to empress everyone standing around a car with his knowledge of said car, pointing out flaws, spouting out production numbers and in general being a nuisance to everyone…Case in point, I carried a very nice but unrestored and very rare muscle car to a major show a few years a go. This is a one of 10 produced car with 16k original miles on it. I was standing over at a neighboring car when the “know it all” came to look at my car. He started his spill about how this wasn’t right and that should be this way or the other. Now remember that this is a one of 10 produced car and only a few have been found, so the odds are that this guy has never seen one before, right. So I walk over as though I were just another spectator. As this guys is spouting off his knowledge I ask him if he was the owner. He replied no. I then ask him if he had ever seen another one of these cars in person. He replied again no. So I ask him then if he liked the car. He replied that he loved it. Now mind you that there was a crowd standing around this rare car listening to the two of us talking. I then told the fellow, that if he loved the car so much, and that since he had never seen one before to base his knowledge on, then why doesn’t he just enjoy the car for what it is, keep his damn mouth shut and let the other people enjoy it as well…..He was stunned, the crowd agreed out loud and he just slipped away. No one at that time ever knew I was the owner.

    The moral of this story is: We as car owners and spectators that know how to respect the cars we come to see need to educate the ignorant people on the rules of the game. Either these people will live and learn or stay the hell away. Its pretty simple stuff. Most people don’t like to be embarrassed in public. And I’m not saying that we have to be rude, just willing to teach people a bit of etiquette. Now get out their and be a teacher before its to late for some to learn. For these people may just pass their knowledge on to someone else.

  11. As a kid, I went to many auto shows with my dad & his friend. I was told not to touch any of the cars since the oils in our skin can damage the paint surfaces. True or not, I have always remembered that and am puzzled when I see people routinely feeling up the show cars. “Chasing Classic Cars” is one of my favorite TV shows and I see supposedly knowledgeable folks with their hands all over the surfaces of the cars. A good example needs to be shown by these guys so that the viewing public learns how to act at a car show.

  12. how about you spend time effort and money. you have your car displayed at a show. a guy comes along and says theres another like yours but its way nicer, is a prettier color, better chrome. i finlly said, hey, now say something nice about my car.

    • Dave, you must know that there are some jealous people at car shows that say & do stupid things just to piss you off & make you miserable, you just try to ignore them, smile, and say, you have a good day now here. That way he thinks it doesn’t bother
      you about what he has said, and he will be pissed of instead of you.

  13. Last year I spent the (northern) summer touring USA with my buddy. We did 18,000 miles in our ninety days and, as we share a love for everything car related, we visited many car shows, car museums and dealers. I frequently found my friend actually leaning on other people’s cars at many of these places and I had to remind him every day not to touch them. His attitude was that he had no intention of damaging them so what he was doing was okay. I had to tell him, time after time, that it most certainly isn’t okay and exactly what “Do not touch” means. Owners of most of these cars my friend was happy to run his hands over (right up to actually lean on) had spent hours polishing them up to a very high standard and a single finger print can stand out. Cars really need to be roped off to keep idiots that don’t understand etiquette away from them because no amount of “Do Not Touch” signs will stop my friend touching other people’s cars as long as he has no intention of ‘damaging’ them.

    The irony is that my friend understands the concept of etiquette – although he calls if decorum. Woe betide anyone who doesn’t behave with the right ‘decorum’ and crosses the line of any one of his little ‘pet hates’. Why he doesn’t understand the concept of keeping your hands (and your arse) off other people’s property is beyond me.

    I once left the driver’s door open of my Series I, 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow at a classic car show so people could get a better view of the interior without smudging my windows – the car had a standard isolating switch so I could leave the door open all day without flattening the battery. During the day I found a man sitting in my car so I asked him where he got the idea that might be okay. Apparently an open door is an open invitation. I continued to leave my door open but with a rope through the door handles. If people wanted photos I was happy to remove the rope and shut the door – or open the bonnet or whatever but people just don’t like to ask. I’d have been okay for the guy to sit in the car if he’d asked. I’d have even taken a photo for him.

    Not long after I’d bought that car (having never owned a hobby car before in my life) I was leaning on it at a car show while I chatted with a friend I hadn’t seen for years. He took me to task over touching the car (and I’m pleased he did). I had to produce the key and unlock it before he’d believe it was mine – and I’m not sure he believed it even then. He wasn’t the first – or the last.

  14. Unfortunately, manners and out and out rude behavior have become the norm in our society now days, not just at car shows but throughout our whole society’s total makeup. The days of respect, courtesy,proper dress and behavior in public are but a distant memory of a nicer time. People need to remember that when someone has spent much time and money restoring or building a car that they think is worthy of being in a car show and is their pride and joy weather it be a semi classic daily driver, rat rod or a show quality investment quality restoration, to not have that “HURRAH FOR ME,TO HELL WITH YOU” attitude about someones property. All it takes is a simple “May I take a closer look at your car” usually gets a positive reply instead of a angry confrontation.

  15. I’ve noticed that most people at shows are really gracious if you truly appreciate what is happening around you. Manners and a genuine compliment will make every ones experience better. I once was at a small local show and was taking pictures of an original 57 corvette, when I asked the owner if he would open the door so I could get some shots of the dash(I build models) he said sure no problem. Opened the door waved his hand and said “hop in, check it out”, I couldn’t believe it. The opportunity of a lifetime for me all I had to to do was be polite.

    • Hi Elbert. I agree with you about looking at ourselves and our own attitudes toward spectators at the car shows. Years ago i built a beautiful 53 ford Hdtp (California style with scallops and all the other custom things we used to do. My wife has a best friend from high school whose mother was dying of cancer. had 3 months to live. The mother said that one of her last wishes was to ride in a hot rod or custom from the 50s. Guess what ! The wife and i took the 53 over to her house and loaded her into the car and went driving all over Tacoma Washington and to “Point Defiance park” which is where she and her late husband used to go to park and make out. She was on cloud 9 the whole day. Folks would wave and honk there horns, and she got to wave at them Etc. We stopped at the Pickwick driven down in the city of Fife and got some snacks. She used to eat there years ago with her boyfriend and then go to the drive in theater next door. Most of us did that too.Anyway, she grew tired and wanted to go home to take a nap so we called it a day. She lived 30 miles away and by the time we got to her home, she was sound asleep. The 53 had a flathead motor with brockman millstone glass packs and she just loved the nice mellow sound as i went through the gears. Tearfully she thanked and kissed my cheek for giving back memories of her youth. She died one week later. That experience is something that i’ll never forget. Now i have a 1960 Pontiac Hdtp California custom that i share
      with other terminally ill people that really want to experience the hot rod / custom culture. They read about it and dream, just like the rest of us. Several years ago, the Puyallup Goodguys show had a place where any wounded vet could go and ride around in a special car. Boy oh boy ! That was terrific for these soldiers. Smiles all over the place.
      The point to my story is, that eventhough your car is beautiful and expensive, it really won’t hurt it to share your pride and joy
      for a few minutes to someone that admires your car so much that they want to sit in it, touch it Etc. I found that if you allow other people to share in your hobby, you really get a nice following from show to show.

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