Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hemmings Concours d'Elegance, Saratoga Springs, New York, September 25, 2016


With out strong interest in classic cars, it was only natural to have a subscription to Hemmings Classic Car and it was through this interesting publication we learned about the 10th Annual Hemmings Motor News Concours d'Elegance, held at the Saratoga Auto Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.  It was an easy drive to get there, with our route taking us through the beautiful Adirondacks.

As usual for a concours show, the cars were divided into classes.  While there were a large number of cars present, we spent our time at the event focused basically on the cars categorized as Full Classics and Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg.  This meant passing by a lot of vehicle classes that would have been interesting in themselves, such as Tailfin Evolution (the photo above), Triumph, European Postwar, American Muscle Cars, Vintage Trucks, etc., but there is only so much time available so you have to pick out what interests you the most.

We did begin at the entrance to the show with American Prewar, which offered up 13 cars including some ubiquitous Fords.  But there were other treasures on display as well.

American, Prewar

1923 Detroit Electric



1910 Elmore Model 36 Demi-Tonneau
It is always so nice to see Brass Era cars, which are vanishing into extreme old age, and it was delightful to get acquainted with a car I had never heard of when I had a long conversation with Mr. Shaw, the owner of this 1910 Elmore, which has been in his possession for nearly fifty years.  The Elmore Bicycle Company was founded in Elmore, Ohio, in 1892, moving a few years later to Clyde, Ohio, where experiments with two-stroke gasoline engines began and the first cars were built in 1900; the company was now the Elmore Manufacturing Company.

Small production ensued and the cars became "modern" in that they had a four cylinder engine mounted in front, a steering wheel instead of a tiller, and a driveshaft leading to a rear differential.  But they continued to use the two-stroke for motive power.  In the days before reliable engines, the company that simplification was the answer and a two-stroke has far fewer parts than a comparable four-stroke engine.  

By 1908, the company sales had reached a heady 608 units and at this point Billy Durant swept up the company in 1909 for his General Motors conglomerate.  Elmore was one of many companies Durant grabbed, thinking that if he assembled enough different technologies something was going to work.  The two-stroke patents that Elmore Manufacturing possessed were probably expired by 1909 and in any event in 1910 Durant was thrown out of General Motors (for the first but not last time).  Production was moved to Detroit in 1911 but the financial managers of GM lost interest in it, along with a number of other Durant-era underperformers, and the last Elmore rolled off the line in 1912.

Mr. Shaw's car was the base model Elmore for that year and cost $1,750 new.  With its 254 cu. in. engine rated at 36 hp, the car was supposed to be good for 50 mph, and Mr. Shaw has actually gotten it up to 60 but it was not a comfortable experience.  There are very few surviving Elmores: besides this one there is a 1904 Runabout in the Henry Ford Museum collection and another one taking pride of place inside the Elmore, Ohio, public library!  

When he purchased the car in 1971 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Mr. Shaw only knew it was an old car and had no idea what an Elmore even was.  Although it was complete, it needed restoration and has been brought into superb condition over the years.  Mr. Shaw is 87 years old and had all the enthusiasm for a much younger person.



1915 Ford Model T
1930 Marquette Phaeton
The Marquette brand was a "companion" brand of Buick, similar to LaSalle for Cadillac or Pontiac for Oakland, that was perfectly timed for the Great Depression, the result being that the Marquette was produced for only eight months.  This handsome Phaeton, one of only 889 built, was shipped to South Africa for final assembly, including right-hand drive, and eventually ended up in Ohio in boxes.  Restoration of this extremely rare car was completed by the current owner only six months before we saw it at Saratoga.

One of the prime reasons we had made the trip to the Hemmings Concours was because one of the display classes was Auburn Cord Duesenberg, some of the most extravagant cars built in America.  There was a fine group of seven cars, dominated by a magnificent 1931 Duesenberg J Rollston Victoria Convertible.

1931 Duesenberg J, with body by Rollston.  Designed by Rudy Creteur, it is one of 12 constructed


A superb 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet, which we previously saw on display at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum
1937 Cord 812 interior

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton (foreground), Auburn 815 behind it


1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Phaeton


1936 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan

1932 Cord L-29 Convertible
Of course, where you find Auburn and Cords, you are bound to find Packards as well and the concours offered an excellent selection of these as well.

