TodayApril 15, 2022

American Classic Cars at the Concours d’Elegance of America

It’s all about the American cars. For over forty years, the Concours d’Elegance of America has showcased vehicles from 1900 to today in the Motor City.

The Concours d’Elegance of America is Michigan’s first large-scale, open-air automotive celebration in 2021. To highlight the American Concours, fourteen classic American vehicles from 1922 – 1942 are on display from Fri, July 23, 2021 – Sun, July 25, 2021. 

American classic cars made for the working man are the property of The NB Center, a private collection located in Allentown, PA.

1922 Oldsmobile Model 47-F Super Sport 

The 1923 Oldsmobile ads illustrated that the Model 47 was built for people who make the most summer, and the Super Sport was called a thoroughbred. Their distinction was attributed to the fact that they were considered true sports cars, not conventional cars with accessories added as an afterthought. The Oldsmobile Super Sport is complete in every detail, from Tuarc steel wheels, nickeled brightwork, triple bar bumpers, fore and aft to aluminum steps, and windshield wings, so that no options needed to be purchased later. 

These cars were eight cylinders to enjoy the smoothness and flexibility that one can only find with the ability of an eight-cylinder. General Motors used sports stars such as Ty Cobb in the advertising to promote this car.

The Model 47 is an original example of the first car to be designated SuperSport. With seating for four, it has aluminum step plates instead of running boards. It is powered by a V-8 flathead engine and three-speed transmission. It was purchased in Massachusetts from the long-time owner, with plans to maintain and preserve the car in this condition.

1932 Studebaker President 8 Series 91

1932 brought financial woes to the Studebaker company. Exterior and interior designs were made, including a slanted windshield and rounded body lines. The Series 91 featured a V-shaped radiator with a forward slope at the bottom. 

The car is powered by an 8-cylinder engine, new synchromesh transmission, and a vacuum-controlled spark advance, free-wheeling in all forward gears. Additionally, a new Startix automatic starter used the Automatic Ride Control, an entirely new shock absorber for the time.

This state sport coupe body style features a fully enclosed driver and passenger compartment with additional seating in its rumble seat, making it a 2 or 4 passenger car, plus a golf club door on the passenger side rear quarter panel. It has dual side mounts, dual horns, and the “Reflex” taillight reflector. Even if the light bulb failed, the reflector warned oncoming drivers by reflecting the light from their own headlights.

The car was purchased from the third owner, restorer Tom Sparks; the original owner sold the car to Phil Everly (of the Everly Brothers) in 1970, and Sparks purchased the car from him the following year. Sparks leased the car to the Hollywood studios, and it appeared in several films.

In 1986, Sparks restored the car to Concours quality, and it was successful at a number of shows. The tasteful exterior presentation features two-tone paintwork, matching painted wire wheels, and whitewall tires. The interior is upholstered in gray broadcloth with leather in the rumble seat.

1933 Cadillac Series 452-C (5575) V16

Cadillac’s decision to build a sixteen-cylinder car could be tied to the desire to build the finest motor car in the world. The company’s own advertising read: “The story of the V-16’s ascendency is an interesting one. No restriction of any nature was permitted to interfere with, or in any way hinder, the realization of the fundamental purpose – to produce the finest medium of personal transportation on earth.”

Subtle changes were made for 1932: a longer wheelbase, new carburetors, a mechanical fuel pump, heavier axles, and larger brakes. A vacuum-operated automatic clutch was introduced along with free-wheeling. Also new were adjustable shock absorbers operated from the dashboard. Silent helical gears were now used in all Cadillac transmissions. Technical changes for 1933 were modest: smaller wheels and other minor updates. It was the styling for which the ’33s would forever be known; with its triple cone horns, four-blade bumpers, available stainless body and fender trim, and many other details taken together, it can be seen as an Art Deco masterpiece.

