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10/05/03 THE MELTING POT

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 Sun, Oct 5, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE MELTING POT

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Sitting in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego lays Newport Beach. More significantly, Newport sits nicely between Japan and Europe. Although not as significant, but noteworthy, are the distance and culture differences of Detroit and Hawaii, divided in near equal portions here in Orange County.

The obvious telltale signs are visible in the cars covering the grounds of the Newport Coast Concours d'Elegance as well as the parking areas for attendees. No stone or make is left unturned in the quest for the best. This isn't Pebble Beach. Yet, most of the various brands are represented at this affair. A fairly well distributed amount of cars keep this affair from turning into a domination of just one or two automotive companies. All right, I did notice an over-abundance of Italian sports cars starting with the letter F, however that's a good thing!

The hazy skies didn't diminish the fun on Sunday. Located in Irvine, the temperature could have been a problem, but the day stayed mild enough for all to enjoy. The venue at Hidden Valley still has a bit to be desired. A lush green country club it isn't. The dry plains of Africa seem more akin to this area that still bares the name Lion Country Safari from days gone bye.

Not lost on this attendee was the gathering of many automotive design studio bosses and personnel. What better place to find these people than in the their own backyard as virtually all the studios have their feet firmly planted in Southern California's fertile design grounds.

Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish (Bauer Aston Martin) The focus, I admit, is still the automobiles at this event. The diversity of what can be achieved in metal can be seen and cross-referenced with other auto manufactures and from numerous time periods including several vehicles from 2004 were on display. It was hard not to notice the likes of the new Rolls Royce, the Bentley Continental GT, or the flowing, swept lines of the Aston Martin Vanquish and DB7s on hand .

1938 Delahaye Type 135M Roadster (Petersen Automotive Museum) Speaking of flowing lines, one can't help but mention a couple of the French cars that are the epitome of those words. Both the Delahaye and Peugeot look so soft that their forms must have originated from soap sculptures that were submerged under the faucet for a minute or so.

1938 Peugeot Darl-Mat Roadster (Chuck Schwimmer) So frequently have amazing Mercedes vehicles dutifully represent Germany that we have nearly become jaded to it, if that is even possible. The SL 300 Gull Wings and assorted other four-wheeled eye candy are significant and rare. This LA Car staffer actually saw a Gull Wing cruising down a busy street of Costa Mesa just a day prior. That was very much out of place amongst the general population. At this concours, they are right at home.

1960 Jaguar XK 150 Drophead Coupe (James Leonard) As expected, the Brits had several nameplates to chose from. Of the many cars at the field, the one that always catches my eye is the Jaguar XK 150. This, to me, shows one of the high water marks in design refinement of the competitive sports car line.

1948 Chrysler Town and Country Convertible (Richard Wesselink) Let us not forget some good old American iron. Some beauties from the 'forties in both cars and trucks show the lineage of today's vehicles go way, way, way back. The model names such as Town and Country didn't just arrive from some Madison Avenue agency at the dawn of the mini-van generation.

1940 Chevy Pick-up (Jerry and Martha Montgomery) The special display of vintage American pick-up trucks emphasizes the boldness of design that these vehicles contained many years before most collectors even paused long enough to notice.

Like any good melting pot, this event had an added touch that spiced it up just a bit more than normal. Situated strategically and impossible to miss on the walkway to the main grounds sat the aeronautical equivalent of a balsa wood airplane. Gravity series, a quasi-charitable organization had a few of their racers on display including one from Porsche Design Services of Huntington Beach and Mazda's design studio. The dubbed Soapboard Racer is three wheels and 80 pounds of gravity-propelled fun and efficiency. Now if they could just strap a turbo V6 to that!

Award trophies (Tiffany & Co.) The Newport Coast Concours d'Elegance is a charity event held by ATSC to benefit children. This, in turn, benefits not just them but all those who enjoy all things automotive. Especially those attendees who can't globetrot to the far corners of the world. Fortunately, the rest of the world comes to California.

For more info on ATSC please go to www.newportcoastconcours.com More on Bauer Aston Martin at www.bauerastonmartin.com

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