Motor City shows how to do a concours

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A real 1967 Ford GT 40 from the Le Mans racing program that won the race four times in a row was displayed by Janus Associates LLC. The car resided in a garage in LA for 48 years | Jim McCraw photos

As we keep saying, if you build a fabulous car show somewhere close to Detroit, the people will come.  And this year, they came in record numbers on a fabulous Michigan summer Sunday.

The Concours d’Elegance of America at The Inn At St. John’s in suburban Plymouth was in its 41st edition, an event that started as the Meadow Brook Concours at the Dodge mansion and moved south and west several years ago.

The show has expanded into a four-day festival of car worship, with a road tour, an art show, a book sale, a Friday night dinner event, a thousand cars at Cars&Coffee on Saturday morning, the British Invasion car show Saturday night, the wacky Concours d’Lemons across the way, a GM seminar on the new C8 Corvette, racer storytelling, a Saturday night dinner, and notably, all of this without an auction. 

This was the class of the field in the AA/Gas Supercharged drag racing class, the Kroona & Sandberg Anglia with a supercharged 392 Hemi on board. Gorgeous details abound

The features this year were Bentley’s centennial, with eight sterling examples on hand; Ferrari, with another two dozen; Rolls-Royces galore; 14 AA/Gas Supercharged drag cars; a boatload of Cadillac fin cars; a throbbing herd of muscle cars; and celebrities including racing great David Hobbs, grand marshal Wayne Carini of MotorTrend TV, and Barry Meguiar, the car wax and Car Nut TV guy.  Plus muscle cars, motorcycles, supercars, beautifully dressed models, and woodies. Ford Motor Company came with GTs, which was all they needed. Disneyland for car freaks young and old. 

Collector Of The Year honors were accorded to John Groendyke of Oklahoma who brought six of his Cadillacs, each of which had a V16 engine in it.  

Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, was honored as Enthusiast Of The Year and brought four of his cars.

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The field of show cars was deliberately slimmed down again this year to accommodate the growing crowd, but the quality, rarity and beauty of the cars on the show field was world-class.

Best In Show winners were, American: shark-nose Graham 97 convertible by Saoutchik and Foreign: Ferrari 375 MM

In one of the classiest moves we have ever seen, the concours committee elected to honor one of the show’s founders, the late Don Sommer, who died only recently, by placing Sommer’s red ’53 Buick convertible at the head of the viewing lawn so Don’s spirit could watch the entire show from car heaven.

There were plenty of the classics on hand, Cadillac, Lincoln, Packard, the A-C-D triplets, and the field was peppered with the spicy stuff, alternative fuel cars from steam to coal to electric to turbine, the stainless steel 1960 Ford Thunderbird, and a Zundapp Janus. 

In addition to class trophies, there were 25 special awards for design originality, paint, color and other categories to spice up the proceedings.  

Don’t see how this show could get much better.  It was wonderful, start to finish.

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Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, design, technology, car people and racing for 50 years, in such publications as Hot Rod Deluxe, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Penthouse, Winding Road, The Mercedes-Benz Star, AutoWeek, The New York Times, and a number of European publications. He was executive editor of Motor Trend, editor of Hot Rod and Super Stock. He co-holds the record for the drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, 96:22, and has run in major events such as the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, Goodwood, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000, Forza Mille, and four One Lap Of America competitions He owns a pristine Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan.

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