It was found in Maine in a pole building, in which it was nicely preserved, making this 4-door 7-passenger limo a unique, original survivor. Upon arrival, the car received a thorough review-brakes, fuel system, suspension, and all wearable mechanical parts. The collection plan is to keep the car a completely original car suitable for driving, as it was in 1933.

1933 Graham Model 64 Standard 8 blue streak

It is no surprise that Amos Northup, the Father of Streamline, was the man behind the car that looked like it was in motion, even when standing still. The sloped-back grille, radiator cap under the hood, painted headlamp, and skirted fenders were all styling innovations. 

The Graham’s new chassis influenced the styling, allowing the car to ride lower, and the frame was masked from sight. The ground-breaking styling of this car was copied by half of the American car industry within a couple of years.

The Graham’s performance, power, and durability were proven when Erwin George “Cannonball” Baker used a Graham Blue Streak for his 1933 cross-country run. This impressive record was completed in a record 53 ½ hours and held for four decades. 

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1933 Graham M64 Bluestreak 4-Door Sedan available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1933 Reo Royale

Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer in the automotive industry and founder of the Oldsmobile and REO brands. He started the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, on August 21, 1897. Ransom Olds left the company in 1904 to start REO, a name derived from the initials of its founder. 

REO’s success came from producing solid cars with broad appeal in the lower-medium-priced field. Business continued to grow in the twenties but abruptly stopped in the chaos of the Depression. All the earnings of 1928 were used to modernize the manufacturing plant and to start the assault on the luxury car market. 

The new Royale was launched in September 1930 for the 1931 model year, leaving the motoring world astonished and delighted. The Royale owed its beauty to lines that flowed from the V-shaped radiator to the streamlined tail. Still, sales continued to be disappointing. In an attempt to improve sales, the model lineup was expanded in 1931, with many variations of furnishings, engines, and wheelbases. 

REO expected that all these offerings would help the company reverse its downward sales slide. But the economic recession lingered and completely destroyed the luxury car market. 

The 1932 and 1933 model years saw a drastic reduction of models available, but sales were catastrophic. After some more dwindling sales in October 1936, REO auto operations ceased, putting an end to a prestigious brand. 

1934 Studebaker Commander 8 

1934 Studebaker Commander 8 – American Classic Cars at the Concours d’Elegance of America

In 1934, ninth-ranked Studebaker came out with a daring new design.

Heavily influenced by the Pierce-Arrow Silver of 1933, the avant-garde Land Cruiser was available in Dictator, Commander, and President models. These models were the first of four series built of the Land Cruiser body style.

The highly stylized Land Cruiser body featured a unique four-window pane rearview, coupled with a sloping fastback style that was influenced by European streamline designs of the period. The laid-back grille and a belt molding that followed the slope of the streamlined rear gave the car the appearance of motion while standing still.

Other innovative styling features included the horizontal louvers on the hood side, spare tire integrated into the body shell, and fully skirted rear fenders.

The Commander was powered by an L-head inline cast iron eight-cylinder engine with aluminum heads. It developed 130 horsepower at 3,800 rpm.

It is unclear how many cars were produced of this model, but Studebaker only produced 3,698 cars from September 1933 to October 1934. This Commander Land Cruiser is one of only three cars of all three models known to exist today. More importantly, it is in factory condition. The other two have been converted into street rods.  

After its original introduction in 1934 and 1935, the Land Cruiser was not built again until 1941, making these early Land Cruisers extremely rare. 

The car was purchased in 2002 from Max Rubin of Virginia, a known Studebaker Club enthusiast who restored the car. Rubin began restoring the car in 1996 and completed the restoration in 2000.

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1934 Studebaker Commander Landcruiser available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1935 Buick Model 96S coupe

The lowest-priced car in the 90 series for 1935 at $1,875.00 was the 96S Sport Coupe. Of the 41 sport coupes produced and sold in the US and one produced for export in 1935, it is believed that only one survives today.

