The seventh annual Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, in Greenwich, Connecticut, was drenched in sunshine this year and blessed with the best field of cars in its history in terms of breadth and depth and provenance and stories. It's the only concours in the United States that offers cars, motorcycles, airplanes and an in-the-water vintage and modern boat show, just a few steps away from its base at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in the southwest corner of Greenwich.
We like Greenwich so much that, if our sister magazine Automobile weren't already sponsoring it, we'd be in there kicking and scratching to do the honors. The event has an endearing and enduring quirkiness and an amateur, not to say unprofessional, quality to it. This show is put together each year by Connecticut car nuts Bruce and Genia Wennerstrom as a way to show off their cars, their friends' cars, and the cars of friends of their friends. Pretty soon, you're talking about a lot of collectors with a lot of beautiful cars from every corner of the car world and the weird car world. And they do it without major automotive sponsorship, and without the "honored marque" routine that some other shows use to rope in manufacturers for help every few years in rotation-so far.
There is stuff here that Meadow Brook and Pebble Beach and Amelia Island probably wouldn't take, but it is that very stuff that pastes the goofy smiles on the faces of those who come here year after year to see what Greenwich has to offer.
A front-door BMW 600 Isetta minicar nestles in the same grass with a French-built Avion-Voison limousine the size of an aircraft carrier. Malcolm Pray's immaculate Army Jeep, with virtually no miles on it, graces the same field as a Morris Minor panel delivery van and a Ferrari Testa Rossa. Over the two days, there are 20 absolutely heart-rending motorcycles from every era. There were two completely different kinds of Cadillac V16-engined cars sharing space and time with a whole handful of great classic Alfa Romeo race cars, Ferraris and Mercedes-Benzes. They even had the Cadillac V16 limo MGM Studios bought to carry around the great actress Greer Garson in Hollywood. And, of course, the DeHavilland DH71 airplane from 1927.
As always, the field was laid out in circles of cars of similar ilk and timing, with a mix of American and European classics on Saturday and a full field of different cars on Sunday, all European, for the Concours Europa segment, the main reason we always go to Greenwich.
With the waterfront location of the park and the mature New England trees dotting the landscape, the Greenwich Concours offers shade, cool breezes off the water, a train station one block away and Interstate 95 two blocks away. It's fully expanded to a three-day event now, with participants able to do a formal road run on Friday afternoon, culminating with a visit to a local collector's car collection. Last year it was retired Greenwich megadealer Malcolm Pray, who always shows four or five of his cars at Greenwich and about whom we've written before. This year it was local collector and Italian car specialist/Alfa collector Larry Auriana, who hosted the last stop on the road rally.
Another highlight for us was the pure growth of the perimeter of the event, which features small, low-key manufacturer displays from car companies (Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Saab and Volvo, to name them all), an art tent full of automotive art for sale, and just enough food and drink vendors to get by on. Last year, neither Maserati nor Mini were doing business in this market. This year, they both are, and both were represented with product at the event, and both awarded trophies, for Best Maserati and Best Small Car, respectively.