The quest to the best and most elegant of the show
Organisers of the Concours South Africa at Steyn City are expecting keen competition among the owners of the classic vehicles on show
To car collectors it is akin to Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. It is rare and hard to come by and the competition for it can often be fierce. It is an invitation to show an automobile at a Concours d’Elegance.
Going to a Concours d’Elegance is a great way to see rare and pristine vehicles from an earlier era of motoring, but for the average enthusiast, it’s hard to fathom what it takes for a car to just to show up to a concours — not to mention driving off with the best in show award.
When talking about a classic car it is not always clear what is meant. Usually the word "classic" refers to interesting vehicles which are no longer being built.
An "older automobile" is the definition for a "classic"; various meanings, however, do transpire from different parts of the world. The common connotation is "an older car with historical interest worth preserving". Vehicles 20 years and older pertain to a classic, or vintage class which are vehicles produced between 1915 and 1998.
The owning of such a car is usually amplified when participating in a Concours d’Elegance, an occasion on which prestigious vehicles are displayed and judged, usually held at automobile shows.
The first one took place in 1929 and the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa D’Este is still held annually on Lake Como in Italy. The first concours in the US was held in 1950 in Monterey, California, and the longest continually running event is the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance in California.
In SA the first concours was held in 2016 at Sun City and attracted entries from outside the country. The owner of the winning vehicle, a 1985 De Tomaso Pantera GT5, was from Gaborone in Botswana.
The 2018 Concours SA event will be hosted at the Steyn City Parkland Residence from August 10 to 12.
"We are delighted to be associated with 2018 Concours SA," says Giuseppe Plumari, CEO of Steyn City Properties.
"This, after all, is an event dedicated to quality and legacy; things that are built to last. This is an ethos we at Steyn City uphold, too. Much like the classic and vintage cars that will be on display, we too will be showcasing the very best our creative team of architects, designers, artists, landscapers and engineers have developed to create the ultimate lifestyle."
Judging of cars entering a concours is demanding. High levels of competitiveness require a car to be in pristine condition with emphasis placed on originality and authenticity of presentation. What is of great importance is the story, passion and involvement of the collectors.
For those considering taking part, Paul Kennard, the organiser of Concours SA, suggests taking a few months to prepare the car. This will offer ample time to clean, repair and upgrade parts at a suitable working rate.
"Preparation can take up to a year before the competition," says Kennard. "This obviously depends on the general condition of the car. It is, after all, called a Concours d’Elegance, so entries must have style, class and elegance."
The purpose of the concours is to present the car in a condition as close as possible to the condition it was in when it left the factory. Older classic cars did not come with rubber mats and would be marked down in the competition if they were included; only genuine leather or fabric was used. Fake leather was introduced later as a cheaper alternative.
Older cars did not possess technology like electric seats, seat warmers or massagers which makes the seats easier to remove and clean.
The engine and engine compartment are, by far, the most difficult to clean and prepare. The correct period fittings, hoses, electrical connectors, fuses and clips need to be incorporated; judges will be very particular about their inclusion.
Since the inception of the concours in SA in 2016 the standard of presentation has risen considerably, say organisers.
"It has been exciting to watch the growth of interest in collector cars over the past two years," says Kennard. "Car enthusiasts founded this type of event to share and celebrate great cars, and it’s wonderful to know that we have played a role in encouraging others to celebrate great cars too here on the African continent.
"In reality a concours is an exhibition of priceless art. Automotive sculptures that stand as a lasting testament to the brilliance of pioneering engineers, innovative designers and skilled coachbuilders.
"The day of the show is, without any doubt, all about the competition, where many months and hours and hours spent working on a vehicle need to be rewarded. We also encourage a polished personal appearance, paired with the perfect hat, and it is also about bringing sunscreen, sunglasses, being poised for discussions with other competitors, comparing notes and conversing in that particular dialect called ‘classic’."