Concours d'Elegance is a French term that means competition of elegance. Applying the phrase to a display of fancy modes of transportation goes back to the sixteen-hundreds, when French aristocrats would cruise their horse-drawn carriages through the parks of Paris.
Fast forward to today and the phrase Concours d'Elegance is synonymous with the finest car shows in the world. Famous versions of this high-end gathering include annual events held in Pebble Beach, CA; Meadow Brook, MI; Winter Park, FL; and Boca Raton, FL to name a few.
Beyond a casual local car club show or gathering of hotrods, the Concours d'Elegance automobiles are judged to the finest detail by celebrated judges and restoration experts. In short, at a Concours d'Elegance automobile show, every car is a champion.
What Makes This Type Of Car Show Different?
After attending several Concours d'Elegance events I believe I have the answer to the question: What Makes This Type Of Car Show Different? As I mentioned, at a Concours d'Elegance every car is a champion in some regard. You don't see cars that, "still need a little work," or that would be perfect, "except for that tiny bubble of rust beneath the rear fender." In much the same way that the most prestigious dog shows in the country feature the champions from all the other dog shows leading up to it, a Concours d'Elegance car show only features the best of the best in each category.
Therefore, what is ultimately judged is which car, out of each category, is the best champion. It is this high level of superior automotive examples that make a Concours d'Elegance auto show different from a run-of-the-mill car show. A car show shows cars. Nice cars, yes. Outstanding cars, often. But when you go to a Concours d'Elegance event, you can be assured that each automobile will blow your mind.
Vintage Ferraris lined up
The Winter Park, FL Concours d'Elegance
I recently attended the 2014 Winter Park, FL Concours d'Elegance. The entry fee was $20 if tickets were purchased in advance, and $25 at the gate. An estimated eighty-thousand guests attended the show and the quantity and quality of automobiles on display did not disappoint.
I looked at every single vehicle and many were such pristine versions, I felt as if I were in a car lover's dream. The Winter Park iteration of this legendary car show was held on the fairways of the Winter Park Country Club, which is located at the end of Park Avenue.
Just walking down Park Avenue can be a car show in itself. This fancy-schmancy part of Orlando is home to Rollins College, many fine restaurants, boutique hotels, and high-end retail shops. The street side parking spots are filled with Ferraris, Jaguars, Porsches, and the occasional perfectly restored vintage VW Bus.
A visit to Winter Park, FL at any time would be fun; a visit during this cool event was a special treat for the senses.
Porsche 911 Carerra on Park Ave, on the way to the The Winter Park, FL Concours d'Elegance
1939 Mercedes. Check out the blue glass visors!
The Ultimate Car
What is the ultimate car? This is a question that could be (and probably will be) debated for centuries. From the perennial Ford Vs Chevy arguments that span generations, to the Ferrari Vs Lamborghini camps that become divisions of national pride, there will always be opinions about which car is the finest.
Personally I am partial to the Ford Mustang. Perhaps because that was my first car (a 1987 Mustang Convertible). Whatever the reason I just love a perfect Mustang. (Yes, I am one of those people who rewinds the scene in the movie Gone In Sixty Seconds when Memphis Raines first sees Eleanor.) One fantastic automobile at the Winter Park show was a 1970 Mustang Mach1 Fastback that looked better than brand new. While every car at this show was a standout, the 1970 Mustang Mach1 Fastback would be very near my top choice as that show's ultimate car.
Oh, but then again, there was a blue 1967 Mustang GT500 that looked amazing. And the Lamborghini Aventador. Or maybe the McClaren. Well here are the rest of the pics. You be the judge.
A gleaming 1970 Mustang Mach1 Fastback
blue 1967 Mustang GT500 (Eleanor?)
2015 Lamborghini Huracan
2015 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
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2015 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Interior
So to summarize and answer our original question: is the Concours d'Elegance the ultimate car show? Well perhaps. The fact is that any car show bearing the Concours name is likely to feature the finest of the finest in automotive excellence. In my experience, having attended a few of these shows, most recently the event in Winter Park, Florida, they are nothing short of spectacular.
Everyone has different tastes. Some people love old gangster cars from the 1930s, some love Italian exotics like the Ferraris or Lamborghinis, and some like good old-fashioned American Muscle, like the mustangs, or the Oldsmobile 442. But if you want to see the finest examples of cars from each and every category, then a Concours d'Elegance fine auto show would definitely foot the bill.
Every event and each venue will be different of course, and therefore, each car show will always be unique. But if it is high-quality, classic, modern, and one-of-a-kind automobiles you are looking for, then a Concours d'Elegance car show will certainly satisfy.
Winter Park, FL