Metaphorically speaking, of course. This year, the lawn under the show cars was a duller shade of drab, no doubt attributed to a relentlessly burning hot sun and a clear lack of rain. It didn't matter though, as people's eyes were affixed to the machinery that treaded on the turf instead. And what machines they were.
The 20th anniversary of the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance took place on May 30 and 31 at the waterfront Roger Sherman Baldwin Park and featured Jim Glickenhaus as the Grand Marshall, a post that Wayne Carini held last year. Wayne, who hosts Chasing Classic Cars and owns F40 Motorsports, has had a long involvement with the Concours and was the Chief Judge for 2015. Although we made small talk over the lunch spread regarding the deliciousness of the potato salad, the appropriate moment to slip him a business card never presented itself. Wayne, if you're reading this...
I also caught a glimpse of Jamie Kitman on occasion, but did not muster the proper words to approach him with. The last thing I want to do is trip over my intro and end up as a subtle reference in "Noise, Vibration & Harshness." In fact, without sounding too creepy, I spotted him pulling in behind the wheel of a Pacific blue Volkswagen eGolf, which is the original thing that caught my attention, mind you. I would imagine he was reviewing it for one of the many publications he contributes to, since his preferred method of transportation is generally 40 years older and of the gasoline variety. Allegedly.
I would like to take this paragraph to extend a few well-deserved 'Thank You's.' First, Michael Lindgren for always offering an arm of assistance. Although I have yet to financially benefit from my two days of "work" I put in, you are constantly in my corner, promoting me to anyone willing to endure your youthful charm and overflowing charisma. I am forever appreciative of that. Additionally, hats off to Greg, the mayor of car shows, who seems to know everyone and anyone. I always appreciate the introductions to the many 'important' people in your figurative Rolodex, including Jim Glickenhaus this time 'round. In our brief chat, he seemed like a very down-to-Earth guy, despite the many achievements and the ridiculous car collection he has acquired. I hope he remembers me for next time, although I wouldn't mind a reintroduction.
Another gentleman who is deserving of a mention, and, being a self-proclaimed dinosaur who doesn't even own a cellphone, without a doubt will never see this, Dan Danielson. It was truly a pleasure meeting you and your lovely wife, as well as your pal Jack with Dr. Narcisse's Lincoln. You certainly have found your fountain of youth on the carshow field and I look forward to attending (or at least attempting to) your Monmouth County Concours in the fall. It was an added bonus that our paths crossed at the Ramapo Concours a week later.
Before we move forward, let's rewind.
2014 marked a big year of firsts for me. I could focus an entire #TBT post on highlighting the individual merits, but specifically it was the first time I attended the Greenwich Concours. I still recall chatting with a fellow by the name of Tom while at a Cars & Caffe meet at Maserati of Bergen County. We were standing in front of a meticulously recreated BMW 3.5 CSL, talking about the concours for the first time. This was maybe a month before the show and I decided to add it to my calendar. I made my way up for the Sunday portion, the Concours International, and I was hooked. I was there for nearly nine hours, walking around maniacally, pointing my camera at everything I could, while the sun took liberty with any and all of my exposed skin. It was glorious.
I doubled my exposure this year by attending both days, the Concours Americana on Saturday and the Concours International on Sunday. I won't explain the differences to you, but I will say the array of cars on Sunday couldn't exactly hold a candle to last year's assortment. That's not to minimize the impact that this year had, because there was certainly a quality field. It's just that simply put, there were far more cars in 2014 whose names I did not know. And it's not because I am one year wiser in the automotive field. Here's a quick example. Last year, I was wowed by the Minveras. I had never heard of the marque before and it inspired me to crack open one of the few Greatest American Cars hardcover books I had collecting dust on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. You know the ones, with the 'heavily reduced' stickers at Barnes & Noble, lost on the Bargain island. I didn't have that sort of experience this go around. It wasn't disappointing, it just left me wanting a bit more.
Ok let's get to the substance of the show! As much as I get enjoyment from detailing the nitty-gritty of my show attendance, I don't want to just deliver the facts in a methodical manner. I want to tell a story. To me, storytelling is my opportunity to recount my experience at some specific place in a way that is entertaining and enlightening, and heck, maybe even educational. Be advised that sometimes my fingers can't work the keyboard as fast as my brain creates the sentences and I sometimes find myself forgetting the words as soon as I mentally type them. I hate that. But if my retelling is enjoyable to the people that read it, then it is a success. Even the mundane things. I find it a challenge to make something out of nothing and I embrace it.
Every car that's present has a story to tell. And if you're unlike me, who spends most of the time trying to capture the substance of an event rather than the essence, the owners would be more than happy to share them with you. This is even more apparent at a concours event, where each entry is unique in their own right.
