Print This Post Email This Post
Story and pictures by Reed Berry
I’m spending another Sunday at the mansion. No, I don’t live in a mansion, I’m just visiting for one of the most prestigious and eagerly anticipated automotive events of the year, the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance. This is the sixth annual Concours to be held at Greystone, and it remains one of my favorite auto show venues. Combine fabulous automobiles with a historic mansion, lushly landscaped grounds, good food and adult beverages and you have a springtime event that is certain to please just about anyone.
After a brief shuttle ride from Beverly Hills City Hall, we have arrived at the mansion’s upper level parking lot where rows and rows of classic cars, motorcycles and other unique vehicles have been neatly arranged for visitors to see and enjoy. They are approximately 135 world-class vehicles organized by category: Ferrari, Postwar European, Classics, Porsche, Porsche 356, GM Muscle, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Postwar British, Postwar U.S., Packard, Touring, Rolls-Royce / Bentley, Sports Racing and Alfa Romeo.
Honestly, I would be proud to park any of these cars in my driveway but, as you can imagine, I do have some personal favorites. A real attention-getter is a unique – and very rare – 1949 Fiat 750MM Topolino Zagato owned by Arizona-based custom jewelry designer Scott Gauthier. Eight of these vehicles were produced and only two are known to exist. It has a 600cc 17-horsepower engine, aerodynamic styling and wrap-around panoramic windows. It definitely has eye appeal and I can only imagine how much fun it must be to drive.
A 1951 Delahaye Type 235 Cabriolet is certainly sleek and impressive. It had a very stylish, futuristic look for its time and still looks great today. With a 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine, the 235 has plenty of power and one would think that great looking car like this must have been a big seller in its day. Unfortunately, such was not the case. Due to sluggish sales, Delahaye, founded in 1894, ceased automobile production in 1954.
Other vehicles on my short list of “must haves” (after I win the lottery, of course) include a beautifully restored 1947 Ford Sportsman that looks just as good today as it did when it rolled out of the showroom nearly 70 years ago, a striking baby blue 1955 Buick Century which, along with Disneyland and my brother, turns 60 this year, and a handsome 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II owned by television producer Vin di Bona (America’s Funniest Videos; MacGyver; Upload with Shaquille O’Neal.) Those are among my favorites but for anyone who prefers the sportier classic Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars, there are plenty here to feast your eyes upon.
While the owners of these magnificent vehicles enjoying showing them off to the public, I’m sure they are also eager to see if they will win an award at today’s Concours. There are individual class awards provided by Christofle, manufacturer of fine silver flatware and home accessories based in France. Lee Iacocca, legendary automobile executive now 90 years of age, is on-hand to present the final Lee Iacocca Award to Vinnie Mandzak, lifelong automotive enthusiast, car specialist and one of the original founders of the Greystone Mansion Concours. Mr. Iacocca has decided, after 10 years, to retire the award, making it an even more prestigious limited edition.
As I make my way to the lower level near the entrance to the mansion, I notice some newer vehicles on display including an array of shiny new Infiniti vehicles. As I look at these new Infinitis, or any newer vehicle for that matter, I can’t help but wonder which cars people will be admiring as classics at car shows 50…60…70 years from now. Just as in decades past, some of the cars we consider mere transportation will someday be looked upon as automotive works of art. Had I taken the time to think about this at a younger age, my first car – a sporty white 1966 Buick Riviera – would still be in my possession and may have been on display at today’s Concours.
The Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance is sponsored by the City of Beverly Hills and supports The Friends of Greystone, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the continuing restoration and preservation of this impressive must-see property. Greystone Mansion hosts a variety of activities and cultural events each year, and has served as a filming location for dozens of popular movies such as Ghostbusters, The Big Lebowski and The Social Network, just to name a few.
For further information, go to beverlyhills.org/greystoneconcours