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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 Tue, Oct 20, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LIVING THE DREAM Words and Pictures by John Grafman

It's funny when the very worst thing you can say about an event is the lack of unappreciative crowds. How can one be a car aficionado (or car snob if you must) if there isn't anyone to there to listen to your pearls of knowledge?

The Concours in search of a home couldn't find a better venue than this one at the St. Regis in Dana Point. With the backdrop of the grand hotel and grounds with the Pacific Ocean and hills of Orange County in the background, this is as picturesque as the best Concours anywhere. The field of cars is simply amazing. Maybe this surprised us the least as the area of Southern California is home to some to the best of the best. There is a bit of trepidation in the morning, as dark skies seem ripe for rain. But, the gods of cars were on our side. By mid-morning everyone is enjoying the sunshine and mild temps.

While the day is mild, the cars are simmering hot. The featured marque is Mercedes-Benz. The brand is a favorite in this part of the nation with two of the top selling dealerships residing in the OC borders. Strewn on the lush grounds of the St. Regis are classes that break the multitude of cars into manageable bite size groups. The Mercedes class provides diversity and all finished off to unbelievably high standards. Maybe it's no surprise that the Mercedes Benz Classic Center coincidently also resides just a short hop away from this venue. Until just recently Mercedes had a design outpost in neighboring Irvine (now residing in the former design studio of Chrysler in Carlsbad).

With 14 classes this allows for a variety of honors. Any of these winners could wow even the most jaded of car lovers. The range allows for prizes going to the1948 Chrysler Town & Country Shawn Williams of Los Angeles from Class 13 to the 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe of Ken & Dayle Roath from Newport Beach in Class 12. The judges of the event are no strangers to the automotive world. In fact, this esteemed group is the best of the best when it comes to having an eye for perfection. Most are current or former high-level automotive design professionals.

CHIEF JUDGE Pieter Dwinger - Several of the cars that he has owned became National and Concours class winners. Dwinger does the majority of the restoration work himself, and those victories, along with his years of judging experience, have given him the knowledge to fulfill the demanding duties of chief judge of the Concours d'Elegance. Dwinger has enjoyed more than 20 years judging at national and Concours level events and has judged internationally in Australia and Scandinavia. He has been chief class judge at many venues and has functioned at the Senior and Master Judge levels. Dwinger has judged the Concours d'Elegance in excess of 10 years before being asked to assume his role as chief judge. During those years, he has been on the Concours d' Elegance Board of Directors, the Steering Committee and Executive Board. He also has been instrumental in designing and laying out the Concours d' Elegance exhibitor show cars fields at multiple venues.

HONORARY JUDGES Jill Amadio - is an international award-winning automotive journalist and has covered the auto industry for 20 years in the United States and abroad, John Campbell - serves as the U.S. congressman for California's 48th District, encompassing much of Orange County. His automotive interest and expertise is reflected in his diverse collection of significant cars from the '50s, ' 60s and ' 70s.

Marek Djordjevic - former chief exterior designer at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and creative director at BMW DesignworksUSA , currently his design firm, he offers strategic design and premium brand development for land, air and sea modes of transportation. Ken Eberts - is a founding member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society, exhibiting on the field today, and has been president of that prestigious organization since its inception in 1983. Ronald C. Hill - formerly the chief designer at Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick, and in 1985, he began a second career, joining the faculty of Art Center where, until his retirement, he was chairman of transportation design.

Chuck Jordan - began his career at GM Styling as in 1949 and forty-three years later, in 1992, he retired as vice president of General Motors in charge of design. Barry Meguiar - is the third generation owner of Meguiar's Inc., founded in 1901. Joel Piaskowski - in January 2009, Joel was hired by Mercedes-Benz to lead its Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, CA

Richard Plavetich - is a technical design manager for Nissan Design America. Frank Saucedo - in 1992, he joined General Motors' Advanced Concepts Center in California, and after a stint at VW he rejoined GM as the first director of their West Coast design headquarters in North Hollywood.

Gerhard Steinle - joined BMW Group DesignworksUSA in November 2004 and is currently senior director of operations. Bruce Meyer - is founding chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum, a board member of the Nethercutt Collection and the LeMay Museum, and he serves on the steering committee of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. William A. Motta - served as Road & Track magazine art director until his retirement, art editor. His distinctive automotive paintings continue to grace public galleries and private collections.

Jeff Teague - founded his own design firm, Teague Designs, Inc., and he launched the automotive design program at Academy Art University in San Francisco, and continues to serve on the board of directors. Freeman Thomas - is now strategic design director for Ford Motor Company, he is responsible for long-term design strategy in North America. Franz Von Holzhausen - joined Tesla Motors as chief designer in 2008.

Roger Zrimec - worked for 11 years for Mitsubishi Motors of America as executive director, and as VP of design for CX Tech. Akino Tsuchiya - Conceptual car designer, recent returning from a Nissan/Chrysler joint project in Japan. Charles (Chuck) Pelly - A 40 year veteran of the design industry and founder of Designworks/USA, now a BMW subsidiary. Stewart Reed -The current Chairman of the Transportation Department at Pasadena's Art Center of Design.

AWARDS PRESENTED Honored Marque Award 1960 Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster Bill & Alisa Kling Malibu, CA Dick Waitneight Classic Car Award 1937 Cord 812C 2 Door Phaeton (2/2) Aaron & Valerie Weiss San Marino, CA

Kent Wilken People's Choice Award 1958 Mercedes Benz 190 SL Cabriolet Dominic Petruzzi Newport Beach, CA Branch Kerfoot Award 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V-Sedanca de Ville (1/2) Ken Smith La Jolla, CA Briggs Cunningham Award 1909 Mercedes Benz Blitzen Benz (3/3) Mercedes CC Irvine, CA

Catherine Thyen Award 1929 Packard 645 Convertible Sedan (1 of 2) Michael Harrah Santa Ana, CA Design Achievement Award - Closed 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe Ken & Dayle Roath Newport Beach, CA Design Achievement Award - Open 1937 Cord 812C 2 Door Phaeton (2/2) Aaron & Valerie Weiss San Marino, CA

Charles Hester Family Award 1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga Coupe David Steel Carmel, CA Meguair's "Finish Fantastique" Award 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 4-door John Campbell Irvine, CA 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Convertible (1/2) Ronald Busuttil Los Angeles, CA (2nd) Elegance - Awards Pre-War 1929 Packard 1608 Town Car (2 of 2) Mike Harrah Santa Ana CA

. Elegrance - Award Post-War 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe Ken & Dayle Roath Newport Beach, CA Honorary Judge's Choice 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Roadster (1/2) Thomas Shaughnessy Oceanside, CA Best in Show 1951 Delahaye 235 Roadster Peter and Merle Mullin Brentwood, TN

Dozens of awards and honors are presented to the glowing owners. But, for just the price of admission everyone gets to be judge, at least for a few fleeting moments. A very small price to pay to live the dream.  

More information on the Concours is at 


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