Mercedes-Benz at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d'EleganceEnlarge Photo
Being a car nut is a pretty entertaining way to live one's life. The internet has masses of information for petrol heads to dig through, and there are hours and hours of YouTube videos to watch that range from turbocharged Smart cars, to the latest antics aired on Top Gear.
Still, none of those beat the excitement of seeing an exotic car in the oncoming lane of traffic. Being able to see, hear, and possibly even smell a car that has tantalized one on the screen for ages is a truly great moment. For most people, including myself, those moments are few and far between.
Fortunately, there are remedies for the lack of exciting metal being seen in person.
The first of which is a series of automotive competitions called Concours d'Elegance.
Think of it as the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for cars. The judges are experts that scrutinize the cars down to every last detail. To compete here a car has to be absolutely perfect.
Oh, and rare too.
I attended my first ever Concours event at Ault Park in Cincinnati last weekend, and was completely and entirely blown away.
To start, just the parking lots at these events are impressive. True auto enthusiasts will gather from around the area in their favorite car for this sort of event, so it was no surprise to see that the area around the show had been sprinkled with Lotuses, old BMWs, a couple of classic Jaguars and various owner clubs ranging from Miatas to Porsches.
They can't even try to hold their own against the cars in the actual show. Let's put it this way, the brand new black-on-black Ferrari California sitting in the back wasn't much of a big deal anymore. Seeing that car on the road would have caused a real automotive enthusiast to have a near accident.
Seeing a Lamborghini Miura SV for the first time in person can cause a real enthusiast to have a different kind of accident.
I wish I could list off every car that was at the show, but that isn't really the idea here. The idea is that every person that considers themselves even the slightest bit interested in cars, whether it's from a mechanical standpoint or an aesthetic standpoint, should attend at least one Concours d'Elegance in their lifetime. They will be indubitably blown away by the perfection and prestige of the cars they are able to see.
The most important thing anyone can learn from attending a Concours event, enthusiast or not, is that the automobile has gone through an immense transformation over the past 100 or so years, and that sadly, the days of a car being a work of art are coming to an end. Computers, safety, wind tunnels and government regulations have changed the way cars are designed these days, but sometimes I'd much rather see the old 246 Dino instead of the 458 Italia.
For more information on various Concours d'Elegance events across the country check out the "external links" section of this Wikipedia article.