Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance, Malvern, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2016

Arriving bright and early for the Concours, we started our day wandering around the new car exhibits where the latest Ferraris, McLarens, Alfa Romeos, BMWs, and even the latest incarnation of the Fisker Karma (now called the Karma Revero) were all to be admired.  The front-engined 730 hp Ferrari F12, which from the front looks strangely like a C7 Corvette, was very sharp but then again it was carrying a price tag of over US$350,000.  BMW showed its appreciation for the past by having on its stand a nice silver 2002, produced from 1969 to 1975 and boasting 101 hp.  McLaren was in evidence with its newest supercars and there as even a Karma, a revival of the failed Fisker hybrid project.

There was an impressive collection of pedal cars which, of course, are now too valuable for children to play with, although one intrepid boy thought he might.  A notion he was quickly disabused of.

Walking past the clubhouse, we came upon an enterprising couple who were part of the motorcycle section of the show and had dressed the part as they stood alongside their World War I-era motorcycle and bicycle.  He was kitted out as a British soldier and she as a German nurse.  They had an interesting display and were accompanied by their enthusiastic dog as well.  The Model A Club members have clothing competitions but seeing people dressed up in period clothing at concours events is great fun.

The first cars on display were winners from previous Radnor Hunt events and included a superb Duesenberg Phaeton and Cadillac V-16.

1929 Duesenberg Model J Phaeton

1931 Cadillac V-16 452A All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood

1938 Steyr 220 Kabriolet: one of six built, it is the only one remaining in private hands

Of course, there is nothing to match 1930s French cars in terms of show-stopping flamboyance and J.R. Marriott, of hotel fame, brought several cars from his collection including this stunning 1938 Talbot-Lago Darracq TS-150 Cabriolet by Paris-based coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi.  Apparently Signore Figoni liked the design of the Torpedo Roadster so much he appropriated it and subsequently had to pay royalties after a legal fight with Geo Ham, an illustrator who came up with it originally.  Originally built for an aristocratic Portuguese couple, this is the only Talbot-Lago to carry this style of bodywork.

The Concours offered up a pair of magnificent Isotta-Fraschinis, one of the most luxurious and exotic brands of the interwar period.  Above is a 1928 8A SS Boattail Convertible Coupe, with a body by LeBaron.  It was built for an actress, Marguerite Clark, who was second only to Mary Pickford in the silent screen era, and was equipped with a very powerful 160 hp engine, compared to the more usual 7.4 litre 8 cylinder that produced between 110 and 120 hp.  The car was capable of 100 mph and this particular example was Best in Show at the Radnor Hunt Concours in 2013, as well as winner of the Pinehurst Concours in 2016.  It has only been driven 22,000 miles since 1928.

This 1929 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8AS Limousine, with its body by Castagna of Milan, was one of my favourite cars at the show and we spent considerable time speaking with its owner, Mr. Bullock, about this car.  It was ordered by a Chicago financier who travelled with his family to Italy to pick it up, along with a second Isotta-Fraschini, and these were subsequently shipped back to the United States.  The financier had foreseen the collapse of the stock market in October 1929 and had earlier liquidated all of his holdings.  The Isottas were paid for in gold.  In addition to the beautiful green colour of the car, it features a marvellous arrangement, like a ship, that allows the passengers to communicate to the chauffeur without actually speaking to him, signalling to "slow down" or "speed up." The device is seen to the right of the steering wheel.  Superb.  Mr. Bullock, when asked what it was like to drive the car, compared it to a heavy truck and said it had taken some effort to get it into the parking spot.  He said that most cars of the era handled that way, although he also noted his Hispano-Suiza was actually a pleasure to drive.

1932 Packard 903 DeLuxe Sport Phaeton, winner of the 2010 Radnor Hunt Concours 

This 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider, with coachwork by Touring, is an example of one of the most sophisticated sports cars available, with its dual-overhead cam engine and supercharger,  With a weight of around 2200 lbs, the car moved briskly thanks to that 142 hp engine and was successful on both the road and track.  The owner of this car (which won the Radnor Hunt Concours Best of Show Sporting Marque award in 2015) bought it in 1991 and meticulously restored it by 2003.  In spite of its very considerable value as a collector's piece, the car is driven and has completed six 1000 mile tours of the Rocky Mountains with its owner.

Looking very similar to the post-war (1945-1949) MG TC Midget that saw export success as the British industry tried to regain its footing, this charming car is actually its predecessor, the 1939 MG TB Roadster, which is four inches narrower and even more primitive.  It was built in tiny numbers as only 379 rolled off the assembly line at Morris Garages before production shut down as World War II meant other industrial priorities.  Performance with its 54 hp engine was considered good for the day as the 1850 lb car took around 24 seconds to go from 0-60 mph but would be pretty marginal now.  When the judges asked the owner to show his turn signals, he waved his arms out of the car as there are no actual turn signals but one must resort to the old hand signals.  A lovely car that was imported to the United States in 1972, it was in decrepit condition when the present owner acquired it and restored it very considerable expense.  We discussed this and the numbers were indeed daunting but the end result is superb.  

