Keeneland Concours d’Elegance Showcases Horsepower of a Different Breed

If you’re a gearhead like me, going to a car show is one of the best ways to spend a weekend afternoon admiring what I call “artwork on wheels.”

Car shows come in all shapes and sizes, from the local club show-n-shine in the parking lot of the big box store, to a hot rod show in the convention center. One of my favorites is a special kind of show known as a Concours d’Elegance.

What makes a Concours d’Elegance different is that the cars are judged on originality and completeness. Cars may be original or restored, and many are restored to a level far better than when they left the factory. All parts should be original to the year the car was manufactured.

A Concours is a curated event, which means the entries are considered and approved by a committee prior to the exhibition. The cars may be invited, or owners may submit them for consideration.

The Concours d’Elegance tradition dates back to 17th-century Paris. Back then, French aristocrats paraded the latest Parisian fashions for the ladies, and organizers displayed horse-drawn carriages to attract gentlemen to the events.

Today’s Concours d’Elegance typically focuses on classic cars and motorcycles. One of the earliest modern events was the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which started in 1950. You may have seen winners of some Concours – often the Best of Show winner at Pebble Beach makes the national news.

The Keeneland Concours d’Elegance, one of the top events in the country, takes place the third weekend in July in Lexington, Kentucky at the historic Keeneland horse racing track. The 2018 event was the 14th year for the Concours, and it’s grown bigger and better every year. This year’s featured marque was BMW, and there were classes featuring BMW cars and motorcycles, as well as vehicles from the earliest days of the automobile through electric cars.

This isn’t one of those snooty, white glove, nose-in-the-air kind of deals. At Keeneland, there’s room for everything from a slammed Scion XB, to a 1919 electric-powered delivery van, to a classic Ferrari Daytona, as well as loads of muscle cars and familiar classics. There was even a class of vintage carriages to celebrate the original type of horsepower. You could scratch just about any automotive itch at this year’s event.

The 2018 Best of Show award went to a 1958 BMW 507 Series II roadster owned by The Patterson Collection of Louisville, Kentucky. The car previously won first place in the BMW Centennial Postwar class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2016.

The 507 got its start as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL known for its gullwing doors. BMW built only about 251 examples of this stunning roadster. The car has had only three owners in its life, and the original owner raced it enthusiastically in sports car events across the country. They were so cool, even Elvis Presley owned one. This car sold at auction in 2014 for $2.42 million

The class winners of the 2018 Keeneland Concours d’Elegance. Photo by Bill Griffin, courtesy Keeneland Concours d’Elegance.

The 1958 BMW 507 Series II roadster was named Best of Show and also won its class of BMW Sports Classics. Photo Via Keeneland Concours.

This 1961 Studebaker Lark Convertible Regal VIII won the top spot in the Collector American 1947-1975 class. Photo via Concours News

The 1932 Packard 904 Dietrich Convertible Victoria is longer than a Chevy Suburban and cost over $6,500 when new. Photo via Concours News

This 1959 Ford Model 51A Skyliner was part of the Ford retractable class that featured seven of these mechanically-complex beauties, which were the first American hardtop retractable convertibles. Photo via Concours News

2012 Scion XB The owner has fully customized this Scion, and it took top honors in the Loud & Furious class. Photo by Travis Rake

This 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB was one of 17 coupes produced and has undergone a highly detailed professional restoration. Attendees at the Concours liked it so much they voted for it as the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Photo by Keeneland Concours

The same family owned this 1971 Ford Mustang for 46 years before it was sold. This car won the American Performance 1955-1975 class. Photo by Keeneland Concours

For 2019 the featured marque will be Aston Martin. To find a Concours near you, check out the comprehensive list at Concours Dates.



Keeneland Concours d’Elegance –

Concours News –

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