On August 3, I finally returned to one of my favorite summer events, the annual Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. Held the first weekend of August every year since 1979, this Concours is one of the premier events of its type. Not quite as prestigious as the Pebble Beach Concours happening the weekend of August 16 (yes, the same weekend as Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise), Meadow Brook has earned a strong reputation. For me, it’s simply a chance to wander among cars from storied brands of today and yesterday. Delahaye, Packard, Auburn, Duesenburg, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Peugeot, Ferrari, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Rolls-Royce, the list goes on and on.
As you enter the Concours d’Elegance, the show starts.
Meadow Brook is home to a mansion of the same name built by the widow of John Dodge, one of the two Dodge brothers that helped establish the automotive industry we know today. The home and its property now belongs to Oakland University. Aside from the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating the automobile as an art from, the event’s purpose is to raise funds for upkeep of the 88,000-square-foot mansion and its grounds. Seems a fitting choice of fundraising event.
Closing time for Harrods
department store in London is at 8PM on a Friday night. Across from its Hans Road entrance is a mediocre but well-positioned Italian restaurant Zia Teresa
correspondents grabbed a table across from the Harrods’ door that was a great venue for the supercar version of Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise. Of course, none of these cars could drive more than about 20mph down the street that was a narrow single lane with cars parked on both sides.
A brief inventory included: 1 Bugatti Veyron
, 2 Lamborghini
Gallardo Spyders, 2 Lamborghini Gallardos, 2 Lamborghini Countachs, 2 Lamboghini Murcielagos, 1 Mercedes SLR McLaren, 2 Porsche Carrera GTs, 5 Aston Martin V8 Vantages
, numerous Bentley
Continental GTs, one Bentley Flying Spur in black with orange bodysides, a Morgan, many mundane Porsche 911s and Cayennes, more 2006/7 Mercedes S-Classes than could be counted. Oh yeah, there were a couple of vintage Daimler limousines carrying shoppers to and from Harrod’s.
Why this proliferation of super iron? Apparently, because of the difficulties in Lebanon, many vacationers from the Middle East opted for London this year. Where they congregated in the Edgeware Road area in previous years, this year their loci is Harrod’s. A high percentage of the supercars were left hand drive with Arabic number plates. Probably air-freighted from Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Dubai.
Parked at the curb (kerb), Veyron shared space with a bicycles and chauffer-driven Range Rover in the background.
SLR illegally parked at end of Hans Road attracted dozens of admirers most taking mobile phone photos. SLR in the flesh and in traffic was underwhelming.
Getting even more attention than the SLR was this red Carrera GT with Arabic plates (SLR and Veyron also had Arabic plates). Note the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder cruising by in background.
Down the street, around the curve, there were more Lamborghinis parked in a two block area than would be seen in Turin at any one time.
For those of you who do not live in the Los Angeles Times sphere of influence, you may miss the writing of Dan Neil their Pulitizer Prize winning auto journalist. You can catch up on his reviews, Highway 1 editorials and podcasts at the LA Times website (http://www.latimes.com). This article on the upcoming launch of the Bugatti Veyron supercar is just one example of Neil’s writing.
By Dan Neil, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2005
PALERMO, Sicily — At 200 mph, the Bugatti Veyron pounds a beautiful, howling hole in the sweltering haze hanging over the motorway.
This, the fastest production car in the world, is broad and low, an enameled ellipse in a spiffy two-tone paint scheme. By comparison, its now-vanquished supercar rivals, such as the Ferrari Enzo and McLaren F1, are all edges and blades and angles, like F-16 fighter planes or Japanese stunt kites.
The Veyron is not, strictly speaking, the fastest car I’ve ever driven, but the one that’s faster had a jet engine and a parachute. The guardrail to my right is blurred into a dirty stream of quicksilver. Houses fly by before my brain has time to register the word “house.”
About nine seconds ago, I was dawdling at 100 mph. Then I squeezed the throttle. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox clicked twice, the engine took a huge lung-busting toke of atmosphere through its twin roof snorkels — and then things got interesting. Something slammed me from behind and I realize it was the seat. Captain, it appears we have fallen nose-first into a wormhole.
Two-hundred mph. And I’m not even in top gear.