There are cruise nights, there are Car Shows, and then there is the Concours d’ Elegance.
For example, my 35-year-old El Camino is comfortable at a local car show or cruise night. It also can be seen taking a load of garden debris to the local dump.
A friend’s totally rebuilt 1955 Chevy pickup, flawless to my eye, only gets driven on nice days and even then usually to a local car show. It doesn’t run daily errands and never gets parked in the local grocery store’s parking lot where it would be exposed to a door ding.
The concours, however, is an entirely different matter. Cars on display can have values running to seven or eight figures, the occasion is a major social event, and the site has historic significance.
Establishing one takes considerable (read year-round) organization and a solid relationship with the site’s management. The latter is a major reason why there are only two concours in Massachusetts—next weekend’s fifth Annual Misselwood Concours at Endicott College in Beverly and the Sept. 21 Boston Cup on Boston Common.
The July 27 Misselwood show will have vehicles from at least 16 states and Canada. Among the 2014 entries are a 1907 Success Model B, 1910 Peerless, 1914 Locomobile, 1938 Talbot-Lago, 1930 Bentley Speed Six, 1962 Rolls Royce Cloud II Drophead, 1956 BMW 502, and 1965 Ford GT40.
Adding to the beauty of the cars is the ambiance of Misselwood, where show cars can be parked within 10 feet of the ocean. Misselwood is the waterfront estate formerly owned by Boston Brahmin Susan B. Cabot.
“The show is all about celebrating automotive excellence and style, and the Misselwood Estate forms the perfect backdrop,” says Patrick Cornelissen, chairman of the concours and director of operations at Endicott College.
Cornelissen is the perfect host for the event. He grew up in Belgium where his grandfather owned Austin Healey and BMW dealerships and learned “the smell of oil in a shop is the same all over the world.” He pursued a career in the hospitality industry, attending Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland and working in Spain and London before coming to Endicott where he oversees event planning.
“The show is about celebrating beauty and elegance,” he says, “and our goal is continued improvement. Each August, we sit down and analyze the past event to see what works well and where we can improve. I don’t settle for the status quo.”
On Saturday, almost 100 Tour d’Elegance participants will be driving a 70-mile loop around the North Shore with a stop at downtown Newburyport’s Ferry Wharf from 9-10:30 a.m. Those vehicles are on display at Misselwood from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Sunday is the key day, however, when 125 rare and exclusive vehicles are showcased at the Misselwood property. The event runs from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with VIP ticket holders having access to the show starting at 9 a.m.
Accompanying events include a Concours Boutique and silent auction inside the main house, an outside driving experience by BMW, house and art tours, and a fashion show at noon presented by Loraine Roy of Bella Sera Bridal.
Trophy presentations will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Last year, the Ervin “Bud” Lyon III Best of Show award went to a 1931 Cadillac 452A Cabriolet owned by Charlie and Cheryl Eggert of New Jersey.
Online tickets (discounted) are available through tomorrow, July 21, at www.misselwoodconcours.com. Sunday general admission at the gate is $25.
A Three-row Success
Recently, I climbed into the third row of Acura’s third-generation MDX. It wasn’t to see if I could fit back there but instead it was to accompany my grandson on a family outing.
It wasn’t as comfy in the ‘way back’ as the first two rows, but it was a huge improvement over the second-gen MDX.
That’s one of the reasons it wasn’t surprising to see that MDX sales were up 68 percent (year to year) for the first six months of 2014.
As the vehicle nears its 15th birthday, it has sold 692,710 units, leading the three-row class it pioneered when it launched in 2000 as a 2001 model.
Along the way, improvements have been steady, but the latest MDX, introduced in mid-2013, improved both second- and third-row comfort, made the vehicle’s state-of-the-art technology more intuitive, dropped 275 pounds, and increased fuel economy significantly in real-world driving. EPA numbers are 20 city, 28 highway, and 23 combined with full-time all-wheel-drive.
Boston Cracks Top 10
Boston came in at No. 9 on a list of the country’s most-affordable cities for buying a used car, according to the second annual Regional Used Car Price Study conducted by Cambridge-based CarGurus, a car shopping and research website.
CarGurus found that prices in No. 1 Miami were on average 8.02 percent below the national average while used cars in Fresno, CA, were 7.85 percent above the average.
Boston (about 4 percent under the average) wasn’t alone among New England markets to make the “affordable” list. Stamford, Conn., (No. 4) Hartford (No. 7), Providence (No. 8), and Worcester (No. 10) all were on the good side along with New York, Cleveland, Akron OH, and Detroit. Out West, prices were higher. The least affordable bottom 10: 1. Fresno, Calif.; 2. Seattle, Wash.; 3. El Paso, Texas; 4. Albuquerque, N.M.; 5. Jackson, Miss.; 6. Bakersfield, Calif.; 7. Reno, Nev.; 8. Little Rock, Ark.; 9. Mobile, Al.; 10. Wichita, Kan..