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04/06 DESERT PURSUIT

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jul 12, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

DESERT PURSUIT

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Every car enthusiast dreams of finding that lost classic stored in a country barn with the owner who is only too willing to part with it for pennies. The elusive needle in the haystack.

LA Car in our travels has managed to unearth a diamond in the desert. Palm Springs to be exact. Our expedition was to shed light on the little known nor understood Palms Springs Concours. We employed the Sirius BMW X5 for our sojourn. With a capable transport and unfailing satellite reception to our destination, we were set to find out if our chosen event was a jewel or just an illusion of the midday sun. As expected, Sirius was unfaltering in delivering too many selections to name. The numerous news stations that covered the information spectrum far better than those available on the FM band again turned out to be my co-pilots favorite. Unfortunately our BMW was making some noise of its own. Seems that after tens of thousands of punishing journalists' miles, the X5 was developing an interior squeak around the windshield area that was nearly unbearable. Nevertheless, the BMW is a near perfect choice for exploration with plenty of interior room, good down the road visibility, road manners and comfort. I would rather go with a 4 liter over the 3, as our vehicle was equipped with. The 3 are just on the shy side of adequate power for such a sizable SUV.

A quick couple of hours and we found ourselves at the O'Donnell Golf Club at the base of the San Jacinto Mountain range, in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. Shrouded by a wall of hedges, what lay just on the other side was a complete enigma. We had no idea if this would be an oasis of classic cars or barren as a dried up well. Our travels proved to be worth the time and trouble. The location for the Concours was notable picturesque. The weather was also mild enough still where seeking the comfort of an air-conditioned facility wasn't a necessity. The rugged mountain backdrop gave a sense of timelessness that was the perfect match with classic automotive works of art.

The grounds could hold far more vehicles yet what the fields bore were some fantastic autos. The requisite Jags and Ferraris were seemingly as plentiful as dates in the surrounding palm trees. The Gullwing Mercedes and SL 300s were as always a treat. But tucked in amongst these trailer queens were the conquest of our travels. Stationed as nonchalantly as an automotive icon can were the pinnacles of the classics. The '39 Maybach short wheelbase 38, owned by Dorothy & Harold Meyerman, in red with long swept fenders and gleaming metal trim was the finest example of what German craftsmanship could create prior to the decimation ravaged by the Second World War. Words can't do justice to convey what an impression this rolling statement of style and wealth makes. It was no surprise that it took the Best Presentation honors.

The bounties of the desert were not just limited to the Maybach example. Ghia had an outstanding work present, thanks to the Petersen Museum, with this one off car built in Italy for one of Hollywood's Darlings. Although this 1953 Cadillac Ghia Coupe originally owned by Rita Hayworth is a machine that is clearly not of this century, it could easily be influential on many modern shapes such as the Chrysler Crossfire. The execution of the restoration was also beyond compare. The interior looked as if the Coach Leather experts had personally created this interior. The "Reserve Best of Show" went to this car, I imagine, with little hesitation. The Ghia sat shaded by a large tree, yet it seemed to radiate an attractive influence that was similar to the desert itself.

Although most of the cars on display were lined up and organized similar to show girls in a chorus line, a presentation more random, broader spaced and organic in placement, such as seen at Palos Verdes Concours, would be in my opinion the better option in the future. As our time in the desert drew to a close, we flashed back to what we encountered while spying the heat waves rising from the desert floor that stretched out before us. LA Car came away realizing that those who seek the glory of lost treasure found and romance of years gone by need only to venture to the Palm Springs Concours, the true jewel of the desert.

More on the Concours at www.palmspringscarclassic.com Details on Sirius Radio at www.sirius.com

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