2023 Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance

2023 Cobble Beach Bike
Story and Photos by Wolfgang (Sonny) Lott

Wolfgang (Sonny) Lott goes back to Ontario, Canada’s Georgian bay to report on that northern “concours on the beach.”

Friday morning finally arrived! I’d been looking forward to the 9th Annual Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance for months. This would be the 3rd sponsored by Porsche Canada.

Today, the Participant’s Tour was on and the weather promised to cooperate (with bright skies and mild temperatures). Participating cars (cars that are exhibited in the Concours and on the Tour) receive a ribbon and a dusty under carriage will not be penalized on Sunday’s Concours. Also, if there’s a tie, the car participating in the tour gets the nod.

It’s always impressive to me, these immaculate, Concours-quality automobiles, driving along a 125 km tour. At 10:30 this morning, they’d leave Cobble Beach, head south into Owen Sound, then east on 26 towards Meaford. A scenic stop at Irish Mountain Lookout, then on to Meaford Harbour for lunch.

After lunch they drive south to Grey Highlands, west to Chatsworth, north to Owen Sound and back to Cobble Beach.

I’d be terrified of damaging the car. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d be terrified of the amount of cleaning and polishing required to get the car back to its show-ready state! These Participants know. Cars are made to drive!

The Participant’s Tour is a rolling preview of the Concours. As I got to the clubhouse I could see many of the entrants gathered (parked) on McLeese Drive.

I popped into the Participant’s Meeting (in the Clubhouse) and noted they had almost a full house. I grabbed the tour information and route handout, then…time to look at the cars!

The eight (Ok, there’s actually nine, but you’ll understand) absolute standout cars on this Tour, at least for me, were:

  • The 1929 Cord L-29 (black) looking as if it just rolled off the showroom floor, this deep black (with bright orange accents) was gorgeous and immaculate. This first production front-wheel drive car has a low roof line, scalloped fenders and the hard-covered side-mount spare tire cover options. I loved the detailed door handles.
  • The 1935 SS Cars Limited SS One Airline Saloon (silver) I’d never seen one in person before; this 4-seat saloon coupe is all-silver with special light blue leather, and sports the low-slung, swept back, streamlined Art Deco design.
  • The 1956 Jaguar XK140 MC OTS (white) I’ve seen these before, but never one of the Special Equipment models; as indicated by the “MC”, which means it has the wire wheels and C-Type head (made for the C-Type Le Mans racing cars) with 210 hp at 5,750 rpm and dual exhaust.
  • The 1959 Porsche 356 Carrera (Adria Blue) an early, Pre-A “bent window” 356, in a gorgeous Adria Blue Metallic with Blau Grau leatherette interior. It has under 8,000 km on it and is stunning.
  • The 1960 Chevrolet Corvette (Cascade Green) I have never seen this colour before and it looks great on this C1. Only 65 of 10,261 Corvettes were painted Cascade Green (apparently, it was part of a “female-friendly” marketing scheme but the colour proved unpopular and was soon dropped). Very nice.
  • The 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray L-79 (Elkhart Blue) this 350 hp, 327 4-speed, C2 looked fantastic in Elkhart Blue with Teal Blue interior.
  • The 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L-71 (black) this C3 T-top, 427 V8, 4-speed, was stunning. It had the removable rear window and side exit exhaust factory options.
  • Two (Yes, Two!!) 1965 Lamborghini 350GT’s (one black, one silver) I’ve never seen a 350GT before…and here, there were two! The 350GT was the first production Lamborghini car. Only 143 cars were built before the car was revised into the 400 GT 2 + 2 in 1966. Equipped with the 4 cam, 3.5 litre, 60 degree V12, and 5-speed, these cars must sound magnificent.
  • The Nero (black) paint with Tobacco leather interior model was gorgeous, and this car would be displayed in Exhibition Class 19 (60 Years of Lamborghini).
  • The silver with red leather model was just as stunning and it would be entered into Class 13: Exotic Cars Pre-2000.

The lead car, again this year, belonged to Show Chair and Founder Mr. Rob McLeese and was his lovely yellow 1970 Porsche 911 Targa.

I got some photos of the Tour leaving the Cobble Beach community, and I trailed behind them, noting that along the route, people came out curbside, (from Kemble, to East Linton and Owen Sound) with lawn chairs, watching the automotive procession.

