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Meadow Brook Hall, Michigan, 02 August 2009

The thirtieth anniversary running of the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance once again graced the lawns of Meadow Brook Hall, a 1920s built Tudor style mansion, constructed for the widow of automobile pioneer John Dodge. The hall is one of the main historical features of the sprawling Oakland University campus in the town of Rochester to the north of Detroit in Michigan. Over the years the concours has built up a strong reputation for its relaxed ambience, great vehicles and serene setting, with associated motoring tour, gala dinner and RM Auction.

The 2009 running featured the “Best of Detroit”, at a time when the car industry in “Motor City” and elsewhere is on its knees, this was a fitting boost to the confidence of car makers, by highlighting their greatest moments, to bolster their resolve to return to strength in the future. Amongst the milestone models on display were the opulent Cadillac V-16, initially of 7.4 litres displacement, produced between 1930 -1940, and the 1957 – 1959 Ford Skyliner with its complex retractable hardtop arrangement that featured miles of electric cables, servo motors and sundry levers and switches, that saw the roof retract into the trunk in less than sixty seconds. Another model to feature was the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, which has been resurrected with the 2010 model year version, drawing strongly from the original design concept.

Another feature was “1959 The year Detroit Went Wild”, the year that chrome and fins became true excess, probably best exemplified by the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, with its spectacular bullet tail lights in huge swooping vertical fins. Other classes included Swoopy Coupes, the Roaring Twenties, Rolls Royce Phantoms, pre and post 1956 Sports Cars, American Muscle 1964 to 1974, Drag Racing – The Factory Years, and a featured museum, this being the Gilmore Museum, details of which can be found at www.gilmorecarmuseum.org , which is considered one of the top five automotive museums in the USA. The content may read as though it is predominantly American, but there was plenty of European content within the cars and motorcycles on the field. One of the most spectacular was the Fiat 8V Ghia Supersonic of David & Ginny Sydorick from California, whilst the bright yellow Dino 206 S Competizione Speciale with its dominant front and rear wings, of Jim Glickenhaus, was also a great crowd pleaser. There was also a rare Abarth 1000 SP sports racing model, a variety of Jaguar models, examples of AC, Allard, Lancia, Mercedes, MG and Morgan, together with pre-war examples like Delahaye, Peugeot, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot Lago and even a 1930 Tatra.

The show has two Best of Show awards, one for an American automobile and the other for a Foreign one. The former was won by the 1934 V-12 Packard Sport Sedan with Dietrich body owned by Ray Scherr from California, and the latter by the 1939 Delahaye 165 Figoni & Falaschi Cabriolet belonging to the Peter Mullin Foundation, also based in California.

David O’Neill