Here’s Proof Classic Cars Are a Wonderful and Diverse Thing
Our favorites from this year’s Greenwich concours range from a rad Nissan to an elegant Delahaye.
As we noted in our showcase of American cars from the 2019 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, the event occurs over the course of two days, with cars from the U.S. highlighted on Saturday and vehicle from the rest of the world given Sunday to shine. It's the only major Concours show with such a setup that we're aware of, despite it being a smaller event overall than the concours held at Pebble Beach or Amelia Island.
In addition to this split, the Greenwich concours also chooses a specific annual theme; this year's emphasis was on European automobiles, with a particular focus on the cars from renowned Italian design firm Zagato, for which 2019 marks its centennial. (Zagato was also a focus of the 2019 Kyoto concours in Japan.) In addition to honoring the cars of Zagato, the show also honored Bentley and that firm's own centennial, as well as the cars of Arnolt. Read on for our favorite foreign-made automobiles from the show and be sure to view our gallery to see the rest of the field.
1957 Jaguar XK140 Zagato
This beautiful Jaguar XK140 is a very special one-off with an incredible story. This car started life as a regular 1957 XK140 owned by Italian businessman Guido Modiano, but after sustaining significant damage in an accident, Modiano decided against returning it to factory spec. Instead, he got in touch with his close friend Elio Zagato and asked to have his eponymous design firm rebody the car. Zagato himself was so impressed by the finished product that he displayed the car at the 1957 Paris auto show with hopes of convincing Jaguar to commission a limited production run. Sadly, that never happened and this XK140 Zagato remains the only one of its kind.
The car was purchased by Jeff and Bill Pope of Scottsdale, Arizona, a few years ago and shows fewer than 70,000 miles on the clock. Because of its incredibly rare status, it doesn't see the road all that often, but Jeff did tell us that the car has completed the Copperstate 1000 Rally and similar events on a few occasions. And it is nonetheless well-traveled, as it's been displayed at other major concours, including Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.
"We were just drawn by the beauty of this car. We're big fans of Zagato and have several in our collection of this caliber and so we just had to have it," Jeff says. "We love how nimble it feels. It's lighter than your traditional XK140 because it's all aluminum. It's very comfortable, civilized, and fast."
1991 Nissan Autech Stelvio Zagato
This bizarre and rad Zagato-bodied Nissan is another one-off and one of the wilder collaborations from the Italian design firm. It's based on a Nissan Leopard, which came to our shores as the Infiniti M30. Autech was a tuning subdivision of Nissan at the time and had entered an agreement with Zagato to produce these rebodied Leopards in extremely limited quantities (104 were ultimately produced) and for a high price, with some reports pegging the cost at Â¥18 million. At today's conversion rates, that's almost $166,000. But style wasn't the only purchase consideration for buyers of the Autech Stelvio Zagato, as each also came packed with nearly every conceivable piece of technology that you could fit into an automobile.
Purchased and imported by brothers Rami and Faris Fetyani, this car spent most of its life in Japan and they believe they're the second owners; this example has only accumulated 41,000 miles. Another unique feature of this car is its purple paint. Faris said most of these were either red with a few blue and silver ones.
"We just like buying cars that are super quirky and unique to the U.S. market," Faris said. "We honestly don't know much about the car, but that's part of what we do. We like to bring oddball cars like these to the States to learn about them and to see what the market is like for them. We just threw a bid on the car at an auction and ended up with it."
1961 Facel Vega Excellence
When one sees a Facel Vega at a showâwhich we'll admit isn't very often, given their rarityâit's typically a two-door coupe or convertible variant. But Facel Vega also produced the four-door Excellence, which was essentially a stretched FV coupe. Built between 1958 and 1964, the Excellence was incredibly expensive. It was the fastest four-door in the world during its heyday, and it also incorporated suicide rear doors. Legend has it that Ford bought a Facel Vega Excellence in order to study and reverse-engineer the suicide doors for inclusion on the iconic Lincoln Continental of the 1960s.
Owned by Fred Kanter of Boonton, New Jersey, this example is only one of three built (of 150) in 1961 with a sunroof. Fred has owned this car since the 1970s, and it currently shows only 29,000 miles. Fred simply maintained the car until three years ago, when he commissioned a full restoration.
"Over the years, starting in '66, I've owned 17 Chrysler-powered Facel Vegas. I was literally buying everything I could get my hands on. This car came up for sale for $350 and I had to have it," Fred says. "I drove it home from Long Island where I purchased it, and it sat until I restored it three years ago. But I've had the car long enough and soon I'll be ready to hand it off to its next owner—ideally someone who has the same passion for it like I do."
1936 Delahaye 135 Competition "Disappearing Top" Convertible
While Delahaye may not have quite the name recognition of many of contemporary marques, you'll often find one (or more) at the premier concours events. The Delahaye 135 chassis was one of the company's most well-known, and it received a variety of different body styles between 1935 and 1954. This specific example is a 1936 135 Competition and is most known for its racing successes in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1937 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. It's one of only 15 ever made, and its type is quite highly valued.
This example was built for a very wealthy Parisian named Wolf, who challenged his close friend, Joseph Figoni, to build a car. Figoni, who is known for his "wind-cheating luxury coachwork" designs that made cars look as if they were in motion while sitting still, took up the challenge and his Figoni et Filaschi firm built this race car for Wolf. It's currently owned by Ken Smith of Rancho Santa Fe, California. Smith is a frequent participant at the Pebble Beach concours, where he and his wife have won multiple awards with their cars. Their collection includes a hefty list of high-dollar classic Rolls-Royce, Packard, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Corvette models. Smith re-restored this Delahaye in 2004 after learning from Claude Figoni, the son of Joseph, that the color was inaccurate. Previously, the car featured a metallic-painted exterior and Figoni said his father never painted any of his cars in metallic colors. So they repainted the car to this flat, dark blue.
"When I saw this car at a concours event, I became weak-kneed," Smith said. "You know you see a lot of cars, and your tastes change over time. I thought it was the most beautiful car I had ever seen and I felt like, if I can, I'd like to own it. So I tracked down the owner and pursued it in exchange for some cars and cash."
1955 Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A
The Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet Aâinternal designation W187âwas one of the first new vehicles from the automaker following World War II, and the first to utilize a new inline-six engine, as other postwar Benzes were restricted to four-cylinder power. At the same time, it was also one of the last Mercedes-Benz models built on a wood frame wrapped with a steel body.
Owned by Bill Charlton and restored over the course of several years by Henry Magno of Magno Restorations in Ward Hill, Massachusetts, the car was acquired in 1973, when Charlton became its third owner. Its restoration was completed just last year.
"I went to high school in Madison, Connecticut, and a lot of folks had these cars," Bill said. "You'd see a lot of them parked on the street. My local Mercedes dealer, who I bought a 230SL from, asked me if I'd be interested in a 220 Cabriolet. So I went to his house one night, wrote him a check, and then drove off with the car."