As they turned off to Irish Mountain Lookout, I went on to Meaford Harbour to find a spot to catch them coming in and then get photos while they were parked there for lunch.

When the procession left the Harbour, I went straight back to Cobble Beach to stake out my spot to watch their return.

The Participant’s Tour was fun and enlightening. I felt pretty sure that my standout picks would do well in the Concours, but then of course, I hadn’t yet seen all the entrants. Seeing these great cars in motion and seeing the spectator’s responses as the drivers smiled and waved was an awesome sight.

Saturday Morning, Sept. 16, 2023: Cars & Coffee

Once again, Mother Nature supplied bright skies and mild temperatures as I made my way into Downtown Owen Sound where streets (2nd Ave. E. between 7th St. E. and 10th St. E.) would be closed off for the Cobble Beach Concours Cars & Coffee event, from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM.

Only cars at least 25 years old may participate and the organizers reported 130 cars participating. Brackett Auto Group was presenting this event today.

From where I parked, I walked right past the Roxy Theatre and grabbed a photo – this is where there would be two seminars given, later this day:

  • “60 Years of History”, by Porsche Canada, and
  • “12 Decades of Design and Innovation”, by GM Global Buick Design.

It was great to see so many people walking about, taking in the automotive sights. There were lots of young families, kids, adults and seniors… all appeared to be enjoying the beautiful day and great cars. This event was very well attended, so much so, it was occasionally difficult getting through the crowd. Seems to have become a very popular event in downtown Owen Sound.

Saturday Afternoon, Sept. 16, 2023:

Concours d’Lemons

Since it was almost Noon, I decided to leave the Cars and Coffee event a biy early and head over to the River District of Owen Sound where Hagerty was presenting the Concours d’Lemons on 1st Ave. W., between 8th St. W. and 9th St. W. This was being held from 11:30 AM until 4:30 PM and was well worth seeing.

This tongue-in-cheek Concours celebrates the oddball, mundane and truly awful of the automotive world and is part of Hagerty’s partnership with the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The literature states, “The Concours d’Lemons honours aesthetic and technological underachievement and the wacky folks who love it.”

I should have made a point of photographing the many yellow Hagerty signs that were distributed about, as some were quite humorous.

Not quite as big as the Cars and Coffee event, it nevertheless, seems to be a hit. It was very well attended and held in a shady and picturesque part of town.

Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023: Concours d’Elegance

Sunday morning threatened rain, but I had some rain gear packed although I had hoped there wouldn’t be any downpours at this 9th Annual Concours.

It was definitely overcast when I got to the Clubhouse at about 9:00 AM. and some of the Porsche display cars were still covered in plastic.

This year’s event celebrated:

  • 75 years of Porsche (and 60 years of 911),
  • 120 years of Buick,
  • 70 years of Corvette and
  • 60 years of Lamborghini.

Porsche Cars Canada chose this year’s Concours to host the Porsche Classic Restoration Competition and Porsche Centre Teams from across Canada were there to showcase their restoration efforts on some iconic, classic models. Nine Teams were chosen and nine Porsches were entered into the exhibition under Class 20: Porsche Classic Restoration Competition.

Porsche Cars Canada, now in their 3rd year of hosting the event, created some very nice displays at the entrance to the Concours. Of particular note, were the new 911 Dakar in Roughroads livery and a lovely new 718 Boxster in Rubystar Neo that was strategically placed under a large green leafy tree.

Judging by the quality of the cars I saw at Friday’s Participant’s Tour I knew the cars here would be amazing. I began walking through the Classes and first, photographed some of the beautiful hood ornaments.

The most notable cars, to me, in my initial exploration, were:

  • The 1929 Cord L-29

It was even more stunning than my first viewing last Friday at the Participant’s Tour. It placed 1st in Class 3 and was awarded Best in Show!

  • The 1938 Peugeot 402 Darl ‘Mat Special Sports Roadster

I had never seen this car before. A Parisian, Emile Darl’mat, owned one of the largest Peugeot dealers in the world in the late 1920’s. By the mid-1930’s, he had enough pull with Peugeot that he was allowed to produce a car bearing his name. Designed to race, it could be ordered as a cabriolet, coupe or roadster (as this car is). It paced 1st in its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. 53 examples were built and 30 survive today. Beautiful! It placed 2nd in Class 4.

