Car enthusiasts gather for the 34th annual Concours d’Elegance of America

The smell of wax and polish permeated the air July 29 at the 34th annual Concours d’Elegance of America.

The event marked the second year the Concours was held in Plymouth, after being held for 33 years at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester.

Spectators and exhibitors arrived from around the country and the world for an opportunity to see cars that are rare, unique and in some cases, were not supposed to have existed.

“This car was supposed to be crushed,” said John Miller of his and David Tom’s gleaming Shadow Gray 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe. “In fact, Dave got a call from an attorney from General Motors asking if he had this car, and he says, ‘you’re not supposed to own that. That’s R&D property, you shouldn’t have that car.’”

However, cars weren’t the only things on display. A rare Tupolev A-3 Gullwing boat, one of an indeterminate number left due to the project’s secrecy, was on display owned by Jerry Schulte. Inside the craft, an incredible complex cockpit awaits any pilot brave enough to face excursions to cross Siberian lakes and tundra.

“This one was for sale by a Russian general,” Shulte said. “And he asked my friend if he wanted it, and he said he had no interest but he had a crazy friend who may want it instead, meaning me. So that’s how I ended up with it. And I still even have the operating manual. So much stuff has been blacked out because a lot is still a secret today.”

What’s no secret is the love many of the owners have for their vehicles. It’s not unusual for owners to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into restoration and for the car to then never be driven anywhere again.

“I’ve put maybe 30 miles on it (Camaro Coupe),” Miller said. “It runs, but I’m just way too nervous to take it out anywhere.”

Whether the cars are driven,  most owners are content exhibiting their carefully restored cars.

“It’s just a great experience for everyone,” said Stacey Boller, owner of a 1956 Austin Healey Convertible. “Owners get an excuse to be car people, and people can come from everywhere to see cars from their childhoods. Even kids get to see cars that aren’t their parents’ minivans – cars that they may not see for much longer.”


Interesting numbers:

Average time to restore a car: 6 years

Number of cars exhibited: 392

Most expensive car on display: Ferrari 250 California SWB Spyder, est. value of $11,800,000

Most expensive car auctioned off: 1930 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Victoria,  $957,000

Oldest car on exhibit: 1896 Riker Runabout, 116 years old