2009 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance

It may not carry the cachet of the Pebble Beach show, but for the last 30 years, the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, held in Rochester, Michigan, has managed to draw some spectacular cars–and this year’s show was no exception.

The weekend of the Concours kicked off with RM Auction’s annual Meadow Brook Collector Car Auctions. If there was a pattern to the cars that rolled across the auction block, we couldn’t see it. Lots ranged from a 1971 Dodge Challenger Indy 500 pace car convertible, to a beautifully crafted replica of Karl Benz’s 1886 “motorwagen.”
One trend we did notice was with the bidding–with few exceptions, buyers seem much less willing to open their checkbooks as they had in years past. A dozen or so vehicles managed to reach their low-bid estimates, while only one car–a beautiful fuel-injected 1957 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, which sold for $105,000–exceeded RM’s highest expectations. Only four of seven cars estimated to sell at over $200,000 actually did, including a 1931 Auburn 851 SC Speedster, which fetched a substantial $420,000. As much as we’d love to park a 1956 Jaguar XK 140MC roadster, a 1930 Cadillac V-16 convertible coupe, or a 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial dual-cowl phaeton in our garage, these cars failed to find new homes over the course of the weekend.
The Concours itself began early Sunday morning, when cars gingerly wheeled their way onto the greens surrounding Meadow Brook Hall, the former residence of Matilda Dodge Wilson. Although a number of themes were celebrated at this year’s show (including “Best of Detroit,” “Fins and Chrome: the Convertibles of 1959,” and “Swoopy Coupes”), racing aficionados likely flocked straight to the group of McLaren cars. Bruce’s company celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, and no less than three cars, including the Indy 500-winning 1974 M16, were present.
Also making an appearance at the show was car-collector James Glickenhaus’ 1967 Ferrari 330 P3/4 Spyder. The car, with chassis number 0846, won the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours, but was later scrapped after numerous crashes. Although hardcore historians may not approve, Glickenhaus’ car was re-built from a number of the original components, including the tube-frame chassis.
As the show wound down in the late afternoon, judges awarded one foreign and one domestic car “best-in-show” trophies. This year, the awards went to both a beautiful 1934 Packard V-12 Sport Sedan and a swanky 1939 Delahaye, which also won the People’s Choice award.
-Andrew Peterson

-Photos by Andrew Peterson and Andrew Trahan