2008 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

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The sights confirmed that it was was Car Guy Heaven, even if the weather was more reminiscent of Hell on Earth. That, in a nutshell, sums up the 2008 edition of the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, a 2-day automotive carnival that never ceased to amaze, no matter how many times we walked around the grounds. Each pass seemed to reveal something new -- something we somehow missed just a few minutes earlier. As always, Day 1 was dedicated to American cars and Day 2 paid tribute to the Europeans. Oh, and temps were in the mid-90s and very humid both days. That didn't make it less awesome, though. Just more...sticky.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.

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What's fun about the Concours is the staggering variety of cars on hand. Finned classic Cadillacs shared the grass with a very clean Allanté, whose Pininfarina lines have actually aged quite nicely, thank you very much. The circle of Lincolns and Mercurys featured Tony Kotula's gorgeous blue '70 Cougar XR7 (above), a reminder of a time when Mercury wasn't merely a branding afterthought known more for its Jill Wagner commercials than the cars they advertise. Tony graciously spent a few minutes going over his pride and joy, which he is constantly working on when he's not at his day job. From taping off the vertical slats in the grillework so he could properly spray the inner portions matte black, to endless searches for perfect used and NOS replacement parts, every painstaking hour spent on the overall effort is visible. One of the latest additions, the blue steering wheel with its perfect (and hard-to-find in that condition) Cougar badge, was just one of many examples. You'd have never guessed that it was actually brown when he got it not long ago. You could eat off of the 351 it packed underhood, and it's been built to be driven -- the clutch is modern, Wilwood brakes lurk behind the pristine wheels, the underbody is coated with Rhino Liner for protection, and it's got working A/C.

At the end of the day, every car on hand is announced as it drives past the audience and off the grounds. One of the great moments came as John Fitch's Phoenix prototype was announced with the 91-year-old former WWII fighter pilot, Mercedes factory race driver, safety innovator, and all-around living legend behind the wheel. Actor and serious car buff, Edward Hermann, was at the mic as Fitch rolled through. Fitch's wartime exploits included his shooting down a Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter while flying a P-51 Mustang, as well as later being shot down himself and spending the last two months of the war as a POW. "He fought them [the Germans] in World War II," Hermann said of Fitch, "then he went back and drove for them and showed them how to do it."

Fitch circled his car back around and re-parked it on the grass. He and it would be on hand for Day 2, as well. And what a day that was. As remarkable as Day 1 was, Day 2 could only be described as mind-blowing. There were more cars and more people, as the 2-day automotive history lesson turned its attention to Europe. Maranello had its own ring up front. Other Italians congregated in a separate circle -- a Lamborghini 350GT, a De Tomaso Mangusta, and an Alfa TZ were among the many highlights. The Corvette Rondine's mixed heritage earned it a spot among them, too. Modern supercars were well-represented, but the Ferrari F40 that shared a space with the likes of a 550 Barchetta, Lamborghini Diablo Jota and a 25th Anniversary Countach served as a reminder that the term is used a bit too liberally nowadays. The all-business F40 made the Veyron parked at a dealer display across the property look pedestrian by comparison.

Malcolm Pray's 1937 Delahaye 135 M was there, its blue-and-white Figoni et Falaschi coachwork a portrait of timeless beauty. Down near the water where the Porsches were assembled, a yellow 1958 Beutler Porsche was drawing plenty of curious looks from folks who'd never seen one of the Swiss-bodied coupes before -- yours truly included. Everywhere you looked, there was something you wanted to know more about, and no matter how many hours you spend at the Concours, you always wish you had more time. Then, before you know it, it's over, and you're looking forward to next year. Events like this never get old. They, like the cars they showcase, seem to only get better.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.

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