A Day of Automotive D’Elegance
BY MICHAEL COTSWORTH
The Colorado Car Culture is extremely robust and varied along the Front Range. From the amazing Rambler Ranch in Franktown, to the friendly Castle Rock Vintage Car Club, to the spectacular Vehicle Vault in Parker, to the world-class Shelby American Collection in Boulder, there are car clubs, museums, collections, auctions, cruise-ins, and car shows to attract every ilk of automotive enthusiast.
For thirty-six years, the Colorado Concours D’Elegance & Exotic Sports Car Show has been one of the premier not-to-be-missed automotive gatherings in the state. Held annually in early June, the Colorado Concours D’Elegance attracts hundreds of beautiful automobiles and thousands of appreciative spectators. Held at Arapahoe Community College just up Santa Fe Drive in Littleton, the Concours has dedicated its proceeds to support the Cerebral Palsy of Colorado charity (now known as Ability Connection of Colorado) since 1986. To date, more than $2,000,000 has been raised for Early Childhood Education Programs. This year nearly 500 vehicles were registered for the show, and attendance was upward of 10,000 people.
Hosted by 18 regional Car Clubs and automotive venues, and sponsored by more than 30 businesses from the automotive industry, the Colorado Concours D’Elegance & Exotic Sports Car Show bills itself as focusing on Sports, GT, Classics, and Exotic Sports cars, with Concours Class Judging.
A Concours D’Elegance is generally differentiated from a “car show” by having formally defined classes of vehicles and stringent marquee-specific judging criteria. Cars are grouped on the field by car type (German, Italian, Japanese, etc.), by specific make (Ferrari, Jaguar, Porsche, BMW, Lamborghini, etc), and/or by era (Antique, Classics, ’50s, etc). “For Display Only” cars whose owners have elected not to have them be judged are interspersed in their respective groupings as well.
It is fascinating to watch sport-coated and necktie-wearing judges pore scrupulously over a vehicle being judged, examining engine, interior, and chassis bits and parts for authenticity and originality, as well as conducting a literal white-glove cleanliness evaluation. Having the wrong bolt pattern on the engine block or incorrect wire color under the dash will result in point deductions. Those wire wheels had better be tooth-brush cleaned, and forget qualifying for an award if there is a visible oil leak. Concours judging can be a stressful time for owners who have spent hours meticulously preparing their cars. First, second, and third place ribbons are awarded in each class, and from the class winners, a Best of Show Award is selected. Any Concours D’Elegance ribbon, and a Best of Show trophy in particular, adds both to the owner’s pride of ownership, and the monetary value of that car!
The 2018 Best of Show went to a Pre-War 1934 Packard Super-8 Coupe Roadster, purchased by its owner at age seventeen in 1958 for $1,625. It now has over 200,000 miles on it, and participates in Classic Car tours as well as Concours around the country.
On a much less pressured level, spectators are encouraged to vote for the People’s Choice Award. Last year’s winner was a 1931 American Austin, one of only 52 known to exist. This car was built on the first day of production for the small American car company that built cars in Butler, PA from 1930 to 1934.
The Colorado Concours D’Elegance & Exotic Sports Car Show is a wonderful outing for the entire family on a (hopefully) sunny Sunday afternoon. Besides the array of beautiful and historic automobiles, there are food trucks, live music, vendors galore, and many proud owners happy to share stories about their beloved automotive babies. Of special interest this year, there were live hawks, owls, and snakes at the Nature Educators tent, a 1914 Federal vintage fire truck, a spectacular 1931 Cadillac V-12 rumble seat coupe, and more than a dozen exotic Ferraris, it being the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the Scuderia Ferrari Company by Enzo Ferrari in 1929.
For fans of other famous marquees, imagine treating yourself to a stroll through displays of more than 30 Corvettes, 20 Jaguars, 50 Porsches, 20 Mustangs and Shelbys, numerous Aston Martins, BMWs, Audis and Mercedes, and for the more esoteric enthusiast, 15 Corvairs and 20 Saabs. If you love cars, enjoy seeing gorgeous cars, lust after a certain car, or simply want an exciting, fun place to hang out on a Colorado summer Sunday, be sure to put the Concours D’Elegance, the biggest car show in Colorado, on your list.
Next year’s Colorado Concours D’Elegance & Exotic Sports Car Show is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 14, 2020. Check out their Facebook page as well as their website for this year’s event, where a link to next year’s Concours will be posted when available, at www.abilityconnectioncolorado.org/special-events/colorado-concours