The car was acquired in December 1999 and was a true basket case. At the time, the engine and chassis were amateurishly restored, and the remainder of the car was in boxes, crates, and piles in the rumble seat. The body was dented and abused, there was dry rot in the wood, and the chrome needed repair and plating.

Restoration began in earnest in October 2001 with the goal of having the car ready to celebrate Buick’s 100th anniversary in 2003. Somewhere during the initial phases of restoration, it became apparent that the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was going to have a special Buick class in 2003 to mark the Buick anniversary. The decision was made to restore the 96S with the goal of display and competition at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Precision Motor Cars had never restored a car to the degree demanded by Pebble Beach, but they were up to the challenge.

The entire car was dismantled, and every detail was painstakingly and meticulously redone. Parts were located, including finding an entire spare drive train from an all-original 90 series convertible sedan that was being street-rodded. Thousands of man-hours went into seeing that the minutest detail was done. Unexpected delays with component restoration and an unwelcome dock workers strike that held up interior components for weeks threatened to derail the entire restoration. With just ten weeks remaining before the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the bare metal bodywork was still being straightened and repaired.

The incredibly dedicated crew worked exclusively on the car. The Ambassador Maroon paint was not applied to the car until four weeks prior to Pebble Beach. In the final three weeks leading up to the Concours, the crew slept and took all their meals in the garage. A final 22-hour stretch saw the car readied to go on the truck for the trip out west, but the car was still unfinished. The car was met in Pebble Beach by a five-person crew, and, working through the night under a tent erected next to the trailer, they did the final detailing.

At 8 a.m. on August 17, 2003, on what is affectionately known as the Dawn Patrol, the car moved under its own power for the first time onto the field at Pebble Beach. An elated crew from Precision Motors beamed as the faithful on the show field got their first glimpse of the 96S. When the time came for awards to be handed out, the Buick was called to the podium to be honored. A second-place finish for the 96S was happily accepted by an exhausted crew of restoration professionals and Mr. Nicola Bulgari.

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1935 Buick 96-S Coupe available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1935 Hupmobile Model 527T (8)

The Raymond Loewy-designed models of 1934 and 1935 were innovative cars that sparked a new era of design for Hupmobile. These cars, the Hupp Aerodynamics, were designed like no other car offered before by any manufacturer, including previous Hupmobiles. Most notable of the design elements were the rounded lines not seen before, as all body contours were rounded whenever possible. Front and rear fenders were now tear-dropped shaped and fully skirted, and the headlights were no longer apart from the front end but instead faired into the fenders. They featured sloping grilles and split “seagull” front bumpers. Also new was the rear-mounted spare in its own storage compartment, found on the back of the car and could only be accessed without opening the trunk lid.

Compared to the traditional spare location behind the front wheels above the running board, this ensured a clean wheel/tire assembly and allowed for smooth airflow around the body.

Among the most distinctive features was the three-piece wraparound windshield, also known as the “pilothouse windshield.” A stylish touch, it did have its disadvantages, like windshield wipers that covered only a limited area in the middle of the glass and the inability to open for ventilation. However, Loewy addressed the ventilation issue by including a kick-panel vent system.

These cars were well-designed, stylish, comfortable, and dependable, having been built using time-proven components. Buyers could choose between six and eight cylinders from the big series models- J, T, O, and N, and small series models, D and G, differentiated by size, namely wheelbase length.

 New for 1935 was the mesh-type grille, updated from the vertical bars of 1934. The 1935 also got small, extra “mouse ear” vents on the hood sides ahead of the front doors.

This 1935 Hupmobile is an example of the largest of all Hupp Aerodynamics, the series T. An 8 cylinder sits on a 127 ½ inch wheelbase and produces 120 horsepower. This car received a comprehensive restoration from Precision Motor Cars and was completed in October of 2011. It is painted the 1935 Hupmobile standard Deep Orange and finished with a tan interior.   

