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10/17/04 REIGN ON

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, Oct 23, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

REIGN ON

By JOHN GRAFMAN

How spoiled are we? I've spent plenty of time in Portland and several years in the islands of Hawaii, so I know what rain is. But even I get the hebee jebees when I see dark clouds approaching. As the rain starts coming down the night before the Irvine Concours in buckets, I'm getting ready to throw in the towel on any hope the show is going to be a success. However, I am ready to give Noah a call and check on the ark.

I'm not alone in feeling this. As it turns out, this Concours is less attended by spectators and participants alike. The 2005 Irvine Concours is a case of quality over quantity. While some might look at this as the glass being half empty, it is really half full to those in the know (perhaps with rainwater).

The new venue is worth the price of admission. While it's required to take a shuttle in from remote parking lots, the location at Strawberry Farms in Irvine has it all over the old location as far as ambiance is concerned. There is no comparison of today's rolling hills and green grass against last year's event that had the look and luster of a dry high school football field in the middle of a sweltering summer. The golf course in Irvine is fairly accessible to those in Orange County costal areas too.

The course is blanketed in a reunion of the automotive design industry on the west coast. Many were judges, while others were just happy to soak up the unique cars on display. The list of honorary judges include such notable design industry names as Benjamin Dimson (Mercedes-Benz), Henrik Fisker (Ford), Kevin Hunter (Toyota), Truman Pollard (Mazda), Gerhard Steinle (BMW), Charles Taylor (Aria), Kevin Verduyn (Chrysler), and Roger Zrimec (Andus), to name a few. Actually there are so many industry insiders that their sheer number is rivaled only by the exceptional level of talent these individuals who grace the grounds posses. And while some of the big names get the limelight, many of the lesser known but extremely accomplished design industry locals fill in the gaps in the green.

So why do so many industry people attend this one event? Well, for those who are familiar with this neck of the woods, Orange County has some of the most amazing cars tucked away in storage and out on the streets. Many find their way out to this Concours, which is organized by ATSC, which has now put on its twenty-second event in spite of venue changes.

Some of the finest cars from Southern California find there way to this event. Sadly, this year had fewer than the anticipated automobiles in attendance. I can't help but think it was some of the finer machines that failed to show, you know the kind of which that never get washed, as they're never driven. They only get a periodic rub down with a diaper. Going out in the wet would be tantamount to taking sandpaper to the paint. While this might seem strange and rather out there, you have to meet some of the owners and you'll see what I mean. If it makes them happy, great. Sadly, we didn't see as many classics as we would have on a pristine day.

Nonetheless, by no stretch of the imagination is this less than entertaining. From the late fifties Cadillacs high on top of the hill, to the Austin Healey convertibles gather at the base, and all the cars in between is each in their own right deserving of a pedestal if not a medal. Although a few definitely needed a restoration, most attending are decent enough examples to make us long for some wheel time. Today's pack wasn't anywhere close to what one would expect at say Pebble Beach, but many have a familiar personality rather than an unobtainable luster to them. If one were to personify the cars, the Irvine Concours has that high school cheerleader/prom queen-quality, whereas Pebble Beach has the Hollywood screen star remoteness about it.

Irvine is no slouch though, with a large showing of the featured mark Rolls Royce and many other classics from Mercedes, Packards, Aston Martins, Ferraris, sports racing cars, and other assorted names, making this event a great way to spend the afternoon even if we do get a sprinkle or two.

Spending lunch, sharing a table with just some random people, it was starting to sink into my head that much more. It is the quality of those at the concours rather than how many crammed the grounds that make this event great. Not only was everyone there fun to talk with, they all have a deep lifelong relationship with the automobile. At the table were a father and his young son. The son had to be no more than half way old enough to attain his license if that, yet he already has many a car event under his belt and he seems to be lovin' it. This kind of an affair transcends age, sex, or race. Not many cultural events do that.

The sponsors to this event have helped keep this train on track. The likes of Meguiar's, Bauer Aston Martin, and others have been ongoing contributors to the Orange County annual affair. The Patrons and numerous volunteers make this concours a must do event every year. We will be here same time in 2005, rain or shine!

For more on this please go to www.atscconcours.com For more info on ATSC please go to www.atsc4kids.org

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