While Hurricane Matthew raged to the south, the small town of Braselton, Georgia, which sits roughly 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, enjoyed sunny skies and warm temperatures while it played host for the inaugural Atlanta Concours d’Elegance at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. Co-founded by Bill Wallet and Harry Krix, the show featured around 200 classic automobiles distributed through several classes that ranged from pre-war Chevrolets and Pierce-Arrows to ‘70s Ferraris, Porsches and BMWs.
The Atlanta area seems a good locale to hold such a show. The city is now the home of the North American operations of both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, while Braselton itself is home to the Road Atlanta racetrack and Panoz Motors headquarters. Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series and a man many credit with saving professional sports car racing in the United States, was honored at the event and a large selection of Panoz road and race cars were on display. Panoz-owned Elan Motorsports and DeltaWing Racing and Technologies also call Braselton home; each showcased several cars, including a Champ Car and a DeltaWing DWC13. Meanwhile, ride-and-drive sessions were available to show-goers in a number of high-end sports cars from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren.
Chateau Elan’s golf course provided a scenic backdrop for the sheet metal on display. Though attendance was impressive for a first-year event, the venue never felt overcrowded, with plenty of room available to admire, inspect, and appreciate the stars of the show. There is no shortage of concours in the U.S. these days, but Atlanta appears to have the right characteristics to attract a healthy selection of interesting cars for years to come in an atmosphere that is more intimate than larger, better-known events. If you find yourself in the vicinity this time next year, the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance is well worth a look. Meanwhile, read on for nine of our favorite cars from this year’s show.
1970 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato
As one of Zagato’s more avant garde designs, this Kamm-tailed Alfa Junior isn’t often described as pretty — but it certainly is unique. Built on the legacy of the Guiletta SZ and TZ series of alloy-bodied race cars, the Junior Zagato was designed from the start as a road car and used Alfa’s 105 and 115 series chassis that also underpinned the GTV and Spider in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The engine was a little 1.3-liter, twin-cam, two-carb I-4 that made around 90 hp – enough to get the 2000-lb car to over 100 mph.
1972 Datsun 240Z
Datsun’s 240Z has been getting increased attention ever since Nissan purchased a handful of used examples to treat to factory restorations a couple decades ago. Though many Zs were built, their low price meant that many were put into disrepair or destroyed altogether when repair costs exceeded their worth. Today, values are on the rise and the 240Z’s significance as a car to prove the Japanese auto industry was capable of building more than econoboxes is well known. That this car was on display at the Atlanta concours is representative of the industry’s recognition of the model.
1957 Porsche 356A Speedster
The 356 Speedster was designed to be a cheaper, stripped-down version of the 356 Cabriolet that would appeal to Americans who would otherwise put their money towards more value-conscious English sports cars. That, of course, is contrary to their status today as one of the most valuable of the 356 variants. Because of the Speedster’s lighter weight and cut-down windscreen, many people bought them to race. This example has spent plenty of time on track itself but still looked to be in lovely condition.
1954 Arnolt Bristol Brolide
Chicago businessman Stanley “Wacky” Arnolt began creating various Italian bodied versions of English cars and selling them as Arnolts in the United States. After working with MG, Aston Martin, and Bentley with limited success, Arnolt turned to Bristol to supply its 404 chassis and six-cylinder engines. Bodywork was styled by Franco Scaglione, who was working for Bertone at the time. Various versions were built, including a coupe. This model was essentially the racing version with a few amenities added to make the car tolerable for occasional street use. A pure racing variant won its class at the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring.
1961 Maserati 3500 GT by Frua
This gorgeous Maserati ended up winning the Post-War Best in Show award, deservedly so. One of two ever built (the other’s whereabouts are unknown), this car was specially bodied by Italian design firm Frua and spent the first decade of its life in Switzerland before finding its way to the United States. Its styling is very similar to the extremely rare Maserati 5000 GT (also bodied by Frua) and it has passed through the hands of several prominent Maserati enthusiasts, being restored to original specification in the process.
1965 Citroen 2CV “Familiale”
This was one of the most unique and entertaining cars at the Atlanta concours and it only cost its current owner $2,000. One of two custom built in Switzerland in the 1990s, this started life as a standard 2CV – the French people’s car – and was modified with “Familiale” or wagon-style bodywork and a Citroen Traction Avant front end. The owner uses the car often and loves that the car brings people in. In his own words, “If I had shown a Ferrari you wouldn’t be talking to me right now.”
1962 Volvo P1800
Found rotting away on a farm in North Wales in 1991, this Volvo P1800 is the exact car that Roger Moore drove as Simon Templar in the British television series “The Saint.” After its 1997 rescue, 10 years were spent sourcing parts before a six-year restoration began. Volvo displayed this car at the Atlanta concours alongside models from its current lineup.
If you’ve never seen a Helicron before, we’re not surprised. Just one of these wacky plane/car mash-ups was built in France in 1932. The huge airplane-esque propeller sitting out front is propels the car forward and the rear wheels are used to steer – just like a small plane on an airfield. The car was discovered in a barn in France earlier this century, was restored, and is now on display at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette “Split Window”
As the Corvette faithful will tell you, the “split window” Corvette coupe built only in the first year of C2 coupe production is one of the most sought after ‘Vettes out there. This particular version has a four-speed manual and a fuel-injected 327 V-8, making it even more desirable to many “in the know.” It is part of a collection of Chevrolets owned by 79-year-old Jim Collier, a Georgia resident that began acquiring cars in the 1970s. The Corvette is one of three “mid-year” Corvettes in his collection, which includes several rare pre-war Chevys as well. This was one of five Collier-owned cars on display at the show.
Find more info about the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance at atlantaconcours.org.
Photos by Rachel Schuler: MTS Drive