  • The 1935 SS Cars SS One Airline Saloon

This was just as stunning as it was in my first viewing at the Participant’s Tour. It is one of the 624 originally produced and only 16 are known to exist. It placed 1st in Class 4.

  • The 1927 Bugatti Type 39/35B

This is the ultimate 2.3 litre supercharged version of the Type 35 – often referred to as the “winningest car in racing history”. This particular example is a factory team car from 1927, it is believed to have raced at the Spanish Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Rome. It continues to be raced to this day and won the first Canadian Bugatti Grand Prix at Mont Tremblant in 2013.

  • The 1956 Jaguar XK140 MC OTS

 This car is just as pretty as when I first viewed it at the Participant’s Tour on Friday. This beautiful Jag was shown at the 2022 Ontario Jaguar Concours where it earned a score of 99.5 out of 100. Here at Cobble Beach, it placed 2nd in Class 5.

  • The 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce

This car was loaned to Road & Track magazine, by the company, for its road test review (July 1967 edition). The Editor then, Dean Batchelor, picked up the car from the Port of Long Beach and then shared it with the staff. He appreciated this car so much, he bought it and kept it a few years. It placed 3rd in Class 5.

  • The 1976 Ferrari Dino 246GT

This car is gorgeous, and it has been with the same owner for almost 40 years. The current owner drives it in rallies, on the track and whenever an opportunity for a drive occurs. I have photographs of this car, at various GTA car events, as far back as 2015. It placed 1st in Class 5.

  • The 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A

This stunning car as seen on the Participant’s Tour last Friday. It is finished in a gorgeous Adria Blue Metallic and was my favourite in Class 6. It placed 3rd in Class 6.

  • The 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster

The stripped down, minimalist Speedster (introduced in 1954 at the urging of Max Hoffman, the famous New York importer) was an instant success.

This example from 1958 represents the final year of production for the 356A Speedster and this car placed 2nd in Class 6.

  • The 1959 356 Carrera

A gorgeous black Carrera that was delivered in March 1959 with 15 options. Only 31 “plain bearing” Carreras were made in 1959 and 19 were coupes. Nothing is known of this car until it was found in a barn in Canada in 2003, intact and with 32,000 km showing on the odometer.

It placed 1st in Class 6.

The nine Porsches in the Porsche Restoration Competition were all spectacular. I thought the white 1987 911 Carrera (from Edmonton, Alberta) and the Bamboo Beige 1981 911SC (from Laval, Quebec) were the standouts. The white 1987 911 Carrera (from the Porsche Centre Edmonton) was awarded the Best in Class 20: Porsche Classic Restoration Competition.

I had the opportunity to check out automotive artist, Mr. Jay Koka’s display tent, and briefly speak with him. If you’ve not seen his artwork yet, you should visit www.jaykokastudio.com.

I then visited the display tent of an automotive photographer I greatly admire, Mr. Hannu Palovuori. Although he was not there, I asked his wife to pass on my regards and admiration for his work.

Around 10:39, an alarm sounded over loudspeakers broadcasting over the green. Ed Lucas, the long-time Concours MC, then delivered a warning: an approaching storm was unpacking thunder and lightning – and everyone was ordered off the green to seek shelter.

I managed to get a few photos of the mass exodus off the show green, and then sought shelter myself, under the clubhouse patio overhang. While awaiting the storm, and it’s end, I spoke with some Concours Volunteers.

Most had been volunteering for years, citing the great cause (benefits go to Sunnybrook Foundation and the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation). They also praised the good people they worked with (the event organizers) and the fact that after they had completed their “shift” (usually 3 or 4 hours) they had free access to the Concours. All these good folks were car people as well!

At 12:30, Mr. Lucas announced the storm had passed and it was safe to resume the event.

Walking across the green again, I photographed scenes and cars that glistened with the fresh rainfall (some of the entrants still had their plastic rain covers on).

