After getting the car to the standard of a possible award winner many of them get around on various shows
over the following years to get the most out of the restoration, well established concours see many of the
collectors every year and they are more than happy to get to new venues when the project seems to be
promising. Sometimes it helps that the concours can look back to historic roots to attract entrants, on other
occasions the location itself creates the attention. Looking back to the early years of the concours those
locations were often to be found at posh spots like Paris, the Cote d´Azure or the Villa d´Este at Lago di
Como where the wealthy owners spends their holidays as nowadays is the California coast or Florida. The
Hamptons would also spring to mind but Las Vegas might not be the first name to mention as most people
only associate the Strip with its Casinos and blinding lights with the City of Sin and so a discussed F1 race
might be more obvious than a classic car show so one has to congratulate the organizers of the first Las
Vegas Concours for their braveness to put together such a show.
About 15 minutes South-East from the bright Vegas lights the Dragonridge Country Club in a gated
community in Henderson was the location for the inaugural event presenting around 140 cars in no less than
21 classes giving the numerous judges a lot of work. The cars on show span the whole spectrum from world
class examples of American and European coach-built before the war to more recent supercars. Just at the
entrance to the show field two of the highlights of the show (although only on display rather than in the actual
concours) could be found with the cover car, the Phantom Corsair and the highly rewarded Hispano-Suiza
Dubonnet “Xenia” from the Mullin collection.
The Phantom Corsair dating from 1936 was developed for Rusty Heinz from the ketchup-dynasty to showcase
the car of the future. Only one single example of this 6-seater exists today and is located in the National
Automobile Museum in nearby Reno, Nevada hosting the former Harrah Collection.
Entering the show field the first classes to the left where the most traditional and also maybe the most
interesting ones with the European Coach built cars before the war. Those are always contender for the top
award on every concours and Las Vegas did not make an exception. The big names from Bugatti, Isotta
Fraschini, Bentley and Mercedes were represented in two classes early and late and saw some great cars.
Starting with the imposing examples from Isotta Fraschini with LeBaron body and the straight six and eight
cylinder supercharged Mercedes and contrasted by the small and nimble design of the Bugatti 51 as well as
the elegance of the Type 57. The Mercedes-Benz SSK from 1928 with unique Erdmann & Rossi made its
post restoration debut in LV although the car was not judged to make further appearances in Pebble Beach
and Amelia Island possible. Especially the PB concours prefers to have cars judged first and due to its high
prestige it normally gets those “first times”. Just next to the huge two-seater was the French Counterpart with
the Bugatti T51 Dubos, like the Mercedes a race-proven chassis bodied with a road going bodywork but
comparing with the proportions of the Erdmann & Rossi design the “baby-Atlantique” certainly looked more
refined and elegant. The smaller engine resulting in a shorter front certainly helped the designer compared to
the Mercedes and the car from the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar north of LA did not only convince the
public but also the judges not only winning its class but at the end also the Best of Show in the pre-war
category. Nethercutt had not only one of its gems from the collection presented but also the Packard 1108
LeBaron Phaeton “Hussy” whose color inspired a make-up line in Nethercutt’s cosmetic company. The
Packard 1108 is the only American car to win the Pebble Beach Concours in the last ten years when Joseph
Cassini took the crown in 2013 but to Las Vegas he brought his 1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria by
LeBaron that won the Quail Lodge Motorsport Gathering earlier in August. The Stutz did not only win its
class but was also runner-up in the pre-war category for BoS.
This leads us to the post-war cars. After the more traditional classes in the earlier year the selection of
classes now spread out more into details with two classes for Chevrolet Corvette and one for Pony/Muscle
cars or car from the “Rat Pack” era including the ex-Sinatra Dual Ghia introducing some local history of Las
Vegas into the concours. Those more specific American classes are very popular on these shows as more
visitors have personal relation to these sort of cars than to the exotic pre-war cars and more stories to tell.
One of the stories was the one of the pink AMX that certainly stood out due to its color as it definitely is not a
color one would expect on a car like that. But the fact that this car was donated to the Playmate of the year
1968 by the magazine certainly explains it and after both the car and the former Playmate having a rather
colorful life Miss September 1967 Victoria Vetri was reunited with the restored car in Las Vegas.
From the European post-war cars two stood out, both from Italy. The Ferrari 250 Europa Vignale from the
Cogan collection could add another Best in Class as well as the overall Best of Show pre-war to its collection
after winning the Swiss Concours just a few months earlier. But the new award was not the only addition to
the family as the owner’s son proposed to his fiancée during the award ceremony, one of the more personal
moments of a rather routine ceremony.
The second car to be mentioned was a small OSCA prototype, a 1600 GT designed by Michelotti. The car
was not only admired by the public but also impressed the judges resulting in a well-deserved Best in Class
of its era.
So what is the conclusion of this weekend in Vegas? The difficult first edition is done and one has to show
something for the future to attract owners to the concours who might have waited for the first edition to make
their mind. Some good cars proved that there is potential in the selection despite the fact that a few classes
looked rather like space-filler. The concours was not only presented at one of the 18 holes of the golf club but
span a second one with car not only out of sight from the visitors but also not considered important enough to
be judged leaving the question whether they helped the cause or not. It might be considered as a varied
selection for every-bodies taste or the lack of a focus that might be difficult to achieve in a first year but one
can hope that the Concours will find its identity in the years to come. Asking the people involved there might
have been a few flaws in the organization but nothing that cannot be corrected soon. The main issue might be
the location itself. Certainly the country club provided a great background with the views into the Las Vegas
Valley and the nearby mountains but the restricted access did already proved difficult in the first edition and
questions the potential of the event to grow in terms of visitors. The parking was rather problematic and the
fact that every visitor had to be shuttled to the field might have kept some people away. With a large field the
day never looked crowded and although this might look nice on the pictures it definitely is not what organizers
need. Maybe the American way of doing a concours almost necessarily on a golf course might not be the
right choice here but on the other side Las Vegas is not really known for having historical backdrops other
than that. Apart from that we enjoyed visiting the concours and one of the benefits for all the attendants
certainly is that the city that never seems to sleep provides accompanying program all by itself.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof