Greenwich Concours d’Elegance showcases classic cars

Whether you are a car collector or just a fan of classic vehicles, it was a dream weekend as the annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance returned to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park featuring striking vintage vehicles from all over the world as well as, below, giving people a chance to play chauffeur. – Ken Borsuk

Whether you are a car collector or just a fan of classic vehicles, it was a dream weekend as the annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance returned to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park featuring striking vintage vehicles from all over the world as well as, below, giving people a chance to play chauffeur. – Ken Borsuk

Now in its 19th year, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance is known for bringing in a diverse crowd of families, enthusiasts and aficionados to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park each and every year to check out some of the most notable and colorful vintage automobiles.

Founded by local car collectors Bruce and Genia Wennerstrom, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance has grown into an international attraction appealing to both avid collectors and casual attendees.

Last weekend, more than 275 Concours entrants filled the park with their rare automobiles, with some dating back as far as 1902. In an effort to prevent recurring entrants, owners are only allowed to submit their car to the Concours once every three years, ensuring that each year’s showcase is a fresh collection of vehicles. Entries are separated into more than a dozen categories ranging from antique and vintage cars to contemporary supercars.

More than 40 judges oversee the competition, ranking the vehicles based on their visual impact and divvying out prizes over both days of the event.

The Greenwich Concours d’Elegance is comprised of two separate exhibitions, with Saturday serving only domestic vehicles during the Concours Americana, while Sunday’s Concours International is dedicated to overseas autos. Among the foreign offerings was a 1955 Citroen Traction Avant 15/6H Sedan owned by Old Greenwich resident Blaise Anello. The classic French auto is the second car Mr. Anello has entered into the Greenwich Concours.

“This is where people ask you questions, and believe it or not, you learn more than you answer,” Mr. Anello said. “People have information that you need. I have a pocket full of business cards, notes and phone numbers that I have collected for possible sources for parts, because as the car gets older, the parts get harder and harder to find.”

Maintaining these vintage vehicles can be a pricey and time-consuming process, but specialized shops like Automotive Restorations Inc. of Stratford work to help collectors keep their autos in top shape and to connect potential buyers with their dream car. At their exhibitor booth the business displayed a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTC restored at the shop. With its redone interiors, body and paint job, the asking price for the vehicle sat just under $900,000.

“It’s a pretty eclectic group of people. Naturally, not everyone is a buyer, some are just here to enjoy the cars,” Automotive Restorations salesman Michael Silverstein said of finding prospective buyers at the Concours. “A couple of people are very serious about this car, then you wait and see if they follow through. It’s a lot of people dreaming, but that’s what this is all about.”

A major part of Sunday’s events was British auction house Bonham’s seventh annual Greenwich auction, which featured a variety of rare international cars, including a 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopica” that sold for $1,210,000 and a 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Sports Saloon that fetched $313,500. Also featured in the auction was a one-of-a-kind prototype 1966 Fitch Phoenix, designed by famed driver and WWII pilot John Fitch. The car, which never made it to manufacturing due to safety regulations, sold for $253,000.

New York City resident Steven Schoenfeld attended the auction purely as a spectator interested in the price trends of the classic car market. Mr. Schoenfeld owns a 1969 Jaguar E-Type, but has never shown his car at an event like the Concours. Still, he works to keep in contact with vendors, and expand his knowledge of vintage automobiles as a hobby.

“I think it’s fantastic for anyone who lives within 50 miles. This is an accessible way in one afternoon, at a reasonable cost, to absorb hundreds of years of knowledge,” Mr. Schoenfeld said. “I seem knowledgeable, and I know the small differences between model years, but it’s good to see people who are way more obsessed because the passion they show rubs off, and it inspires me.”

Also on display at the Concours d’Elegance was a Hennesy Venom GT — currently the world’s fastest car at 270.49mph. Corporate exhibitors including Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Maserati were on hand with their latest luxury models, allowing visitors to examine the cars first-hand.

Cars weren’t the weekend’s sole attraction; a spontaneous performance of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes by troupe of more than 40 singers and dancers entertained the Sunday afternoon crowd, and a luxury yacht showcase was held in nearby Greenwich Harbor.

Beyond the competition, Concours exhibited and attendees expressed their enjoyment of the event for the sense of community it creates around what can be considered a niche hobby. As the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance looks towards its 20th anniversary next year, the size and prestige of the event will only continue to grow.

Among the honors handed out during the weekend was the 2014 Concours Americana Best In Show to the 1935 Duesenberg SJ562 Dual-Cowl Phaeton owned by Joseph and Margie Cassini III, the People’s Choice Award to the 1931 Cadillac 452A All-Weather Phaeton owned Charles Gillet, and the Grand Marshal’s Award to the 1953 Packard Balboa Two-Door Hardtop from The Marano Collection. Additionally the Chairman’s Choice award went to a 1958 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham owned by Skip Barber and the Chief Judge’s Award went to a 1956 Continental Mark II Two-Door Hardtop from Naif Makol.

There were also international awards as the International Best in Show went to the 1930 Minerva AL Cabriolet owned by the Cassinis and the People’s Choice went to the 2002 Ducati MH 900 owned by Masis Yeterian Jr. The international Grand Marshal’s Award went to the 1958 Pegaso Z 103 owned by Richard Kocka. Chairman’s Choice was received by William King for his 1939 Delage D6 and the Chief Judge’s Award went to Blake Stevenson’s 1961 Maserati Sebring Prototype.

Hersam Acorn Radio was at the show for a live remote on Sunday featuring several guests talking about their passion for cars. The entire show may be heard anytime on your computer or smartphone at Hanradio.com.

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