The most notable cars on this afternoon’s exploration, were:

  • The 1959 Chevrolet Corvette (Snow Crest White with Inca Silver coves)

This Corvette was equipped with its original 283 cubic inch engine and 2-speed Powerglide transmission and won 1st Place in Class 7: Classic C1 Corvette 1953-1962

  • The 1960 Chevrolet Corvette (Cascade Green)

This is a rare colour on a Corvette and it was just as stunning as when I first saw it on the Participant’s Tour. It’s equipped with the 283 cubic inch engine and 4-speed manual T-10 transmission and won 2nd Place in Class 7: Classic C1 Corvette 1953-1962

  • The 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray L-79 (Elkhart Blue) was first seen on the Participant’s Tour and was still gorgeous equipped with its 327 cubic inch engine and 4-speed manual transmission. It won 1st Place in Class 8: Classic C2 Corvette 1963-1967
  • The 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L-71 (black)

was just as stunning as it was on the Participant’s Tour. This T-top Corvette sports a 427 V8, 4-speed manual transmission and the 4.11 Positraction rear end. It won 1st Place in Class 9: Classic C3 Corvette 1968-1973

  • The 1965 Lamborghini 350GT (silver) another car seen on the Participant’s Tour and breathtaking! One of 120 alloy-bodied cars built by Carrozerria Touring in the Superleggera (super-light) construction method; this 3.5 litre, 4 cam, V12, 5-speed ZF transmission-equipped car weighs in at a trim 1,450 kg. It took 1st in Class 13: Exotic Cars Pre 2000
  • The 1966 Porsche 906

Carrera 6 “No. 906-128”

Now this was my absolute favourite car in the entire Concours! A stunning lightweight race car that ushered in a new generation of racing Porsches. Designed in a wind tunnel, the Type 906 emphasized weight reduction with a tubular steel space frame wrapped in sleek fibre glass bodywork and powered by a 911-derived 2.0 litre flat six engine producing 210 hp.

Although this particular car never raced there, Porsche debuted the 906’s at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours with a best-in-class win followed by an overall win in the 50th Targa Florio race in May. The model then scored a class win at the 1000 Km of Monza.

This particular example was not judged in class as it has a non-original engine installed (the owners report they do have the original factory engine.)

This car was however, awarded the AACA–Spirit of the Hobby Award at this event.

  • The 1986 Ford RS200S is one of only 20 RS200S ever built and features the upgraded engine capable of 350 hp (a modification identified by the adjustable boost control behind the drivers seat! It won 1st in Class 12: American Rad Rides of the 1980s
  • The 1901 E R Thomas Auto-BI motorcycle was one of the first, if not the first, of the North American made motorcycles. They were made from 1900 to 1902 and the company’s sales pitch was: “The motor does the work. No hills – no head winds. Always coasting. Any speed – any distance.”

The Judges initially awarded this motorcycle 1st in Class as it was so well done and presented. However, there was one issue: the bike runs but due to it being a 1901 model, the carb leaks fuel profusely and does so overtop of the spark plug (which is obviously a potential fire hazard). For motorcycles to place 1st, they have to start and run. The Judges assigned no 1st place award in Class 16: American Vintage Motorcycles Pre 1980, and instead, awarded this bike 2nd in Class!

  • The 1942 Indian 442 motorcycle was a gorgeous bike—1942 being the last year of production for this particular engine in this particular model. This bike was equipped with the plunger rear suspension, large decorative fenders, 16-inch balloon tires, drum brakes front and rear and a 77 cubic inch engine. It won 3rd in Class 16: American Vintage Motorcycles Pre-1980.
  • The 1951 GM Buick LeSabre Concept was conceived as Harley Earl’s personal automobile, it was heavily influenced by the dawn of the jet age (specifically, the North American Aviation F-86 Sabre jet fighter) and this famous car is just gorgeous as the Sabre! It won 1st in Class 18: Prototype and Concept Vehicles.

The “rain delay” did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for this, the 9th Annual Cobble Beach Concours. Every year I attend this event and I think, they can’t possibly top this. Then they do, every year!

Kudos to the Concours Team and all the volunteers!

For next year’s Concours, be sure to put September 13, 14 & 15, 2024 in your calendar! Their advertising for that show says it all:

Coming in 2024….

  • Glamour cars of the Space Age (50’s & 60’s)
  • Classic Station wagons (pre-1975)

I’m looking forward to it, again!

 

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