My Car Quest

April 23, 2024

The Benedict Castle Car Show

by Wallace Wyss –

I won’t call the Benedict Castle Concours Car Show a concours–too many cars are modified. But it’s not a hot rod show either–there were some million dollar classics there–my favorite a custom bodied prewar Bugatti from the Nethercutt Museum and a Delahaye from the Mullin Museum (and thank you Museums, for giving us a preview of what’s in your Museum).

The Benedict Castle Car Show

What makes this show memorable and worth going to each year in Riverside is that it’s in a castle. You read that right. A castle. Now it happens that in my trots ‘cross Europe in the ’50s through the ’80s I’ve been in real castles, like that German one in the Bavarian forest, Neuschwanstein, built by a mad Royal starting in 1867 but a copy of maybe 17h century.

This castle in California in Riverside is sorta/kinda, as good as you’re going to get in the Inland Empire. Old enough to have been used as a movie set (Bride of Frankenstein?). So what makes this car show for worth going to is the castle, and the low entrance fee for spectators–a laughable $10–about 1/10th of the spectator fee for the La Jolla concours.

Another man I enjoyed meeting was Luc one of the sons of the famous Orange County coachbuilder Marcel DeLay. Luc was showing an aluminum bodied car unpainted with his own design. Actually he credits the design to Chip Foose who, after Marcel built a tube frame for the body came in and laid a body shape that’s pretty close to full fendered Testa Rossa.

And it would not be a car show without the “Prince of Wales,” (not to be confused with real British royalty) Gary Wales. Wales emerged into the classic car world big time after he traded a French car for a French-bodied Bentley unrestored, and restored it as flamboyantly as anything done pre-war and sold it for over a million. Aside from stock restoration on his own car he created some that should have been stars in a Disney movie, with gold filigrees and other elegant trim.

The Benedict Castle Car Show

And there’s celebrities at this show. Maybe no worldwide famous names but I enjoyed talking to Chip Foose who was there at the last minute with a pretty stock looking Ford coupe, prewar, he once was a Chrysler designer but came back to his native California to build rods like his father.

Sometimes at these shows you see the latest from Europe. I was puzzled by a mid-engine coupe that said Radford on the front (the name of car modifier from England big in the ’40s and ’50s) I’ll read up on it more but I suspect it’s one of those shops that is carrying on with the tradition of a company taking a stock car, and offering modifications, the way Callaway did to Corvettes, only this time it’s a Lotus.

The Benedict Castle Car Show

Sometimes at shows like this, you come across cars you don’t expect to see, like you didn’t know they were worth collecting but now that you see them, you can understand their desirability. Like here were two, count ’em, two Studebaker Daytona Lark convertibles. One was a horrific pink (I’ll spare you from shots of that). I am old enough to remember visiting Studebaker’s at their Detroit HQ and it was like going into a time machine and going back 20 years compared to the Big Three automakers. Orphaned cars are very educational–showing paths followed by heir builder that led to oblivion.

The Benedict Castle Car Show

A nod to the Sixties was three dune buggies. I don’t think any of them was the new electric one coming out as the new Meyers Manx.

There is food–a nice terrace and tables to use while dining but that VIP pass raises the cost. Even the low rider contingent had a few entries–glad to see their owners trying out a concours like setting.

Do I want this show to become a more serious concours? No really, this way it’s a mix of various genres–a great show to take a guest to who doesn’t know one car from another –they just know what they like.

So next year I ‘spect to see you there. I’ll be attired like I would if invited to a castle…dressed to the nines, whatever that is….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car histories. As a fine artist, he is presently doing oil portraits of classic cars on commission. He can be reached at malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 

Wallace Wyss at The Benedict Castle Car Show

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The Benedict Castle Car Show
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The Benedict Castle Car Show
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What makes the Benedict Castle Car Show memorable and worth going to each year in Riverside, CA is that it's in a castle.
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Comments

  1. This looks like a fun event – I like the variety.

  2. Dan Scott says

    That “horrific pink” ’62 Studebaker Lark Daytona convertible took home 3rd place in the 1955 – ’75 American Post-War Division.

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