1927 Packard 526 Runabout


1933 Packard 10th Series Convertible Sedan.  One of 29 built in 1933, it underwent a 14 year restoration, being completed in 1998 and is now in the permanent collection of the Owl's Head Transportation Museum in Maine.


1934 Packard 1104 Super 8 Club Sedan: no trailer queen, in 2013 this car was driven from New York to San Franciso along the Lincoln Highway route, then south to Santa Monica before returning east on Route 66, a total of  8,000 miles of driving (and requiring 1,000 gallons of gas!)

1937 Packard 1506 Touring Sedan

1930 Packard 733 2-4 Coupe
This attractive Packard coupe had a hard life as once it became "only" an old car, it had its body slashed and it was turned into a tow truck.  The present owner, Mr. Lingenheld, had never restored a car when he took the project on and not only did the mechanical and body work but even bought an industrial sewing machine and taught himself to use it so that he could do the interior.  Most cars at concours events have been restored by professional shops so it is particularly impressive to see such a successful completion by an owner.

1929 Lincoln Model L Sport Phaeton, body by Locke




1934 Lincoln Roadster 523 KA

1937 Cadillac V-16 Imperial Sedan
1934 Pierce-Arrow Model 1248 Town Brougham
1934 Pierce-Arrow Model 1601 Convertible Sedan


1934 Bentley 3 1/2 Litre

1932 Chrysler CH Imperial Convertible Sedan, and one of its competitors, a 1932 Studebaker President



1932 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan
Awarded Best in Show at the Hemmings Concours (only a few months after taking top honours at the Greenwich Concours in Connecticut), this 1932 Studebaker is one of only two known to exist.  The top of the line from the manufacturer in South Bend, Indiana, it was powered by a straight eight engine producing 120 hp, the President line was meant to compete with Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard and 2,399 were produced over the six year production run from 1928 to 1934.  The car was originally sold in California and followed its owner to Mexico for retirement in the 1940s, returning to California in the 1970s.  It languished there as its owner sold off parts, including the engine.  The current owner, Mr. Varros, undertook a 10 year restoration of the car and, amazingly, was able to locate and purchase the original engine, as well as a 1932 President Sedan to use for parts.  The owner did most of the mechanical work himself.


European Postwar class, featuring Porsche 356s
Winner of the Preservation Class: 1916 Marmon Model 41 Club Roadster

1966 Cobra 427 Roadster: this car was stolen and dumped in the Erie Canal canal after a fatal hit and run.  Dredged out 13 months later, it was eventually purchased by a local shop owner from the insurance company for $390 in 1969 and eventually restored over four decades to as-new condition.

1930 Riley 9 Special Brooklands


1963 Ford Mustang III Concept Show Car: a one-of-a-kind two seater built for Ford by a designer who subsequently hid the car to prevent it being crushed

1929 Ford Model AA Flatbed Truck

1932 Ford Model A Deluxe Pickup

1954 Cunningham C3
Sportsman Briggs Cunningham wanted to race an American car at LeMans and established a factory/workshop in West Palm Beach, Florida, to produce suitable cars.  To meet LeMans homologation requirements as well as to pay for the racing project, he produced the Continental C3 road car from 1952 to 1954.  A C-2R racing chassis was equipped with a Chrysler engine, then the whole thing was shipped to Italy to receive a body and interior by Vignale, and then shipped back to Florida for final assembly. Wildly uneconomical, only 25, at prices ranging from $8,000 to $12,000, were ever built (20 coupes and 5 convertibles) and all still exist.



Lee Holman, whose family business of Holman and Moody was responsible for much of the success of the Ford GT40 in the 1960s, was a special guest at the Hemmings Concours,and brought a number of vehicles including the new 1966 GT40 Mk II his shop manufactures, with a roadster version on display

1963 Ford Galaxie stock car
And a blog entitled Cross-Country Corvette can never pass up the chance to post about Corvettes so here is the sole one to be seen at the Hemmings Concours d'Elegance:

1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
As fellow Corvette enthusiasts, we spoke at length with the owner, Mr. Ebeling, who bought this car in 1971 for $1,500 and drove it into the 1980s, after which point it languished in his garage.  A close friend harassed him mercilessly to restore the car, which he offered to do, and a body-off restoration began in 2006, with the car finished a year later.  

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