Just 45 minutes north of New York City proper occurs the largest Concours d’Elegance in the Northeast. Held every year in early June since 1996, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance summons some of the region’s most rare and unique classic cars out of the woodwork. The first day of weekend is dedicated to American cars and motorcycles, and we picked ten of the most notable from the 2017 Greenwich Concours Americana.
1909 Pierce Arrow 36 UU Touring
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company launched in 1901 in Buffalo, NY to make the most expensive, largest, and most luxurious cars on the market. They were so incredible that President Howard Taft ordered two for himself, making him the first President to use an automobile under official pretenses. It cost $7,200 in 1903, equivalent to roughly $190,000 today. Power is supplied by a 6.4-liter six-cylinder with around 50hp. It won Best-In-Class for the Brass-Era (1905-1914).
1911 Cadillac Model Thirty
The Cadillac Model Thirty was the first car to offer a closed body from a U.S. manufacturer. The Model Thirty is also particularly remarkable as Cadillac introduced electric starter-ignition, the first to feature the technology. This, of course, made hand-cranking a thing of the past. The electric starter also supplied electricity to the car’s lighting. And you know their current slogan, “Standard of the World?” That was launched with the Model Thirty in 1908, which is when General Motors acquired the company. It won the award for the Most Outstanding Cadillac.
1922 Detroit Electric Model 90B
It’s easy to think of electric cars as a thing of the 21st century and beyond, but the electric car existed in the early 20th century as well. Prior to the invention and widespread adoption of the electric starter, getting a gasoline engine going required considerable manual effort — and early were not terribly reliable. This 1922 Detroit Electric Model 90B was pegged as a solution with 13,000 examples produced between 1907 and 1939.
1931 Cadillac 452A V16
In 1926, Cadillac began developing a new “multi-cylinder” car in 1926 with the one and only Harley Earl at the design board. This effort led to the creation of world-famous Cadillac V-16 in January of 1930. It was designed to be an ultimatum in automotive luxury, with each of the 4,076 examples custom finished according to their individual orders. Most were built in 1930 as The Great Depression forced Cadillac to scale back production. This 1931 was 452A was one of the few models produced during this lull. This example won the People’s Choice Award.
1935 Packard Twelve Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton by Dietrich
Established in 1899, Packard was a part of America’s royal “Three P’s,” a group of prestigious automakers that also included Pierce-Arrow and Peerless. But it wasn’t until after The Great Depression did Packard double-down its efforts to make even more opulent and expensive cars. This 1935 Packard Twelve Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton by coachbuilder Dietrich is no different. Not many of these are known to be around, though this specific example was said to have just finished its restoration. It’s powered by a 175-horsepower 7.75-liter L-Head V-12 mated to a three-speed manual syncromesh transmission and stopped by four-wheel drum brakes. One passed RM Sotheby’s block in Monterey in 2012 for $319,000. This example won Best-In-Show.
1934 Buick Model 98C Convertible Phaeton
The Model 98C was Buick’s greatest attempt at competing with some of the most prestigious carmakers at the time. It’s the largest series Buick built that year and only 119 were made. Of those 119, only five are known to exist today. In 2009, this one crossed the RM Sotheby’s block for around $100,100. At the 2017 Concours Americana, it won Best-In-Class for American Classic.
1948 Tucker 48
The Tucker 48 pioneered many features that later would become mainstream. Founder Preston Tucker demanded a water-cooled and fuel-injected rear-mounted flat-six engine, four-wheel disc brakes, an independent suspension, fuel injection, and easy usability. Only 51 cars were produced before the Tucker Car Corporation ceased operations. A Tucker 48 came across NBC’s It’s Worth What?, and it’s estimated value rung in at just $1.2 million. The example won The Founder’s Award.
1950 Buick Roadmaster Estate
The design of the fifth generation Buick Roadmaster is unmistakably 1950s. When unveiled in 1949, it introduced Buick’s famous “VentiPorts,” which can even be found on some modern Buicks today. The fifth-gen Roadmaster came in sedan, coupe, convertible, and even woody wagon form, as seen on display this past weekend. Early cars sported Buick’s iconic straight-eight, which would be replaced by the Nailhead V-8.
1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner
The Ford Fairlane Skyliner is first production car to feature a retractable hardtop. Introduced in 1957, the Fairlane Skyliner utilizes a collection of heavy servo motors, relays, cables, and pivoting arms to allow the full-sized roof to stow cleanly in the massive trunk. Power came from either a 5.4-liter V-8 with around 240-260 hp or 5.8-liter V-8 with 300 hp 5.8L V8. This car won Best-In-Class, American Postwar.
1968 Yenko Chevrolet Camaro
Upon the Chevrolet Camaro’s launch in 1967, General Motors limited the Camaro from carrying an engine displacing more than 400 cubic inches (6.6-liters), limiting its ability to compete with the likes of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Dart, and Plymouth Barracuda. Don Yenko of Yenko Chevrolet decided to circumvent this by customizing Camaro cars and then selling them. This 1968 car benefited from a huge list of improvements made for the second year of production, including the larger block from the L72 427 cubic inch (7.0-liter) V-8 found in the Corvette, which he mated to the heads, carburetor, and intake manifold from the Camaro SS’ stock 396 cubic inch V-8. The result was a significant boost in power from 375 hp to 450. This one Best-In-Class, Muscle Car.
1970 Buick GSX
This 1970 Buick GSX harks back to a day when Buicks weren’t best known as the retiree’s choice in Fort Lauderdale. Based off the fourth-generation Skylark coupe, the GSX came from Buick’s Gran Sport high-performance division during the Muscle Car Era. This 1970 Buick GSX was a special high-performance package, fitting a massive GS 455 cubic inch (7.5-liter) V-8 producing more than 415 hp and 510 pound-feet of torque. Its intended targets: the Pontiac GTO “Judge,” Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 W-30, and Plymouth Hemi Cuda.