2013 St. Johns Concours d'Elegancee-feature-herhighway
09
Aug 2013

2013 St. John’s Concours d’Elegance Inspiring Innovation, Exceptional Elegance>

The 2013 St. John’s Concours d’Elegance of America was Inspiring Innovation, Exceptional Elegance; There are car shows and then there are concours. Defined as a gathering of prestigious automobiles, concours are rarified events, where the history of the automobile comes to life, where multimillion dollar vehicles glide across the show field and the judges wear natty haberdashery. Such was the case at the 2013 Concours d’Elegance, recently held at St. Johns’ in Plymouth, Michigan.
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This year’s classes at St. John’s included the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Corvette, a class commemorating the 1908 Great Race from New York to Paris, Mercedes-Benz Pagoda and 600s, Jet-Age Convertibles, Vintage NASCAR, Detroit and Indianapolis Iron, Electric Vehicles of the Past, Present and Future and the 50th Anniversary of the Porsche 911. Porsche even brought the 911 50th Anniversary Edition 991 to St. Johns, weeks before it was to make its official debut at the Frankfurt International Auto Show.
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Two iconic sports cars- Porsche and Corvette shared the field at this year’s Concours d’Elegance of the Americas. Among the vehicles on display was an ultra rare Porsche 901 prototype, the oldest and only remaining 911 prototype still known to be in existence. Another head turner was a wonderfully restored Brumos 1977 Porsche 934.5 Coupe. Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a little Porsche crazy, but with so many incredible cars to look at, you need to focus in on a couple of classes; your feet will give out long before your eyes do!
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Not only were there split-window 1963 Corvette coupes, and Z06 racecars on display, the 1961 Mako Shark Corvette Concept Car designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of General Motors Styling and Design head Bill Mitchell made an appearance. This is one car I’d seen before, at the GM Heritage Center. Its one thing to see a car parked in a museum, it’s quite another to watch it roar to life and drive across the stage at a concours. The Mako Shark, named for its unusual paint job, served as inspiration for the 1963 Corvette Stingray.
Concours also serve as a living classroom of automotive technology. The Electric Vehicle class had examples of everything from a 1889 Edison Electric Runabout, designed by Thomas Edison, a battery powered 1966 GM Electrovair II based on the Chevy Corvair to the new Cadillac ELR and the Tesla Model S. That’s right, electric cars are nothing new, they’ve been made for over 125 years!
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Another interesting vehicle was the 1953 Lancia PF200-C by Pininfarina. The deep red Pininfarina bodywork was eye-catching, but the grille louvers captured my imagination. Designed to help control engine temperature, the adjustable louvers open as the coolant temperature in the radiator increases. Fuel efficient models today use grille louvers to improve aerodynamics, not cool the engine, but same basic concept, slightly different application. The biggest difference is the use of computers to control many of the features cranks, levers, buttons and switches did 50, 60, 70, or even 100 years ago.
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The Vintage NASCARS class included a couple of ground shaking monsters from the good old days before the Car of Tomorrow. The huge oversized wing on the 1970 Plymouth Super Bird wasn’t there for looks, it was there for aerodynamics. And maybe a wee bit of intimidation. The best in class 1963 Chevrolet Impala was once driven by NASCAR legend Junior Johnson.
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In addition to the historic NASCAR racers, there was a class devoted to racing through the ages. Among the standouts – a 1916 Packard Racer featured a V12 engine that generated 85hp at 3000 rpm, the 1967 Ferrari 206 Dino Coupe by Drogo, which was named “The Most Significant Ferrari” and received the Gerald Roush Memorial Award, the 1966 Porsche 906 LeMans Race Car which was awarded Best in Class and a wonderfully presented 1963 Porsche 904 Coupe.
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The 1950’s welcomed the Jet Age to automotive design. Big fins, big V8 engines, nothing said post war prosperity like a sleek American convertible. A crisp, clean 1956 Chrysler New Yorker Convertible and a larger than life 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible turned heads; the class winning 1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible is considered the finest example of its type. When was the last time you heard people remark “Nice Edsel” over and over again?
Back in the 1960 and early 1970’s dealers often ordered or created special muscle cars for their customers. Among the most famous was the Yenko Chevrolet. This year’s Concours featured a killer 1969 Chevrolet Camaro YENKO S/C 427 and a 1969 Pontiac GTO Royal Bobcat GTO. That’s one goat I’d like to own!
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In addition to all the vintage and classic cars, brake manufacturer Brembo sponsored a Supercar display which included a Detroit built Falcon F-7, a 2012 McLaren MC4-12C, a 2013 Lamborghinis Aventador, a 2013 Lamborghinis Gallardo, a 2014 Jaguar XF, the new Corvette Stingray, a Ferrari 458 Italia, a Ferrari California, an F12 and the unusual Ferrari FF plus a 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish. I kept waiting for James Bond to appear, or at least Daniel Craig.
Not to be outdone, supercars of a bygone era were also featured, including a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A Sindelfingen which was named “The Most Significant Mercedes-Benz” at the event.
Because of the wide range of automobiles on display, two best in show trophies were presented. A 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster Derham was awarded the Founders Trophy Best in Show – American, a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Founders Trophy Best in Show – Foreign. Please don’t ask me what they cost, let’s just say it’s safe to say they not for the faint of wallet.
And the cars were not the only celebrities. Spotted in the crowd were automotive notables including former head of GM Design Wayne Cherry, actor Ed Herman, who served as one of the Masters of Ceremony, one of the Keno twins of “Antique Roadshow” fame and Chief Honorary Judge Wayne Carini of TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars”.

Written by Eve Pickman, photos by Thom Briggs and Porsche 901 is Ingo Rautenberg by Ingo Rautenberg