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Kirkland Concours

  • Written by Tom Berg

kirkland_concoursI recently attended the KIRKLAND Concours de Elegance in of all places –TACOMA! This event has been held at Carrillon Point in Kirkland for the past nine years and now that we have a world class venue for such an event at the LeMay-Americas Car Museum in Tacoma, it has moved south but retained “Kirkland” in its name.

These concours events started in Europe in the 1800s as an event where the wealthy could show off their carriages and continue to this day as an event where the “one percenters” can show off their “investments.”

Unlike our local car shows where the car owners just show up, these vehicles were shown by invitation only. For some reason, they didn’t invite me to show any of my cars. Probably just as well since I doubt that I could ever even get my cars as clean as the ones that were showcased at this event. Many of these magnificent cars were locally owned but there were entrants from as far away as Pennsylvania (an Italian who keeps most of his cars in Rome brought 10 cars!). There were also some of our local vintage unlimited hydros such as the Slo-Mo IV and a nice assortment of vintage English motorcycles. The best of show winner was an extremely rare 1933 V-16 Marmon which is all the more interesting since it was a very expensive luxury car produced in the height of the depression. Of course Marmons and most of the other high end luxury cars went out of business in those years.

The cars shown ranged from early 1900’s horseless carriages to modern Lamborghinis, and they all looked brand new and to be fair, I must note that they all run, are mechanically sound and some of them even get driven now and then. Cleaning these cars after a drive would take longer than the drive! I was particularly amazed that anyone could design, let alone manufacture, such amazing vehicles 50 to 100 years ago and that today’s restorers can bring them back to their former glory (for just a few hundred thousand dollars). Often replacement parts have to be made from scratch since there are no parts available for most of these cars.  It’s not uncommon to spend a year or more of historical research just to find out how the car looked originally.

Since I was there I took the opportunity to tour the LeMay-Americas Car Museum. I am a member and had yet to check it out. One could easily spend several hours there. There  must be several hundred cars of all sorts on display on three floors and the ramps between the floors along with information on each of the cars and educational displays.  Even if you’re not a car aficionado, just the historical perspective of vehicles in the growth of our country should be enough reason to visit this great car museum. The displays will change periodically so repeat visits will be necessary.

Next stop for me:  Monroe swap meet on October 6 where I’ll be hanging out with my 65 Mustang in the car sales area hoping for a buyer when I’m not checking out the vendors looking for something I think I really need.  There won’t be any “Concours” cars there but  I’ll  be in my element having fun.

And last but not least, I was pulling into Big Foot Bagels as I do most mornings and was happily driving my 48 Studebaker convertible when I spotted in the parking lot my former 1954 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop which was easily identified, being a very rare model and in baby blue with a black top. I reluctantly sold it several years ago and it’s been one of those cars that I wished I hadn’t parted with.  The owner was right there so we talked about what I had always called “Mr. Belvedere.”

It was in great shape when I sold it: 54,000 miles, straight body, mechanically sound, all stock with one repaint. The current owner just bought it and stated the seller had done some engine and clutch work and that he now had a few mechanical items to address.  He is a Chrysler guy as well as very mechanically capable so I’m pleased to know that “Mr. Belvedere” will be living locally and well cared for.  All’s well that ends well.

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