The Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, is the benchmark of such events, held in several communities, mainly in the United States—La Jolla, Newport, Atlanta, and several others. The point is always the same. Passionate vintage car aficionados come to view highly prized vintage cars, all in factory-standard mint condition. A judging takes place, ribbons are won. It is an edifying experience for all in attendance. There is one Concours, in Kemble, Ontario, and now a second Canadian venue is on the map.
The inaugural Vancouver Island Concours, presented by the GAIN Group, was held on a splendidly sunny day at the regal Shawnigan Lake School, where 250 vehicles, many of them extremely rare, all antique, and in mint condition, were on display on two playing fields, upper and lower. It was an amazing sight, crisp chrome and impeccable paint burnished by the sun, proud owners busy discussing the unique features of their vehicles with thousands of guests in attendance.
The centre of attention was the judging of the Concours entries. Judge John Carlson led an international calibre committee, several of whom had judged at the Pebble Beach Concours the previous weekend. Head Judge Jim Thomas of Florida said the competition was extremely impressive, especially given this was the inaugural year. “It is rather amazing they could marshal such an impressive array of impeccable cars, in a relatively short period of time.”
This is not just a car show and competition, but a community affair. Sponsor tents lined the upper level field, including CTV, The Agency, David Foster Foundation, and the Cowichan Valley Hospital Foundation. Both Foundations received portions of the donations, amounting to over $180,000, raised in the last several weeks and on the day’s events. Other sponsors— who all displayed a truly generous sense of community—included Aurange Jewellery, Stefano Ricci, Mission Hill Winery, Fairway Foods, Arterra, Enrico Winery, among many others.
Guests mingled with car owners, all happily sharing their passion. The sun made the cars look even more spectacular. It was a festive, celebratory atmosphere that worked its way through the entire show, broad smiles everywhere. Owner Don Johnson, who brought his recently acquired 1965 Volvo Sport to the show, after having its hood restored by Coachwerks in Victoria, said, “It really is such a great day. You sit and talk about your car, and it is great to see so many others here, too.” A guest wandering through the grounds with Don said, “I had no idea how big this is, and so many fantastic cars. This is really amazing.”
A Cadillac Biarritz, six 1960s Jaguar E-Types, three Mercedes SLK Gullwings, and many others were part of the main competition. Owners and guests carried on knowledgeable conversations about the cars, what it takes to find such a vehicle in the first place and how to get it up to factory-perfect condition. Dave Hargreaves, general manager of Coachwerks Restoration in Victoria, was on hand. He noted that “Coachwerks did a few of these cars, certainly. It is an amazing process, to find a car that is often in dilapidated condition, and give it the attention it deserves. These cars here today are all magnificent.”
Best of Show was awarded to a fabulous 1954 Bentley Continental R. Owned by David Cohen, this was one of one—the only car of its type made that year; unique.
The judges were nearly unanimous, although the field was studded with fabulous entries. At a dinner held at Alpina Restaurant later that evening, head judge Jim Thomas said he believed the future is bright for the Vancouver Island Concours d’Elegance. We are sure he is right.
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