The way Greenwich does it is they have car corrals with anywhere from 10+ cars in any given circle. Naturally, they're parked facing out, but there is a yellow rope that keeps the commoners from putting their grimy mitts on the smudge-free paint. The rope can be dropped to allow for an unobstructed picture, but it can still be caught in the frame. A minor inconvenience that is remedied by either arriving early to catch the cars before the ropes go up, or hanging around until the cars drive down victory lane. If you're like me, you do both.
The judges for the show are all professionals in their own respect. I was fortunate enough to sit and eat lunch with one in particular, just listening as he reminisced about the days when he was the pit crew manager (or some equally prestigious position) for either Porsche or Ferrari at LeMans. This is the caliber of the people that are judging these cars, walking around like unknown gods among men! I wish I had a video recorder while he was in the moment, reliving it like it was yesterday, talking about prototype steering wheels. Because once he's gone to the racetrack in the sky, these memories will be lost forever. To me, that is a tragedy.
Another great aspect of the show is the diversity of the guests. To me, there are few things more entertaining than listening to a couple of older British folks chatting on about a car in front of them, dropping facts, statistics and anything else that is loaded into their chamber of thought. It's quite the experience. Additionally, the people that dress up in period-correct garb, especially in such warm weather, deserve to be recognized as well. Specifically, there was a group of flappers that came along with a few Ford Model A's that had an entire period-correct spread set up. They had a Victor Talking Machine playing tunes from the times, and would perform dances for all those that happened to walk by. Another impressive display was by a fellow named John who brought his 1917 Triumph Model H motorcycle. He was also decked out in 1917 attire, with his show mate Florence dressed as a period nurse with her 1914 Gritzner bicycle.
Given the two days of presentation, the judges took the liberty to award separate 'Best of Show' trophies, and both were well-deserving of that moniker. On Saturday, a stunning (although admittedly not at first to me) Graber-bodied 1935 Packard 1201 convertible took the top crown, wowing the judges with its seemingly never-ending list of custom touches. As I came to learn, you need to set aside some time to truly appreciate all the details. The nice way of saying runner-up, the People's Choice, went to an equally astounding automobile. It was a 1932 Auburn 8-100A Custom Deluxe Boattail Speedster, one of just 84 built. This was the real deal, not some gussied up 'standard' Auburn.
Sunday's top honors went to a 1951 Cisitalia 202C for the Best in Show and a 1954 MG TF for the People's Choice.
The post-show production to get the winners photographed on the banks of the Greenwich Harbor was quite comedic on both days. The cars were crammed onto a small patch of grass overlooking the water, with the positioning of the cars being less than ideal. The quickly fading sunlight was trying to be remedied by an inadequate reflector, a feeble attempt to fill shadows and make the chrome shine even more. It was even worse on Sunday, when the incoming storm prematurely sapped the daylight right under their noses. The auction tent's rear white picket fence was deconstructed to declutter the background, and once the photographer's shutter had been pressed what seemed like half a million times, the image was still not up to snuff. Then there was the step ladder...In the end, the desired result was achieved and the cars looked fantastic, no matter which way they were facing. That is a trait of a true winner.
In terms of weather, I've stated on many, many occasions that a cloudy sky is a photog's best friend. Both mornings were marked by sunshine, with rain presenting itself at the commencement of the awards ceremony on Sunday. It was truly incredible how fast people vacated the white chairs and crowded the adjacent tents to escape being saturated by the deluge. Thankfully, it lasted less than 10 minutes and the show was able to go on. Mother Nature was kind enough to hold off the shower's sequel until after the majority of attendees had left. All that rain and no rainbow though? I felt violated.
There is just so much more to mention about this weekend that I am afraid I would lose your attention if I attempted to do so. That is if I haven't already. I fear that I can be a tad loquacious at times. My suggestion would be to mark this down in your calendar for 2016 and see for yourself the wonder that is the Greenwich Concours. There is a boat show in the adjacent harbor and Bonhams held an auction on Sunday, with cars and memorabilia spanning the entire spectrum of the automotive realm. One that particularly caught my eye was a 1968 Mazda 110S Cosmo Sport Coupe. With a projected range of $150,000 - $200,000, it just goes to show that rare J-tins are starting to garner just as much interest and profit as their American muscle counterparts.
At the end of each day, I returned to my car and tried to mentally retrace my steps for the past 9+ hours that had elapsed. It was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack; a daunting task. How does the time go so quickly? I resolved that for next year, I'm going to do more. I want to immerse myself in the concours culture. I want to meet everyone. See everything. I want to take everyone's picture. Learn everyone's story. I want to be knowledgable on all levels. A real concours savant. I want to craft the perfect account of what happened for all of those who could not partake. I can and will achieve that goal. Now, to learn how to make time stand still.