1935 Nash Ambassador 8 (3588)

The 1935 Nash product line was debuted on Christmas Day 1934 and again on New Year’s day 1935 via a 3-hour radio broadcast over the WABC Columbia network. The star-studded extravaganza tastefully made reference to the new cars throughout.

There was a reason for all the publicity. For the 1935 Nash scored some significant firsts while raising the bar for the lexicon of automobile promotion.

The all-new “Aeroform” design bodies featured all-steel construction. “Flying Power” was the new name for the twin ignition system and lightweight engine parts derived from airplane manufacture. “Feather touch steering” utilized ball bearings, and “Automatic Cruising Gear,” known as overdrive today, was, as Nash puts it, “high-speed performance at an average speed cost.”

Nash’s were always known for being value-engineered, and 1935 was no different. The engine was an overhead-valve straight-eight displacing 260.8-cubic inches and producing 100 horsepower. The crankshaft rode in nine main bearings to assure a solid structure. The twin ignition, a feature on the top-of-the-line Nash models for years, would assure a backup in the case of failure. An Eight set a new gas economy record of 17.4 mpg in over 700 miles of driving.

The eight came in two body styles: the Sedan and Victoria (2-door sedan) and two trim levels: the top-of-the-line Ambassador and the Advance. The Ambassador Eight Sedan was the highest-priced car in the model line at $1,290. 44,637 Nash cars were produced for the 1935 model year, and it is assumed that 2,000 or less of those were the Eight.

This car was purchased in the summer of 2003 after a tip that the car was lying in the woods in upstate New York. The owner was tracked down, and the car was purchased, knowing that the car would require a complete restoration in doing so. It underwent a 14-month complete restoration by Precision Motor Cars and is a fine example of Art Deco design.   

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1935 Nash Ambassador 8 Sedan available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1936 Hudson Series 65 Custom 8

Founded in 1908, the Hudson Motor Company enjoyed great success as one of America’s leading manufacturers in its early years. Hudson’s reputation was based on the solid and reliable Six and Super Six models during the 1920s. In response to a trend towards engines of straight eight-cylinder configuration, Hudson introduced the appropriately named Hudson Eight in 1930, Hudson’s reputation for performance continued.

 In 1936, Hudson introduced hydraulic brakes for the first time on its Eight. One of only six known survivors, this Series 65 Hudson Custom Eight has 113 hp, a 254 cubic-inches, L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, and a Carter 330S carburetor. It features radial safety control front suspension and semi-rear floating rear axle, four-wheel Duo-Serve hydraulic brakes, and a wheelbase of 120 inches.  

The standard equipment found only on the Custom Eight series includes the large wheel covers, a banjo-style steering wheel, a radio with an under-the-running-board antenna, and a cigar lighter. This Convertible Coupe also sports various optional equipment, including fender-mounted parking lights, an electric clock, and the “Electric Hand” vacuum-electric transmission control system. It also features the disappearing roll-down wind wings. Complementing these features is the Glacier Blue exterior and detailed brown interior.

A rare survivor, this Hudson Custom Eight has been restored to Concours quality condition prior to joining The NB Center collection.

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

1936 Hudson Terraplane Custom Six Convertible Coupe (Dark Blue) brooklin models
1936 Hudson Terraplane Custom Six Convertible Coupe (Dark Blue) Brooklin models

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1936 Hudson Terraplane Custom Six Convertible Coupe (Dark Blue) available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1937 Chrysler Imperial (C-14)

No longer an Airflow, the true Imperial of 1937 had the same styling as Chrysler’s six-cylinder line of the year named Royal. However, these eight-cylinder Imperials featured a longer wheelbase, larger tires, longer hood and cowl, and more luxurious interior appointments. 

This included the new “safety styling” of the instrument panel, where all controls and gauges were set flush with the panel’s surface, so there are no protruding knobs to bump. 

