Greystone Concours Captivates Beverly Hills

The organizers of the 2011 edition of the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance faced no small challenge in staging a sophomore event that could surpass the 2010 debut in terms of quality of cars on display, luxury amenities offered, and overall user experience.  But if there are automotive gods, then they were clearly smiling on Greystone last Sunday, providing clear skies and sweeping smog-free views of Los Angeles that extended to the ocean, as well as warm temperatures that starkly contrasted last year’s cloud-covered inaugural event.  An outstanding field of vintage automobiles, of course, proved to be the piece de resistance of the concours, which is held at the Greystone Mansion, the onetime home of the influential Doheny family that sits atop a Beverly Hills ridge.

The Friends of Greystone, a non-profit that manages the city-owned property, once again galvanized the considerable resources of Los Angeles’s numerous automobile collectors to amass a who’s who of the niche.  While the Petersen Automotive Museum, leading auction house Gooding & Company, and even the Armand Hammer Foundation lent their support as active sponsors, exhibited cars came from active local collectors such as Bruce Meyer, David Sydorick and Peter Mullin, who owns a car museum of his own in Oxnard, California.

Mullin’s fantastic 1934 Voisin C27 Aero Sport (pictured above) took the Best in Show award, triumphing over more than 150 cars that were competing in 11 different individual class categories.  His renown as one of the country’s leading collectors of prewar French cars was duly supported by the dramatic and sporty Voisin, whose combination of age, design, and rarity add up to one of the most desirable collector cars ever produced.

Event organizers drew lessons from last year’s event that resulted in copious food and beverage stations with much shorter lines, and a less crowded arrangement of the automotive-themed vendors set up for business within the mansion.  The appearance of several world-class collector car luminaries leading seminars on their areas of expertise, including automotive photographer Michael Furman and classic car appraiser/writer Donald Osborne, further augmented the authentic automotive pedigree that the concours is obviously striving to achieve.  This goal was perhaps most evident in the organizers’ successful attempts to gain the sanction of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), an international body that promotes the preservation and event-based road use of classic cars.  The Greystone Concours is but one of a handful of American car shows that have garnered FIVA sponsorship.

A sampling of winners…

The 1956 Jaguar XKSS owned by the Petersen Automotive Museum won the Jaguar class, adding to its list of appearances as of late.  Once owned by Steve McQueen, the XKSS is one of only 16 ever produced, and was driven across the Pebble Beach platform last August by Tata CEO Ratan Tata in celebration of Jaguar’s 75th anniversary.

Almost equally rare is this 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, owned by David Sydorick.  Its win in the Postwar British class added to a Motor Trend award at the Desert Classic Concours two months ago.  The car is one of just 20 DB4GT examples that were clothed in styling house Zagato’s curvaceous and decidedly Italian coachwork.

Mayor’s Choice went to Jack Nethercutt’s 1967 Ferrari 365 California Spider.  Though his eponymous museum in Sylmar, California generally features prewar American cars, Nethercutt obviously couldn’t resist the appeal of the 365 California, of which only 14 examples were produced.  The model featured a much higher quotient of luxury than the prior 250 GT-based California Spyders, and can be viewed as somewhat of a forerunner to today’s Ferrari California.

The American Sports Car class was won by this 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 owned by Ron Busuttil.

Paul Emple’s 1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A “Flying Star” won the Prewar European class.

The Spirit of Greystone award went to Richard Stanley’s 1928 LaSalle 303 Roadster.

Mike Malamut’s 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Special won the Postwar European Sports Car class.

And as usual, I’m compelled to offer my personal faves, though they took home no awards:

Bill Pope’s 1957 Jaguar XK-140 is a one-off that wears Zagato coachwork.

Pope also owns this 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4, one of a select few that were bodied by Bertone.  Like Sydorick’s Aston Martin, both of Pope’s car’s showcase British chassis engineering with Italian body design, and beautifully so.

1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt owned by Gerard DePersio.

1964 Morgan Plus 4 owned by Dennis Glavis.

The well documented 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa owned by noted Beverly Hills collector Bruce Meyer sits in a V with Jack Molinier’s 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.

Tom Shaughnessy’s menacing 1954 Ferrari 375MM Spyder leads a pack of Maranello’s finest.

Malcolm Schneer’s 1956 DeSoto Adventurer has a front fascia both sinister and spectacular.

Bob Segui’s 1953 Nash-Healey Le Mans Coupe (foreground) is flanked by Shawn Williams’ 1953 MGA 1500 Roadster.

Recognize that granite jaw in profile?  Jay Leno backs one of his Duesenbergs into place and then fetches something from the trunk.

The Petersen Museum’s 1947 Cisitalia 202 – the Pininfarina design that many enthusiasts regard as the first benchmark of the postwar European sports car.  Its shape would inform a legion of Ferraris to come.

Local exotic car dealer the Auto Gallery showcased their partnership with McLaren Automotive to co-host one of the manufacturer’s new boutique dealerships.  MP4-12Cs like this one will be in those dealerships later this year.

Ferrari Row

The Greystone motor court