Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Concours d'Elegance of America, Plymouth, Michigan, July 30, 2017: Part Eleven--Corvettes at the Concours

Corvettes are welcome everywhere, of course, and there was a nice presence at the Concours d'Elegance of America so this will conclude our visit at the 2017 event.  Being so close to Detroit it was not surprising that the GM people opened up their Heritage Center and brought their collection of all-white Corvettes, representing each of the seven generations.

2018 Carbon 65 Special Edition C7, marking sixty five years of Corvettes

C5 Z06 Fixed Head Coupe

2005 C6 Base Coupe

Corvettes C2 through C5

Where it all began: the 1953 Corvette, which only came in one exterior and interior colour

1958 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
The stylists at Corvette went a little crazy in 1958, with the introduction of dual headlights and a great deal more chrome, including the spears in the side coves, dual strips along the hood and trunk surface and big chrome vents in the front of the car.  This festooning with chrome would be dialled back in the coming years but the 1958 car is certainly a 1950s styling statement. The interior was updated and seatbelts became standard for the first time.  No mechanical changes were made over the 1957 car.  The 1958 model was the best-selling Corvette to date, with more than 9,100 finding buyers.

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
1957 saw a number of upgrades to the Corvette, including a new, more powerful 283 cu.in. V8 engine and optional fuel injection and four-speed manual transmission.  Producing 283hp with its mechanical fuel injection, it became the first mass-produced car to make one horsepower per cubic inch of displacement.  This particular example is owned by Ed Welburn, former Vice President of Global Design at General Motors, who purchased it from Hall of Fame baseball star Reggie Jackson, a noted Corvette collector.

My and my dream car: the 700hp Superformance Grand Sport Corvette

The oldest known 1953 Corvette, sort of, as restored by Kevin Mackay
This extraordinary thing is hard to describe.  When Corvette began to see production in 1953, the first two cars off the line were tested to destruction.  No. 003 survived and was subjected to some bashing around on the Belgian blocks at the Milford Proving Ground of GM to see if fiberglass could take the shaking around.  Apparently it could but there were some issues with the chassis.  The body and the chassis were separated and subsequently the body was given a 1955 chassis and sold publicly.  The 003 chassis was fixed and given a 1955 body and sold.  In 1980 the owner of this car, undertaking a restoration, noticed something not right with the chassis and it was determined to have come from the third production car.  Attempts were made to get the 003 body and chassis together again but although it is known where the body is presently, efforts were in vain. The 003 chassis was then sold to a noted Corvette collector who did not want to have another Polo White 1953 car, especially one missing its original engine and body, and commissioned Corvette restorer Kevin MacKay to build a cutaway.  MacKay used a halved 1954 body and an original-type Blue Flame six cylinder engine and drivetrain, along with a driver's seat and a floating headlamp and taillight, so the Corvette is actually driveable.  

The cutaway car with the oldest Corvette chassis was first seen at the Amelia Island concours in March 2017, only a few months before we had the opportunity to see it in Michigan.  It has now been donated to the National Corvette Museum, where it has taken pride of place.

And this concludes my many posts about the 2017 Concours d'Elegance of America!

Concours d'Elegance of America, Plymouth, Michigan, July 30, 2017: Part Ten--American Classics/Cavalcade of Prizewinners

For us, the coachbuilt cars of the Golden Age are the big attraction for any concours event but there are plenty of other interesting cars to look at as well.  The Concours d'Elegance of America offered beautifully-maintained mainstream American cars, recent European collectibles, as well as crazy hyper-performance cars you can buy today if you have the money.  But one of the most enjoyable things is to watch the cars actually being driven as the owners go past the reviewing stand to claim their prizes.

1926 Wills St. Claire T6 Roadster
 Childe Harold Wills was a metallurgist employed early on by Henry Ford.  He was instrumental in conceiving a number of features of the Ford Model T, as well as being responsible for the design of the Ford logo.  He set up on his own in 1921 after a falling-out with Henry Ford, leaving with enough money to start his factory in Marysville, Michigan.  A perfectionist, C.H. Wills (he hated his first name) offered cars that were superbly built and had advanced features including aluminum bodies, overhead cam engines and hydraulic brakes.  Unfortunately, they were also very expensive and the production ended in 1927 after some 12,000 cars were built.  Only 80 are known to exist today and we saw this car, the only Wills St. Claire we have ever seen, at the Eye on Design show in 2016.

1932 Reo Royale 8-35 Rumble Seat Roadster
After leaving his Oldsmobile company in 1905, Ransom Eli Olds set up a new firm, REO, which manufactured cars and trucks from 1905 to 1975.  The handsome Royale was introduced in 1931, with trendsetting design by Amos Northup for the Murray Custom Coach firm, and foreshadowing the streamline era to come.  It is believed that the Royale was the first automobile to undergoing windtunnel testing.  Only 32 Royales were built in 1931 and this is the only Rumble Seat Roadster known, the end result of a 14 year restoration.

