While scale of the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance is nowhere near that of Pebble Beach or Amelia Island, don’t take that as a condemnation of the show as a whole. In fact, the event is just small enough to maintain a relaxed atmosphere while being still significant enough to attract some really impressive vehicle collections.
This year’s event was more than double the size of last years and there were plenty of impeccably maintained vehicles from almost every era. And just as a rising tide lifts all boats, the growth in entrants also brought an increased number of strange, rare, and uniquely engineered cars from the depths of automotive history. So without further ado, there are the six most interesting cars from the 2017 Atlanta Concours d’Elegance:
1905 Locomobile E-Roadster
The Locomobile E-Roadster stands out for its “make and break” ignition. The setup is named so because it slowly separates two metal plates in the head before quickly remaking the circuit. This slow separation creates an arc in the cylinder, which ignites the compressed air-gas mixture. While ‘make and break’ systems were common at the time, they were quickly phased out. The low spark temperature, metal plate wear, and abuse on the battery meant that engine designs quickly transitioned to higher voltage, hotter spark systems as soon as possible.
1963 Studebaker Avanti
While on paper, the Avanti seems rather normal, its story is quite crazy. The Raymond Loewy-designed car was developed as a last ditch attempt to revitalize Studebaker, which explains why this ultra-futuristic, supercharged V-8-toting machine was stylized in a monumental eight-day effort, but then mounted onto a modified Studebaker Lark chassis. While the car set records at the Bonneville Salt Flats and happened to be the first American Car with front disc brakes, the high price tag moved fewer than 6,000 models, most now lost to time.
This particular Avanti was used as a daily driver by Studebaker president Sherwood Egbert.
1950 Healey Silverstone Roadster
The Healey Silverstone was one of the first sports cars sold in a homologation capacity. All 104 consumer models in existence—the minimum needed for Healey to race—were essentially race cars with the minimum equipment needed to be streetable.
The front headlights hide behind the grille for aerodynamics, the spare tire performs double duty as the rear bumper, and the four-cylinder motor features a clean air intake. In addition, the front windshield could move up out of street legal position for races. Oddest of all, the entire car rests on four independent trailing arm suspensions, avoiding the variable camber of double wishbone setups.
Since the Silverstones were made for competition, most were raced hard and left out to dry, meaning that there are few left in existence.
1947 Delahaye 135
Delahaye’s post-war designs epitomized the art-deco automotive scene. The Type 135 was the company’s high performance model, earning the name Coupe Des Alpes for its victories in the alpine hillclimb.
This specific model features a clutches four-speed pre-selector transmission. The driver chose the gear via the H-pattern gear selector, and the epicyclic transmission and magnetically controlled clutch would take care of the rest. Considering that it existed when computers were a nascent technology that took up an entire room, the shifting setup is a wonder of analog engineering.
1937 Mercedes 540K Cabriolet
The Mercedes 540K is a gorgeous car. Everything from the metal exhaust covers to the swooping fenders to the long hood bodyline is a straight injection of pre-war art deco inspired artistry.
While the car’s supercharged V-8 mated and five-speed manual transmission don’t really seem like anything out of the world, the supercharger was toggled on and off by a throttle-mounted switch. Floor the gas pedal and the supercharger’s magnetic clutch engages, adding an additional 70 horsepower to the motor’s baseline 110. Owners could also use a “Mad Max” style switch to turn the supercharger on or off at will.
1956 Arnott Country Climax 1100
The Arnott was designed by, produced, and raced by Daphne Arnott at the 24 hours of Le Mans. Considering the fact that women seldom pop up in motorsports history, Daphne’s integral role makes this fiberglass-upon-tube-frame racer rather unique. In addition, the 1952 car was produced before the C1 Corvette engineered mass-produced fiberglass, so the Arnott’s unusual body was composed of a cloth/resin mix that has mostly withstood deterioration over the past 60 years.