My Car Quest

March 25, 2019

The Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance

If Gatsby were alive, this would be his house…

by Wallace Wyss –

Photographs by Richard Bartholomew –

When you envision Beverly Hills, if you‘ve never been there, the mansion you envision is something like the location for the Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance—a big stone block castle like place, cobblestone driveways, separate garages (big enough for apartments by themselves) a little brook forming a waterfall, a view die for, high enough so that you see the hills of Palos Verdes some 20 miles distant.

1940 Cadillac

1940 Cadillac

The mansion was built for the Doheny family, one of the first to discover oil in the flatlands of Beverly Hills (there are still a few working oil wells in the town). They left the house to the City of Beverly Hills and the City uses it for various occasions including this councours.

The Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance includes over 100 cars plus at least a dozen classic motorcycles and I have to say that they present a good selection of the finest. Oh, there are some “ordinary” cars like old Corvettes but a lot of the cars are the rarest of the rare—such as racing Ferraris, cars built to special order.

Jaguars

Jaguars

I would say “Pebble Beach” quality and when you look through the pictures in the program you see that many were at Pebble Beach. There was even one car that looks like the body is made of nickel!

The cars are parked in an ordinary parking lot, which isn’t as nice as grass, and you actually can’t see the mansion from the concours (it’s below the display area’s level) but the mansion is only steps away.

Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

This year, among the cars I thought most interesting were Jay Leno’s Cunningham Coupe, an Italian bodied Chrysler engine car built by the former America’s Cup winner and early sports car racer Briggs Cunningham in the 1950s. The Rolls Royce group had a Rolls Royce hot rod, sort of early Bugatti racer style but that was a project built in modern days on an old chassis.

Jay Leno’s Cunningham Coupe

Jay Leno’s Cunningham Coupe

Most interesting in the novelty category was a two seater Sabra, from Israel. I remember shots of that in magazines in the Fifties, and thinking it looked Ferarri-ish but when you see it in person, it is but a pretender to the throne, a sort of mish-mash of Triumph Spitfire, Saab Sonnet, and kit car styling. The frame was worth admiring though, and in the end I’m surprised they sold over 700 of them. There ought to be some special award to the contestant that brings a car that you seldom see restored.

sabra-Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Sabra

At the Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance you don’t see too many of those bringing the cars dressed in costume but we appreciated the couple who drove a Model T and wore 1920s dusters and the like.

One interesting Mercedes was a prewar car that had the side shape and rear of a 540K but then a disappointing down market grille, as if it were not quite brave enough to be a mini 540K but still exuded a lot of elegance. Aaron Weiss also showed a 1936 Mercedes 290 cabriolet with a most unusual two tone paint treatment, one I had never seen before, bringing to mind what Phil Hill told me that “In the restorations of the ‘50s lots of two tones were re-painted one tone by the restorers and the art of two toning was lost.”

Mercedes 290-Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Mercedes 290

Very odd indeed was a ’48 Lincoln Continental that seemed Jaguar-ish, turns out the green car was one customized in Hollywood by Coachcraft, that firm run by a German immigrant, so it was a Europeanized Lincoln.

In Corvettes Mike Vietro, a dealer in classic Corvettes, showed a Corvette with Mako Shark side pipes, those added “in period” for some GM executive back in the days when a high executive could order up his own custom from Styling.

Corvette-Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Corvette

In the courtyard, there were new cars on display like the Karma Revero (basically the Fisker Karma carrying on without Fisker), its rival, the Tesla, and right next to them gasoline powered supercars like Aston Martin and Ferrari. McLaren was also in another courtyard, another British supercar.

So part of the appeal of this concours is the setting. For the dealers displaying cars, their sports cars looked right at home in this kind of setting. And they allow you to sit in the cars and presumably to arrange a test drive at their dealerships.

For those who are interested in the mansion’s history and restoration, which is proceeding room by room, there were tours with docents filling you in on the lives of the original inhabitants.

