Concours d'Elegance Brings Classic Cars to Newport


NewportSeen went out to see and be seen at the Concours d’Elegance, the 4th annual Newport gathering of fine vintage vehicles and the gentleman and ladies who restore them to perfection at the 4th annual Concours d'Elegance.

The Concours d’Elegance historically dates back to 17th century French aristocracy, who paraded horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. Over time, the carriages became horseless and the gatherings became a competition among automobile owners to be judged on the appearance of their automobiles.

There are other, fabled Concourses in Pebble Beach, Greenwich, and Amelia Island, but no American place can match the historic ambience of the city to the vintage of the cars as perfectly as Newport.  A cavalcade drove from town out to the prestigious Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth on Saturday, and turned many heads en route.

Among the stunners at Fort Adams, a perfect venue overlooking Newport Harbor, were a 1915 yellow Duesenberg  (wasn’t it a Duesenberg in which Isadora Duncan strangled herself with her scarves?), a 1930 Rolls Royce owned by the the British Hans and Jackie Deamer, the only one there, Newport heiress Doris Duke’s own 1938 Packard, complete with a back seat bar in which the original Baccarat bourbon bottle still remains partially full (no, this  is not the infamous car in which she ran over and killed her chauffeur), and a 1909 Hupmobile, which was cranked up and started in a cloud of noxious smoke, moving five feet forward and five feet back.

Remarkable at 100.

Miss Duke’s car will be on display in the driveway of her Rough Point estate for the Island Moving Company gala on June 27 (see calendar for details), according to owner Dick Shappy. “It’s where it belongs,”  he said.

An original racing car, the l915 LaFrance, looked more like an industrial

vehicle, with tractor-like works and gears and attendant rust.  But I was assured that it was the fastest thing around in l915.

An elegant fashion show combining cutting-edge fashion influenced by coachwork and the design of historic and significant automobiles  paired modern dress with vintage looks.  The models took over a runway, and the music sent loud rhythmic beats through the crowd. The models posed later in and with the cars.

Tom Tkacz, whose 1929 Cadillac has won first prize in the Greenwich Concours for the past three years, gained a ribbon, and showed off the immaculate interior of the car, graced with a parasol, gloves, and a  fan of the period.

The Rhode Island Bagpipe Company enlivened the cloudy afternoon, and marched through the grounds, just below the summer white house of  President Dwight David Eisenhower.  The grounds of Fort Adams State Park adjoin Hammersmith Farm, the summer white house of President John F. Kennedy.

In attendance were Newport car collectors Curt Genga and Dick Long, along with Guillaume de Ramel, former Democrat candidate for Rhode Island Secretary of State, his son Charlie de Ramel, and Jim Leach.

For organizer Mark Hurwitz, the 2009 Concours was an astounding  success. “We’ve found a perfect home for the Newport Concours d’Elegance.”


1915 Duesenberg lovingly restored by owners

Marie & John Justo, Jim Leach, Stu Carpenter


America Vintage automobiles


Hans and Jackie Deamer


1909 Austin classic


Fashion Show


Vintage fashion


Cadillac 1929 hood ornament


Maureen McLaughlin, 1929 Caddy


Model in 1910 Oakland

1952 Jaguar

Lunching near Eisenhower House


Doris Duke's Baccarat bourbon bottles


1909 Hupmobile cranks up on its 100th birthday


American  millionaire's car, '30s

  Classic Ford Woody wagon

Doris Duke's 1938 Packard

Model with vintage fire engine

Charlie & Guillaume de Ramel


1938 Packard with ribbon


Rear of classy Ford Woody wagon


Concours 09

 Tom Tkacz with 1929 Caddy

Pierce-Arrow c. 1937

Rhode Island Bagpipe Company

Classic couture


Gil Steward & Mark Hurwitz


Bagpipers playing


Admirers and aficionados


Vintage accessories in Caddy

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