My Car Quest

October 24, 2019

The Benedict Castle Concours, Riverside, CA – March 2019

Text by Wallace Wyss –

Photography by Richard Bartholomew –

It pays for a concours to have a “hook,” something unusual about it, and I hafta say that the Hook of the Benedict Castle Concours held each Spring in the Inland Empire is the location on the grounds of a castle built in the 1920s in Riverside CA.

The Concours is produced by George Cross and company, a company that has produced the Pomona Swap Meet for many years. All the proceeds go to Teen Challenge, a drug and alcohol recovery program (and I was pleased to see the teens working the event as volunteers.)

Custom car

They enticed two major automotive museums to participate, the Petersen in Los Angeles, sponsoring a VIP Pavilion, and the Nethercutt Museum setting up a tea and fashion show.

The idea is that for the guys, the cars are the thing, but their wives can be enticed if there’s something related to fashion and al fresco dining. And of course the public could buy a narrated tour of the castle (I managed to make my way 2/3rds up the high tower to see what the view must have been like when Hollywood movies were filmed there).

The cars are an eclectic bunch; a few genuine prewar classics but about 90% postwar including such diverse cars as Packard Caribbeans and Bentley R-model sedans.

Custom Car

This show is located in an area with many hot rodders and ‘50s cars fans so I would say that those two categories dominate the show. In fact there was one classic prewar car that looked like a Pebble Beach candidate until you read the sign and discovered it had a modern day engine, plus, unseen, a modern suspension, these called “restomods.”

The photographer I was with decried the all too common practice of participants having the hoods open so they can show off their engines, which deprives us photographers from taking a picture of the whole car. That and absurdities such as fast food window trays, stuffed animals and the proverbial kid crying on the bumper are, to my mind, not something we pay a hefty fee for to see at a concours.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

So this show is a combination of sorts, a hot rod show, a custom car show and a few classics.

But I did have two great conversations there. Both involved Camilo Pardo, the recently retired Ford designer who is credited with the ’05-06 Ford GT. He happened to be showing a car with a lady friend next to a ’51 Ford and I asked him if he’d mind doing a walk around the Ford and critiquing it for me as I wanted to see it through a designer’s eyes. He was very happy with the car, discovering a new praiseworthy feature every few feet as he walked alongside the car, which he said “had a surprise every minute.”

Suffice to say it was an American hot rod, channeled, sectioned, the whole nine yards but there were so many sports car touches it looked like it was done by somebody who knew the Mille Miglia in ’48 as well.

Next I introduced Camilo to Gary Wales who was showing his latest creation, a Buick called the Y-job which is a more or less exact copy of the first concept car Earl produced (before the LeSabre) and drove to work in. Wales, who usually specializes in Bentleys, has a place in his heart for Harley Earl and this labor of love shows that. Camilo loved its art deco trim.

Buick Y-Job Concept

Buick Y-Job Concept

So for me the joy of the show was hearing a professional designer’s reactions. At Pebble Beach, they have many famous designers judging but they are so busy there’s no chance for a spectator to ask them their opinion of a car’s design, alas.

Fortunately in recent years they have been having presentations before the concours where designers speak and there might be opportunities there, but there’s no substitute for standing right in front of the car and getting their reactions seeing the car for the first time.

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Custom Car

I could see the Benedict Castle event either going full classic (unlikely) or full hot rod and custom cars, but it may be that, considering it is 40 miles out of Los Angeles, they can’t go too much in any one direction or they fear they would lose the spectators they have now.

More photos are in the slide show below.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 automotive histories. As a fine artist, he specializes in fine art portraits of cars for owners in oil on canvas. He can be reached at mendoart7@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Richard Bartholomew is an artist and photographer based in Southern California. He is open to interesting consignments and can be reached at zeroagenow@aol.com

Benedict Castle Concours

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The Benedict Castle Concours, Riverside, CA - March 2019
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The Benedict Castle Concours, Riverside, CA - March 2019
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This show is located in an area with many hot rodders and ‘50s cars fans so I would say that those two categories dominate the show.
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