A three-day festival of vintage cars, airplanes, and yachts
By Harry Newton
In only its sixth year, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance has become recognized by those whose opinions count as one of the major events of its type. All the ingredients were abundantly present, providing entrants, sponsors, and officials with a whirl of on- and off-site activities. The result was a field of entries that could stand against those found at some of the better known, longer established automotive contests.
A Concours pre-tour of backcountry Greenwich included a preview of retired autodealer Malcolm Pray’s newly built museum in Banksville. This facility, housed in three buildings, each measuring 4,000 sq. ft., represents an addition of about 30 cars to Pray’s existing collection at his Greenwich home. At the conclusion of the afternoon drive through the noted estate country, rallyists stopped by Pray’s Greenwich estate for poolside refreshments.
Vehicles in the Friday road rally were a cross-section of those that would be exhibited throughout the weekend. Several pre-war Packards, Rolls Royces, Pierce Arrows, and Buicks were offset by an equally fine group of sports cars from the post-war era. A truly splendid XK 120M FHC and an equally pristine Austin Healey 100M were standouts in that category, along with a Maserati 3500 Touring coupe and a mid-’60s Corvette. The newest entrant was a recently minted BMW Z8, which looked right at home among its vintage peers.
Saturday morning’s monsoon broke event organizer Bruce Wennerstrom’s six-year perfect weather record for this popular Concours d’Elegance. The Greenwich Concours attracted entries from a wide area, thanks to title sponsorship of AUTOMOBILE magazine. It also helped to have the publication’s editorial director emeritus, David E. Davis, double as chief judge and event banquet guest speaker. Antiques and classics were the focus of Saturday’s display with post-WW II sports and GT cars presiding on Sunday. The Concours continually adds new sponsors who recognize this as an ideal venue to showcase their products. New to the 2001 event were Cadillac and SAAB, joining long-time sponsors Mercedes Benz, Land Rover, Ferrari, and Lincoln-Mercury.
Even though rain made a quagmire of the harbor-front park, a prestigious field of internationally known vehicles assembled for the enjoyment of several thousand devoted enthusiasts. Included in the field was a fabulous one-off Hispano Suiza Dubonnet, brought by Charles Morse of Seattle, Washington, which was awarded Best of Show, a tribute that eluded the remarkable machine at Pebble Beach and the Louis Vuitton Classic in 2000. Also on display was Lawrence Auriana’s ex-Terry Cohn Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 cabriolet, acquired two years ago at Christie’s Pebble Beach sale.
Other strong contenders for high honors included a Nethercutt-quality 1904 Pope Hartford, entered by QUIEN SABE, as well as a pair of splendid post-war Maseratis and several Ferraris.
All and all, it was quite a splendid weekend for vintage and classic auto enthusiasts, setting the stage for an even grander event in the future.