What better time to visit London than early September when the weather can be anything. The Owners’ Day of the Concours of Elegance (yes, Concours OF Elegance – it is England, after all) was held on a blisteringly hot day. Blazing sunshine. Temperatures near 90-degrees. The owners and their ladies or gents were hard put to keep a dry upper lip. This was a three day event and the weather was different on each day. Following the hot, hot, hot Thursday, it rained on Friday. Not downpours exactly, but enough to keep the car polishers busy keeping the 60 or so vehicles as pristine as possible. Saturday was the public day and the weather dried and was overcast. The cooler weather made the public day better without the blazing heat of the Owners’ Day.
Luckily or unluckily, AutoPacific attended the Owners’ Day reserved for Owners, guests, Owners’ Day Ticket Holders and Media. Luckily, because we could attend. Unluckily, because it was so, soooooo HOT.
Having just been to the Pebble Beach Coucours de Elegance in August, the contrast was striking. Pebble is so over the top that it overwhelms the senses. The St. James Coucours of Elegance is much less flamboyant, much less overwhelming, but still provides an opportunity to view outstanding vehicles and have a chat with their owners.
It was a day of Royalty. The owners were first feted at Buckingham Palace and then drove their cars down The Mall to Marlborough House located in St. James where the cars were displayed in the back garden. The royal patron was HRH Prince Michael of Kent. The vehicles on display varied widely from old Rolls-Royces to a modern Bentley GTZ Zagato custom coupe. Here are a few examples:
Hard to get an angle on this American 1934 Duesenberg Model J Willoughby Sedan Limousine
1930 Stutz SV16 Weyman Monte Carlo – a famed American marque
1939 Bugatti Type 57C Voll & Ruhrbeck Roadster
1925 Hispano-Suiza Boulogne
1928 Bugatti Type 35B – unrestored beauty
Bentley GTZ Zagato Custom Coupe – a late entry
Bentley GTZ Zagato – note the Roofline and Rear Styling
1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbech Sport Cabriolet, 1936 Mercedes 500K Streamline Roadster in background
Hollywood Design Cadillac’s Hollywood-designed deep blue Elmiraj coupe was dramatically unveiled at Clint Eastwood’s Tahama Golf Resort during the 2013 Pebble Beach automotive week. Cadillac and General Motors management is coy when asked if they will build the Cadillac Elmiraj concept coupe. To a person, journalists who were at the unveiling want to believe Cadillac can find the means to build this car. If Cadillac were given the green light to build Elmiraj, Cadillac management says they could have it in production in about two years.
I have to admit that I’m rooting for Lincoln. I used to work there and the Lincolns were “my” cars – Lincoln Continental Town Car, Lincoln Continental Town Coupe (yep, there was a Town Coupe in 1981), (eh hem, the Granada/Monarch-based Lincoln Versailles dubbed the “Mini Mark”), the Fox-based Lincoln Continental, and the Lincoln Continental Mark VI Coupe and Mark VI 4-door.
General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self. It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009. It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company. That transformation appears to be going very well.
Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development. Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product. Here are some examples…
I probably was the last person to ride with Patrick Paternie on a new vehicle evaluation. Patrick passed away on March 10 following a race in his classic Porsche.
Patrick Paternie: Volvo Chili Cook-Off, Scottsdale, March 8, 2010
I spent two days riding in Volvos with Patrick. He had sought me out to be his co-driver and I looked forward to his commentary and stories. I knew he was a good driver and would never take risks that so many of the hot-shots on these press previews sometimes take.
Patrick regaled me with stories of how he and his wife Linda towed a big trailer behind a Suburban in Arizona and there just wasn’t enough oomph in the big SUV to keep up with traffic with the trailer following behind. He talked about how Linda had come to like riding in his Ford pickup because of all the room in the cab. He was especially complimentary about a drive with the Aston Martin Rapide in Alaska. He said the Rapide was much more capable than he would ever have thought. The folks at Aston Martin admit the car has been “placed at a considerable discount”. He travelled widely for his passion. I was jealous.
We talked about heart surgery I had undergone last November. “How did you know you had a problem,” he asked. “Sprained ankle,” I replied. That got me to the doctor’s office and to get a physical my medical insurance provides every year. Surgery followed a few weeks later.
Patrick never alluded to having a heart problem. He looked fit and healthy. He raced. He finished. He was 65. We miss him.
It seems as though the further along we get into this project the faster things seem to go (thank goodness!). We’ve learned a lot about axles and we are beginning to learn a lot about leaf springs/suspension and driveshafts. For now, we will try and impart some of what we learned about solid axles with you…
It’s been nearly a week since the Italian Grand Prix run at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, in Monza, Italy – and already, I miss Phil Hill. As the first American to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship in 1961, Hill, who died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease August 28, 2008, in Monterey, California, was an important influence on the world of automobiles, racing, and International relations.
Even as recently as this year, Hill was a constant, loyal attendee at races all over the world and as such, was an influence on the culture of things automotive and served as an American ambassador of good will. When I think about the risk that drivers faced in F-1 and other forms of racing in the 1950s and ’60s, it’s amazing Hill even lived to tell the tale.
Another Perfect August Day
Tell me, where else will you see these two vehicles kept pristine and rollin’ along the same boulevard?
Or a toy motoring along next to the delivery van?
A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon at the Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. While the West Coast had Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, this weekend we had the 14th annual Woodward Dream Cruise, turning the area Woodward from Pleasant Ridge to Pontiac into an automotive playground. Below the jump, are just some of the vehicles that caught my eye.
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.