Concours d’Elegance: The rarest of the rare on display
Updated 9:43 am, Thursday, May 19, 2016
Not every little girl plays exclusively with dolls. Some, like Mary Wennerstrom, enjoy toy cars. Wennerstrom had Corgi Junior small-scale die-cast toy vehicles as a child. Her favorite was a model of a 1913 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
Wennerstrom looks forward to seeing the real thing this summer at the 20th annual Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, for which she serves as the chairman. She took the lead role this year following the death last September of her father-in-law, Bruce Wennerstrom. The high-end car show is a long-time family affair. Her late mother-in-law, Genia Wennerstrom, was the co-founder and co-chair until her death in 2011.
Concours d'Elegance attracts some of the top car collectors and some of the rarest cars in the country, many of them one-of-a-kind or only one of four in existence. "The only place you're going to see cars like these are in a museum or at a Concours d'Elegance event," Mary Wennerstrom said. Among them is the Silver Ghost. The cream-colored Rolls with a red interior is "a piece of art. It's magical. It's such a great car."
The event, scheduled for June 3-5 Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, will feature 275 vehicles, including cars and motorcycles. Among the classic cars is a 1961 Austin-Healey 3000, a 1951 Cisitalia 202C Cabriolet, a 1954 Jaguar XK120M, and a 1935 Packard Model 1201 Convertible. These are among some contemporary super cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
It begins with the Grand Tour parade down Greenwich Avenue on Friday at 4 p.m. with Wayne Carini, host of Velocity's hit show "Chasing Classic Cars" as the Grand Marshal. Carini will film an upcoming episode at the event, and he will display three cars. Saturday's event will feature American cars and Sunday will showcase international vehicles.
"We're bringing back the best of the best. For both days we will bring back the top winners from the first 20 years ... We have cars going back to the 1900s," Wennerstrom said.
One person will bring a display of vintage bicycles and there will be a display of street versions of racecars. "They are very rare," she said.
While most of the cars are 'hands off,' people will have the ability to test drive some cars including Teslas, BMWs, Volvos and Cadillacs. They can purchase vehicles too during the auction of historic and outstanding cars, motorcycles, and automobilia – and the occasional boat – conducted by Bonhams, the renowned British auction company.
Luxury yachts are also part of the event, on display at the Delamar Hotel docks. Those who make a certain donation can sail on one of three former Americas Cup yachts. The public can also get into the act by voting on their favorite vehicle. The car that gets the most votes will receive the People's Choice award. A Youth Judges award will also go to the car chosen by kids including 14-year-old Christopher DeMari, who will judge for his eighth time.
The late well-known Greenwich car dealer, Malcolm Pray, will be represented by his daughter Lily as one of the judges; and granddaughter Portia is showing a Mercedes in the show.
This year DuPont Registry will host a party on Saturday at the Delamar Hotel.
The event draws about 10,000 spectators. "Even people who are not car people enjoy it. You see things from when you grew up or a car your parents had or a car that reminds you of a memory," Wennerstrom said.
Stamford-based AmeriCares has been the charitable beneficiary of the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance since the beginning and that support will continue this year, she said. AmeriCares is an emergency response and global health organization.
For tickets and information visit www.greenwichconcours.com.