Inside the mansion there was a books room, run by Autobooks Aerobooks (who also displayed a Citroen at the show) and a room of jewelry, and a special art hall on the upstairs hallway featuring, among half a dozen artists, Harold James Cleworth, one of the most prominent fine artists in the old far field.

There was also some vintage car posters being sold by David Lawrence, and a slot car track that was being actively raced on.

The concours includes lunch and you had your choice of ribs, chicken or braised beef. The view while dining is of the flatlands below. This year the weather was brisk, with threatening clouds that never quite let loose.

Mercedes 290-Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Porsches

You have to take a shuttle to the concours from various designated parking lots in Beverly Hills, because the parking lot by the Mansion is where the show is.

All in all, I think this concours is a well balanced one, the balance being between the cars and the mansion, and is one you’ll be able to interest your spouse in attending because of the mansion. Thus this concours is similar to Eyes on Design in Detroit which I believe has as its backdrop the splendid Edsel Ford mansion in Grosse Pointe, also Euro. Style…

Let us know what you think about the Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance in the Comments.

More photos of the Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance are in the slide show below.

The Greystone Mansion Concours D’Elegance web site is here.

THE AUTHORS: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist whose automotive portraits will be at Concorso Italiano. Richard Bartholomew is a renowned fine artist and graphic consultant.

 

 

Jay Leno and Wallace Wyss, Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance

Jay Leno likes this event because hardly anyone bothers him and he can tootle about being a regular car fan. Here he’s mocking presenting me, but I think I’m in permanent limbo about being featured on his Jay Leno’s Garage series…Wallace Wyss on the right

Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance 2017 Final Awards

Best of Show – Concours d’Elegance – Stan Lucas – 1929 Lincoln Aero-Phaeton

Best of Show Concours de Sport – A&A Premier Classics, LLC – 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial

Best of Class

Cadillac – Brian and Pamela Hermansader – 1940 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe

Classics – Gerhard and Adrienne Schnuerer – 1911 Mercedes-Benz SO HP Victoria

Corvette – Mike Vietro – 1963 Chevrolet Corvette

Ferrari – Bruce Meyer – 1957 Ferrari 625/250 TRC

Grand Touring – Jim Gianopulos – 1960 Maserati Vignale

Jaguar – Lee Wilson & Rory Murphy – 1963 Jaguar E-Type

Mercedes-Benz – R. Lee Brown -1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

Porsche – William Tripodi – 1962 Porsche 356

Porsche Speedster – Will Sanchez – 1958 Porsche Speedster 356A

Post-War American – Ron Berglund – 1965 Pontiac Catalina

Post-War British – Michael Hattem – 1955 Morgan 4 Passenger Drophead Coupe

Post-War Sports – Jerry Rosenstock – 1956 AC Ace Bristol

Rolls-Royce – Ron and Sandy Hansen – 1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Special Interest – Stanley Gold 1962 Sabra Sport

Special Awards

Director’s Choice – William Heinecke – 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast

Friends of Greystone Outstanding Restoration – Roland Scott – 1954 Buick Skylark

Mayor’s Choice – Alexandra Geremia – 1935 Adler Trumpf Junior Sports Roadster

People’s Choice – Peter and Merle Mullin – 1963 Citroen Dandy

Spirit of Greystone – Thomas and Robert Russell – 1926 Lincoln 149-A

SPONSOR AWARDS

BRM Award – Ian Wayne – 1961 Aston Martin DB4

Corvette Mike Award – Buddy Pepp – 1962 Chevrolet Corvette

HVA/FIVA Award – Jaime Gesundheit – 1964 Chevrolet Corvette

Meguilars Outstanding Paint – Kip Cyprus – 1957 Pontiac Bonneville

National Automotive Heritage Award – Petersen Automotive Museum – 1948 Lincoln Continental

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The Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance
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The Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance
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At the Greystone Mansion Concours D'Elegance was Jay Leno’s Cunningham, an Italian bodied Chrysler engine car built by the former America’s Cup winner Briggs Cunningham.
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