Looking like a miniature Ferrari barchetta (and boasting lines similar to the early AC Ace, which stole from the Italians for its design, leading eventually to the Shelby Cobra), this 1952 Siata 300BC Spider was produced in Turin and features bodywork by Bertone.  Siata was one of the famed "Etcetarini" carmakers, producing its own chassis but using parts such as drivetrains from bigger companies, particularly FIAT. The company was founded in 1926 and remained in business until 1970. This car does not use a FIAT engine but an American Crossley OHV 4 cylinder inline one built for competition and producing 55 hp.  Around 40 cars were built with this body style, primarily for the American market.  Weighing 1900 lbs, the Siata was aimed primarily at the racing market and is very highly collectible today.  

1964 Ferrari 250GT  Berlinetta Lusso, designed by Pininfarini, one of 351 built between 1963 and 1964
A four cylinder 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC Spider by Scaglietti, winner of Best Sporting Marque at the Radnor Hunt Concours in 2012, and one of 19 built, it is the first Ferrari to be called Testa Rossa.
1958 Ferrari 250 LWB "Tour de France" Competizione Berlinetta by Scaglietti: one of 77 built, this car has participated in numerous historic racing events, including four editions of the historic Mille Miglia

1913 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost London & Edinburgh Tourer, with replica Barker body

1937 Packard Super Eight 7 Passenger Limousine

Here is the kind of car we love to see at a concours event!  This is a 1910 Pierce-Arrow 48-SS Semi-Tonneau built in Buffalo, New York, by the famed luxury car manufacturer.  The body style is  a sportier version of the standard touring body and the only one extant of this type known.  The car is powered by a massive 525 cu. in. (8.6 litre) engine producing 48 hp.  The car features an innovative cast aluminum body and has its original-style acetylene headlights and oil tail lamp, as well as the original Pierce-Arrow self-starting electrical system.  It would have been considered a performance monster back in the day and has been used in many vintage touring events over the years.  (As loveable as they are, Brass Era cars seem to have a limited appeal today to collectors.  This wonderful car sold for $630,000 at an auction in Pebble Beach in 2008 and was sold again in 2015 at auction for $850,000, which is not much in the way of appreciation for such a high-quality rarity.)  

1932 Lancia DeLambda Torpedo Sport, with unique coachwork by Votti

1927 Lincoln L 7-Passenger Limousine, originally owned by Robert McElroy, a Vice-President of the Standard Oil Company, and used in the television series "Boardwalk Empire" (2010-2014).  This car was restored in 1962 and therefore looks original!

A regular on the concours circuit, this magnificent 1928 Auburn 8-115 Speedster has a known ownership history since new.  It was designed by 28 year old Alan Leamy and it appears that the body was constructed at the McFarlan works in Connorsville, Indiana.

1936 Cord 810 Convertible Phaeton

1955 Lancia Type D50 Formula 1 racing car.  Owned by the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, this car is a re-creation constructed by ex-Lancia mechanics from original parts, including a V-8 engine, and a new chassis and body.

1954 Siata 200CS Coupe by Balbo, featuring a FIAT V-8 engine and being one of only 11 made.  This car has been in the same family's ownership since 1959

1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I Drophead Coupe, modified from a standard R-R sedan by H.J. Mulliner and one of nine left-hand drive models (of 13 built).  It was delivered new to actor Tony Curtis.

1962 Lotus Super Seven S2

1959 Fiat Abarth Record Monza Bialbero, with body by Zagato, restored to original condition and racing livery.  Underpinned by FIAT 750 mechanicals, the car has only 5,200 original miles on it.
1933 Auburn 8-105 Salon Phaeton
1962 Lancia Flaminia 2.5 Convertible, by Touring, making its show debut after a rotisserie restoration
Parking for the Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners' Club

1966 Porsche 906/Carrera 6 Race Car, the final street-legal racing car from Porsche

Classic motorcycles at the Malvern Hunt Concours included this excellent MV Agusta

1948 Delahaye 135M Drophead Coupe, Figoni et Falaschi.  One of eighteen built, of which nine are known to exist, and winner of Best in Show at Malvern in 2008.

1923 Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Model JM-4
One of the featured classes at the show was the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
1934 Lancia Belna Eclipse, with disappearing top coachwork by Pourtout

Winner of the Best in Show Award at the 2016 Radnor Concours d'Elegance was this 1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Sedan, by LeBaron, once owned by noted sportsman Briggs Cunningham

1967 Toyota 2000GT Coupe

1941 Packard One Twenty Station Wagon, with body by Hercules
Spyker C8 Spyder
Given its association with fox hunting, it comes as no surprise that the Radnor Hunt Concours is the only concours event that offers an exhibition of horse-drawn vehicles in addition to the internal-combustion ones.

Additional entertainment came from a musical group doing nostalgia numbers, the Bombshells:

Of course, we had to seek out our favourite brand of car and there were two nice Corvettes at the show as well.

A 1954 Corvette sandwiched between a 1957 AC Ace Roadster (foreground) and a 1951 Allard K2 Roadster
1967 Chevrolet Corvette 327/350 Sting Ray Coupe, next to a 1966 Shelby GT360 Fastback Coupe, a 1972 BMW 2002tii Coupe and a 1966 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 2-Door Coupe
The Radnor Hunt Concours is a smaller event than the big shows at Pebble Beach or Amelia Island but it offers something for every car enthusiast with some very high-quality showcars.  We enjoyed our visit very much although we will get there earlier next time for the Cars & Coffee to enjoy the big spread in the clubhouse!

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