My Car Quest

May 27, 2018

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance – 2018

by Wallace Wyss –

Photos by Richard Bartholomew –

Every old car fan dreams of going to the Pebble Beach Concours but that’s over $300 a ticket now. A far less costly approximation can be found at the La Jolla Concours held each April on a stretch of grass overlooking probably the most beautiful cove in California, the La Jolla Cove.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

The town is a little village in the North part of San Diego. The concours attracts classics but I would say, in contrast to Pebble Beach, the cars are “more reachable” (ie. affordable) classics, and mostly postwar.

There were upwards of 50 cars on display and at least a dozen new cars by automakers because this event has heavy participation by the local Bugatti, Ferrari and Rolls Royce dealers. The most commodious display though, was the one by a yacht company, as maybe befitting the cost of what they were trying to sell.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

More than Pebble Beach, this concours has plenty of couches on which to sit and rest, and imbibe in free beverages. The concours is actually the third event, the show starting with a tour on Friday, a party on Saturday and a concours on Sunday so I would say it makes for a memorable weekend.

The featured marque this year was Lincoln, and I not only got to see several of my favorites, the four door convertible of the Sixties, but a “formal” limousine, which is every bit as elegant as the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham limo of the Fifties. But the Lincoln that knocked my socks off (do they still say that?) was one 1948 Continental customized by Coachcraft of Hollywood and I have to say that I think it influenced the Rolls Silver Cloud.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

A too plain interior compared to the Rolls but a noble American effort nonetheless. The history sign in front said it was a Sedanca de Ville which means when the top was erected, you could still have the front part open, a style lost to America.

Since Lincoln was the honored marque they also had the very latest and huge Lincoln SUV which drew a lot of admirers. They didn’t show the pricetag but I was told these can be as much as $100,000—take that Bentley Bentaga!

Over in British cars there were two MG chassis, which were like huge MG TDs but with more Bentley like coachwork, and the owner of one explained they were from a period when MG tried to compete with Jag and Bentley with a car that was like 1/8th the price of a Bentley, and I say they convinced me!

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

This concours also had a half dozen Ferraris and the California Spyder was the most spectacular, but all the Ferraris were parked only a couple feet apart so you couldn’t really admire them from afar.

They also had some muscle cars, such as a Chevelle S6 coupe, a ’67 Camaro Yenko coupe, a Plymouth Superbird and others and I am glad they don’t discriminate against “American iron.”

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

Porsches got a lot of play, besides the Fifties Speedsters there was a ’65 coupe, and a ’79 Porsche 930 Turbo.

In race cars one really outstanding car “with a story” as they say was a Lola T160 race car that was ordered by Ford way back before they made the GT40. Unlike some historians who say that this chassis was used for the GT40, the cars were only used as testbeds to test the Ford V8 engine and Colotti transaxle and suspension parts being developed by Ford for their GT40. This one survived Ford’s testing and was bought by a Shelby race driver who kept it for a half a century and then restored it.

Another memorable car was a Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, one of a run of close to 100 cars that Ford had built for drag racing with a 427 big block.

This concours has no predjudice against Japanese cars (it is yours truly that thinks the only Japanese car in a concours should be a 2000GT and indeed they did have one of those) so they had two Honda S600 cars. Also in Japanese cars was a ’64 Mazda R360 coupe and a ’67 Mazda Cosmo 110S, the latter a two seater with a Wankel engine, must have been the first Japanese sports car with a rotary.

The Mullin Museum, one devoted to French cars, had a ’36 Bugatti Type 57 C Aravis. Not to be outdone the Petersen, a rival museum with a different focus, fielded a ’29 Ruxton Model C roadster.

French cars were rare on the ground there this year but I admired a 1951 Sima 8 Sport Cabriolet which was elegant, despite Simca not being known in the US as a luxury brand.

One marque that doesn’t get much ink is the Siata, made in Italy, but the ’52 208CS spyder by Bertone shows that it was not just imitating Ferraris and Maseratis but worthy of being in their league quality wise.

This particular author is not so big on showing replicas with the production cars, because a replica Cobra can be bought today that’s the spitting image of a 1965 Cobra but the owner doesn’t have to do any work compared to the owner of the origianl who might have had to restore a bedraggled one over many years. Still those replica Cobras at the concours were part of a commercial display, so I guess since the commercial sponsors pay some of the bills, I won’t gripe.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

There was a nice lunch for those that bought a ticket entitling your entrance to it, though us members of the press just looked from a distance, salivating.

The weather couldn’t have been better, and the nice thing about his show is that it is next to a shopping district that is less expensive than Beverly Hills but bathed in ocean air (by the way the average house price in La Jolla is $2.3 million, which gives you an idea of the ambiance of the neighborhood).

Another nice thing they do here is have about 20 cars outside the fenced in concours so that shoppers in La Jolla, drawn by the site of the activity, can see enough interesting cars to get excited about paying the entrance fee to see the concours contestants.

All in all, if you live in Southern California and don’t think you can make Pebble, this is a Pebble-in-Miniature that you can go to and enjoy…. Visit their web site here.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, is pouring through his pictures to decide which of his favorites to depict in oil on canvas. A list of his art is available by writing Photojournalistpro2@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 

 

 

More photos are in the slide shows below.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

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The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance - 2018
Article Name
The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance - 2018
Description
The La Jolla Concours attracts classics but I would say, in contrast to Pebble Beach, the cars are “more reachable” (ie. affordable) classics, and mostly postwar.
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Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this. Thank you, Wallace, for your words and Richard, for your pictures. The SoCal light shows off the exhibits beautifully.

    However, those last 3 pictures in the first set of pictures here are of the Lola Mk 6, not the 160, the latter being a somewhat later car. Although, I don’t know who authored it, I would commend the online Wikipedia entry for the Mk 6. This was a hugely significant precursor in the Ford GT40 story, and I think had a profound influence in the way that car evolved.

    • wallace wyss says:

      My mistake. Haven’t visited that subject in years. I think there’s some satisfaction by Mr. Grant for buying the car when Ford/Shelby was done with it and saving it all these years. As it turned out the Lola marque progressed onward from there so he chose a future winner as far as reputation of the firm. . I wish I would have talked to Eric Broadley about his fight with Ford while he was in their employ. He was the one who wanted them to go with an alloy chassis while Ford insisted on steel. I hope if it goes to auction he gets over a million, which he should for believing in the car all these years.

      As for Rick’s pictures, it amazes me how we can be at the same meet and shoot the same cars yet his come out richer, and more interesting than my photos. Ah, but that’s where I take out the paintbrush…

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