In its 4th year, the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance continues to bring beautiful pieces of art and sculpture to the small town of Kemble just north of Owen Sound, Ontario. A very popular tradition in Europe and the United States, Canada is now starting to show its mark within the classic car hobby worldwide.
Many Canadian cars often show up at American Concours events, however, the Canadian Concours was non-existent until the dreams of Rob McLeese and his father Willis became a reality in 2013. Now every year, hundreds of beautiful cars from collections all over Canada, and even some American collections, spend the day on the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay. This is an event worth
checking out, to learn and witness the stunning art within the automobile, that I have had the privilege of attending since its first year.
Unlike past years, this year featured stunning automobiles, vintage watercraft and vintage motorcycles predominantly from Canadian collections rather than in previous years where many classes also featured numerous American participants as well. The award recipients are also a great indicator of the growing and emerging awareness of the beautiful and rare vehicles that reside in our own country. This year also marked the first Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best in Show to be won by a Canadian collector and owner. The other noticeable difference this year was a large shift from many Pre-War vehicles to more Post-War vehicles, European, North American and even Canadian-built and engineered automobiles. This shift can be seen due to a growing collector base within European Sports Cars, American Sports Cars and Muscle Cars, a topic covered in depth and with much knowledge on the Saturday during a Hagerty seminar.
On the rainy Saturday, collectors, participants and enthusiasts flocked to Cobble Beach to take part in the Participant’s Tour, the test drive events held by Cadillac and Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, as well as some seminars also hosted on the grounds by Hagerty. The test drive events were held all weekend long and could allow you to drive either a new Cadillac model, or one of five classic cars brought to the event by Hagerty Classic Insurance. Whether you wanted to try a 1969 Camaro SS 396, 1967 Corvette 427 Convertible, or a classic Mustang or T-Bird, you had your choice. This event helps bring awareness to the hobby and gives people a chance to experience the appeal or owning and driving a classic car is. The other important highlight was the seminar covering the future of pre-war classic automobiles and where the next generation collectors are heading towards. This covered many unfortunate truths that some classics are too expensive for the next generation, the knowledge of how to upkeep and restore these beautiful vehicles is disappearing and also that the next generation of collectors are shifting towards post-war sports cars and muscle cars, noticeable at the show on the Sunday. Jay Quail, the Executive Director of the Classic Car Club of America, highlighted the CCCA’s initiatives to bring youth into the classic car hobby and Concours events through judging programs and classes to increase awareness.
For the main show on the Sunday, the weather was perfect and the backdrop provided stunning scenery behind each beautiful automobile on the 18th green. A number of the judges are also from the Headwaters area and are a part of our local car communities as well. The classes ranged from classic motorcycles, boats and vehicles pre-1916, all the way up to iconic muscle cars and European sports cars. Also attending was a vintage race car class, one of which was renowned Formula 1 driver, Ayrton Senna’s, 1987 Lotus 99T/S F1 car, a true treat to be able to see in person. Also of interesting mention were Canadian-built and engineered automobiles consisting of two classes at this year’s event. Most notably, a stunning 1932 McLaughlin-Buick Series 67S four door sedan offered a great look into the rich and long history of the Canadian automotive industry and a brand that is still around today. This car was found in a scrapyard in 1968 and restored to its present, award-winning state attending the show. Also of mention was the Rolling Sculpture award, given to another beautiful Cadillac owned by Canadian collector Steve Plunkett, also having received the award last year as well with his 1932 Phaeton.
This year was extremely important in the eyes of a Canadian automotive enthusiast and hobbyist such as myself. Participants and spectators were able to witness the first vehicle owned by a Canadian collector, winning Best in Show at this Concours. Gerry Hockin of Burlington, Ontario took home numerous awards for his 1932 Auburn Speedster, but most notably the best in show award. This stunning vehicle also won People’s Choice and stole the attention of many attendees. This stunning car is known as one of the only true sports cars of America in its day and features stunning Art Deco Woodlite headlamps, flowing lines and curves and plenty of chrome. These features are among the rarest and most desirable of the Full Classics. Gerry accepted the award with family at his side and a large smile. This award was a true achievement and the Auburn a stunning vehicle worthy of the merit.
After another year wrapped up, it will be interesting to see what beautiful vehicles and interesting owners the Concours brings back to Cobble. An event I would highly recommend making the trek up to Kemble, to enjoy the beautiful scenery, both natural landscape and beautifully designed vehicles.
Written by: David Murphy