Classic Cadillacs, muscle cars and a 1940s Italian roadster built for a Milan perfume designer dominate world-class show on the shore of Georgian Bay
KEMBLE, ONT. — A once lost 1946 Alfa Romeo Pininfarina Cabriolet Speciale commissioned by wealthy Milan perfume designer Giuliana Tortoli di Cuccioli was voted best of show and people’s choice at last weekend’s Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Guild of Automotive Restorers in Bradford, Ontario restored the sleek one-of-a-kind roadster with aerodynamic styling, disappearing folding top and chrome dashboard for its American owner over a six-year-period.
When the roadster was first introduced, designer Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina defied a war-related ban on Italian cars at the 1946 Paris Auto Salon by showing the Speciale roadster across the street. The Speciale got the most attention despite not being part of the show. The custom roadster went on to win Concours d’Elegance shows in Turin and Monte Carlo, and became one of Europe’s most famous cars of its era. Austin of England subsequently purchased the famous car and its design cues were used to create the Austin A90 Atlantic introduced in 1949.
The 8,000 spectators attending the fifth annual show at the scenic 574-acre Cobble Beach Golf Resort community on the shore of Georgian Bay outside Owen Sound, Ontario saw some of the best collectible vehicles from Canada and the U.S. The vehicles displayed on the 18th fairway represent more than a century of automotive design and engineering.
Cadillac cars dominated the event, with London collector Steve Plunkett given a special award for his contributions to the hobby. He displayed seven Cadillac cars from his collection of 47 examples. The custom-bodied 1941 Cadillac limousine originally built for the Duke of Windsor and his American socialite wife Wallis Simpson took a best of class award at the show. Regarded as one of the most important Cadillac cars ever built, the $14,000 limousine owned by the king who abdicated the British throne in 1936 to marry his lover had many custom features including the industry’s first power operated window lifts.
Plunkett’s other Cadillac cars on display included: a 1930 roadster with a V16 engine; a custom-bodied 1934 V16 roadster; and a 1958 Eldorado Brougham originally owned by comedian Bob Hope. He also showed his 1940 LaSalle convertible, 1953 Buick Skylark convertible and a 1958 Buick Caballero station wagon.
An audacious one-off 1937 Cadillac Fleetwood boat-tail roadster originally built for country singer and Hollywood actor Tex Ritter was a showstopper. The car is part of the Jean-Pierre Viau Collection in Montreal.
The oldest Cadillac at the world-class car show was a massive 1912 Model 30 touring car owned by Tom Huehn of Warkworth, Ontario. The car was equipped with the first self-starter in the automotive industry that eliminated the need for hand cranking.
Chief Judge John Carlson, who is from Vancouver, led an international team of accredited experts. His judge’s choice for the event was a 1970 Chevelle coupe with the LS5 454 cubic inch engine displayed by John Bishop of Redlands, California.
“The muscle car class is the best I have ever seen,” said the veteran concours judge who presides at numerous events in Canada and the United States.
Best of class award for American muscle cars went to a 1967 Mustang Shelby GT350 displayed by original owner Hunt Palmer-Ball. The Louisville, Kentucky native ordered the car new when he worked for Burns Ford – the largest Shelby dealership in Kentucky. He equipped his car with extra speed equipment and took it drag racing before eventually treating it to a thousand-point restoration.
The Bruce Grey Simcoe award for excellence, given by the Bruce Peninsula resort area where the show is located, went to a white 1967 Camaro Z28 owned by Montreal’s Paul Etheridge.
The most outstanding pre-war car award went to a stunning V12-powered 1933 Pierce Arrow convertible coupe owned by Toronto’s Brent Merrill. The stylish convertible with its 175 horsepower engine is one of only five cars of this type built by the Pierce Arrow company of Buffalo, New York. A prominent Los Angeles attorney originally owned the open car.
Lincoln automobiles were well represented with a dark red 1957 Continental Mark II taking the best of class award along with being given the Poetry in Motion award. The car with a matching red and cream leather interior that cost $10,000 when new is owned by John Csiki from Keswick, Ontario.
A rakish custom-bodied 1937 Lincoln K LeBaron coupe complete with a side door for golf clubs was displayed. Only two dozen of these leather-topped coupes were built. It is owned by Tom Brace from St. Paul, Minnesota.
The hot rod class award went to another Lincoln of that era – a 1938 Zephyr convertible coupe that has been completely customized by owner David Jolley of Norval, Ontario.
From the same Ford family is an ultra-rare Canadian-built 1940 Mercury four-door convertible awarded best in class. The car was rescued from long-term barn storage and restored by owner Robert Sinclair of Buckhorn, Ontario.
The chairman’s award selected by concours founder Rob McLeese went to a 1971 Ferrari Daytona coupe restored by Ferrari of Ontario president Remo Ferri. The rare Ferrari was up on blocks in a Toronto condominium underground parking garage for 25 years before being rescued and restored.
This Car Matters award went to one of the two early production fuel injected 1963 Corvette split window coupes on display. Hugh Welsford of Mississauga, Ontario, owns the winning car.
“Seeing the cars on the green golf course with diamonds dancing on the water in the background is really a thrill,” concours chairman Rob McLeese said at the conclusion of the show.
His goal is to bring even more world-class examples to Cobble Beach for the 2018 show. In just five years, he and his team have created a one-of-a-kind classic car event in Canada that raises more than $50,000 per year for hospital charities.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. [email protected]