1929 Whippet  Rumble Seat Roadster
A fine example of a Jazz Age economy car, the Whippet was a brand of the Willys-Overland Company and more than 500,000 Whippets were produced between 1926 and 1931.  The Whippet propelled Willys-Overland to third place in US auto production in 1928, after Ford and Chevrolet, but few of the cars have survived.  The car was redesigned in for the 1929 model year by Amos Northup and had a longer wheelbase and more graceful lines than most inexpensive cars of the period.

1934 Chrysler Airflow Imperial CV Coupe
One of only two Imperial CV Coupes known, this car was purchased as a pile of pieces in 2014 and underwent an impressive three year restoration.  The Airflow, produced from 1934 to 1937, introduced many innovative ideas but was rejected by the public as too revolutionary and was a major setback for Chrysler.  Many of the ideas the Airflow pioneered, such as unibody construction, are taken for granted today.

1933 Pierce-Arrow  833 Club Sedan
This car was built for exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair as an example of what Pierce-Arrow could do: it featured mechanical brakes, an automatic choke, and automatic starting and was built to the highest standards.  Unlike Packard or Lincoln, Pierce-Arrow never developed a line of less expensive cars to draw customers unable to afford the senior line.

1936 Pierce-Arrow 1601 Sedan
 Available in six different body styles, the 1601 rode on a standard 139 inch wheelbase, or a longer 144 inch one, and buyers could select either an eight-cylinder engine or a twelve.  This car has the shorter wheelbase, the eight-cylinder, and a three-speed transmission with overdrive.

1941 Cadillac 41-6219D Limousine
This handsome car, the epitome of luxury in 1941, was handbuilt for the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, at a cost of $14,000, and is thought to be one of the first cars equipped with power windows.  The Duke and Duchess of Windsor enjoyed it for fourteen years.  It is presently part of the impressive Cadillac collection of Steve Plunkett in London, Ontario.

1941 Graham Hollywood Sedan
 The desperation car:  after the Auburn company went out of business, the tooling for the Cord 810/812 was purchased by Huppmobile, which was at the end of its financial rope, and plans were to built a simplified car with rear wheel drive (and no retractable headlights) to save the company.  But Huppmobile was unable to get it into production and called upon Graham to share the project.  The resulting Huppmobile Skylark and Graham Hollywood were too little, too late--fewer were built than even the Cord 810/812.  This is the only Hollywood known to have this iridescent two-tone green paint scheme.

1932 Chrysler CP-8
Considered to be an excellent driving car, the CP-8 Touring Sedan had very advanced features for the day, including hydraulic brakes, mechanical fuel pumps and adjustable shock absorbers.

1929 Buick 29-50 Seven Passenger Sedan (right)

1932 Chrysler CP-8 Touring Sedan (right), next to a 1937 DeSoto  S3 Airstream

Class P2: Sports Cars Post 1960

1961 Lotus Elite SE

1971 Mercedes-Benz 600

1947 Bentley Mk VI Coupe
Of the 999 Mk VI chassis delivered to custom coachbuilders, this is the only one that came to the famous Paris firm of Figoni & Falaschi.  80% of Mk VIs built used the factory steel body, which resembled the heavy pre-War Park Ward sedan.

1959 DKW Monza Coupe
The Lane Museum in Nashville is noted for its collection of weird cars and this DKW was a good example to show at the Concours.  Equipped with a fiberglass body and a 55 hp three cylinder two-stroke engine, three different firms constructed the Monza and somewhere between 70 and 240 were built from 1956 to 1959.  Weighing only 1,720 pounds, the car was a sprightly performer.  A Monza Coupe set five class world speed records at the Monza track in 1956.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz  Body No. 1 Convertible--first in the series

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Body No. 1800 Convertible--the last in the series

1962 Studebaker Lark Daytona Convertible
Freshened up in 1961 by designer Brook Stephens, the Lark was chosen as the Official Pace Car of the 1962 Indianapolis 500 race.  The example here was not the actual Pace Car but one of the official Festival Cars used to transport dignitaries during the week.  After this assignment, the car was stripped of its Indy markings and sold by a Studebaker dealership, finally being discovered in a Kentucky junkyard in 1978.  It was restored by the current owner's father but sold in 1996.  The current owner bought it back in 2006.

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa
One of only two coupes made by Vignale, with the remaining 21 cars constructed by Pininfarinia, the 250 Europa was meant as a grand touring car.

1950 Healey Silverstone

2014 Falcon F7
 Based in Michigan, Falcon Motorsports makes the Falcon F7, a mid-engined supercar introduced in 2012 and using a V8 derived from the Corvette LS7, producing between 620 and 680 hp.  The latest version of the Falcon, which has a carbon fibre/Kevlar body, offers a Lingenfelter twin turbo V8 putting out 1,100 hp.

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

And here are photos of those cars showing that they could actually move under their own power as they headed up to the reviewing stand for the prizes:

Continue to Part Eleven here