PCA Southeast Michigan Region

From the Blog

P4-2018-09 – Concours D’ Elegance

By John Khami, PCA Member

The Competition or Concours of Elegance began in Paris in the mid 17th century. Carriage owners gathered in an open area of the city, paraded their horses that pulled the body and wheels onto the field for the Parisians to see. The carriages and horses were judged for their beauty.

On Sunday, July 29 2018 under a generous blue sky with small, puffy clouds, the third largest Concours D’ Elegance in America welcomed close to 300 different makes, models and styles of cars and thousands of people to St. John’s on Five Mile Road in Plymouth, Michigan.  This was the sixth year at St. John’s where the Concours was relocated from Meadowbrook in Rochester Hills and the 40th Anniversary of the Concours D’ Elegance in Michigan

Trained Judges who review and inspect the interior, exterior, fit, finish, plating, bright work, wheel cleanliness paint and polish view the vehicles.    The car needs to be as close to “mint” condition as possible – meaning — when it was leaving the factory after assembly.

The visual condition of the vehicle must be as original, bright and flawless, to be judged against other cars of the same year and make.  The vehicle is wiped, dusted, polished, rubbed on a constant basis until the owners and crews are told to stop when judging begins.

Another milestone at St. John’s this year was the 70th anniversary display of Porsche Road Cars.    Porsche Club of America and Michigan member, David Renner, was tasked by a selection committee with choosing 16 Porsches for the 70th anniversary of the nameplate.

But Porsche was one in a famous line of late model “supercars” that included:  “Ferraris, Aston Martin, Jaguar, McLaren, Lamborghini, Lotus, Bugatti, Vector and the Ford GT,” Renner said.     “We did this to entice the younger demographic to be interested in the Concours.”

“We chose the 16 cars from nine platforms.   We used the 356 and 911.  Then we added the 914, the 924-944’s, the 928, Cayenne, Boxter, Cayman, Macaan and Panamera,”

“In addition we had 15 factory made WERKS race cars.   The 550, the 718, the America Roadster, the 917 Martini, the 904, 910 and 911.   There was the 1968 Porsche Transporter made by Mercedes that was used by the factory to shuttle Porsches to different locations.”

Porsche race drivers Brian Redmond, Vic Elford and Hurley Haywood, were on hand for autographs and stories.

              Vic Elford said that his favorite race was driving a Porsche 907 at the Targa Florio in 1968.  Located in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo, Elford won the race after an 18-minute delay on the first lap because of the single lug nut that was slipping off the rear wheel splines.  Vic stopped in the village of Cerda.  Spectators lifted his 907 off the ground giving him the opportunity to tighten the lug and off he went to win the race three minutes ahead of the car in second place.      Vic Elford was 31 that year.

Brian Redman drove a Porsche 917, a car with a chassis that flexed too much causing instability on the track.   The airflow of the 917 held the front wheels to the ground but the body shape created negative pressure raising the rear end at high speeds.  Before racing, Porsche mechanics used wood, aluminum sheets and believe it or not, duct tape, to fashion a wedge-tail to stabilize the rear. Brian placed first at Francorhamps, a city in Liege Province, Belgium in 1970.  Brian Redman was 33 years old that year.

 Hurley Haywood won the Rolex 24 at Daytona five times and was the winner of the 24 hours at Le Mans on three separate races. In the 1974 race, Hurley drove a 935 turbo charged 2.1-litre engine.  Hurley called the 935 a, “fire breathing beast” with 800 horsepower, wide rear fenders, wide tires to fit and a coffee tray in the rear.  Haywood said that when he punched the accelerator his head was slammed into the headrest from the quick acceleration.  Hurley learned to control this power, and stay balanced on the course.

Porsche Race Drivers, Vic Elford on the left and Brian Redman on the right take a moment to answer a question or two at the Concours d’Elegance at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth Michigan, Sunday, July 29, 2018. (Photos by Jason Khami)

One of the cars at the 2018 Concours from a private collection was a “survivor.” An original, used, unrestored, 1901 Curved Dash Olds. Displayed by Thatcher Keast of the Sotheby’s Auction house In Blenheim, Canada, it has the factory  wood body on a metal frame.

Keast said that the car was the 46th registered automobile in the State of Indiana.  The seat cushions and seat backs were made of leather and stuffed with horse hair. A one cylinder, chain driven engine powered the car with a dry-cell battery on the left side under the bench seat.  A tiller was used for steering.     This original curved dash, two-seater, built by auto pioneer Ransom E. Olds  (he also built a flatbed truck, REO Speed Wagon) of Lansing, Michigan will be auctioned in Hershey PA in the second week of October 2018.  This American original car is expected to fetch between $50,000 to $ 75,000.


The original, Curved Dash Olds with an all- The original, Curved Dash Olds with an all-The original car with wood body, metal frame, balloon tires and a tiller used for steering.

The original leather seatback stuffed with horse hair used for the cushion

Interior of the Curved Dash Olds (Photos by Jason Khami July 29, 2018)

A 1928 Super Six Hudson.    Hudson Motor Cars were made in Detroit from 1909 to 1954  by Joseph Hudson, a Detroit department store owner who provided the funds.  In 1929 Hudson was the third largest auto maker behind Ford and Chevy.  Hudson produced 300,000 cars that year from factories in Belgium, England and Detroit.  (Photos by Jason Khami July 29, 2018)

The 1909 this Sears Motor Buggy was offered for sale by mail order through the Sears Catalog.   The car was shipped in a crate to a destination where the buyer would “pickup” the crate in a truck.  After assembling many parts including the wheels and adding oil, the 14 horsepower engine powered the completed car to a top speed of 25 miles per hour. (Photos by Jason Khami July 29, 2018)