They also had the new built-in defroster vents, insulated body mounts, and seat safety padding. The Imperial name appeared prominently on the nose between the grille and the wraparound hood louvers. Of the C-14 series total production of 87,000 in 1937, only 351 were 2-door convertibles. Weighing 3,609 pounds, the car sold new in 1937 for $1,170.00.

This rare example was purchased at auction in 2005 after being discovered in a barn completely disassembled in western Pennsylvania and was in desperate need of restoration. The same car from another collector was borrowed for documentation purposes as part of the restoration process, though the borrowed car had side-mounted spares. The work began in late 2011, the car was restored to its original specifications, and the car was finished in the fall of 2013. 

Its exterior color is a true 1937 Chrysler model color, Brewster Green Metallic, complemented by the tan top. The interior is a well-appointed beige leather, which enhances the exterior color. The options include front bumper, rear bumper, fender skirts, radio, heater, clock, cigarette lighter, and radio antenna. This car is very rare and is the only known survivor with front wing window assemblies, which mid-year production saw changed to single glass door windows.

From the Concours to a Brooklin miniature model car

Brooklin Models has an exact replica of the 1937 Chrysler Imperial C-14 2 Door Convertible available for sale. It is available in the new collector’s box and also in the luxury box. The model is hand-built using white metal by artisans creating models of American and European cars in a 1:43 scale.

1940 Graham model 108 Senior Sharknose

In the late thirties, Graham was in need of a daring new design, and in 1938, the task was given to Amos E. Northup, the chief designer for bodybuilder Murray Corporation. During his career with Murray, Northup was responsible for the graceful Willys 77, the 1931 REO Royale Eight, and Graham’s trend-setting Blue Streak of 1932.

Graham introduced the “Spirit of Motion” styling in 1938, but the public soon nicknamed it the Sharknose Graham. The striking leaning-into-the-wind profile copied old racing photographs, in which the camera shutter made all fast cars look like they were trying to outrun themselves. Even standing still, the Graham seemed to be moving fast. All Sharknose Grahams used the Continental 6-cylinder engine, with an induction and exhaust system designed by Graham. 

 The Graham Sharknose was introduced for the 1938 model year in four series: Standard, Special, Supercharged, and Custom Supercharged. The 1939 model year had the addition of the Custom Special model with some small updates. Announced in October 1939, the Sharknose Graham continued in 1940 and were redesignated Senior (Model 108), available in the DeLuxe and Custom series, as well as Supercharged (Model 107) versions of the two series. Also added was the Hollywood Custom Supercharged (Model 109) sedan. 

 This Graham Model 108 Senior was purchased in 2008 by The NB Center Collection. The car was found at a swap meet as a project needing a lot of work which began in 2015 and has been completely restored in 16 months.

This car is an important testimonial of an independent brand that remains part of the history of the American automobile.

1941 Dodge luxury liner deluxe (D-19)

This American classic car was purchased by The NB Center collection in April of 2007. It was spotted in Lancaster alongside a barn during a driving tour of three other collection cars. Mr. Nicola Bulgari turned off the road into the farm to take a peek at the car that was sitting outside in the elements. He instantly fell in love with it and wanted to save the car. The curator later returned to purchase the car, but the owner was not interested in selling it. After some convincing by the owner’s wife to sell what she saw as a “piece of junk,” the owner agreed to sell the car for not a penny under the price he had in mind. The sale was finalized, and the car was taken to Allentown, PA.  

It underwent a complete body-off restoration between 2008-2010, though the interior was preserved in original condition and simply cleaned. To emphasize that this car was part of a driving collection the car’s speedometer and gauges were cleaned up and calibrated. It has been a wonderful addition to the collection and a great example of the every day, mid-priced automobile from the Dodge line of this period.

1942 Hudson SIX DELUXE

1942 Hudson SIX DELUXE

This American car was purchased by The NB Center collection in October of 2006 from a seller in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Its history has always been a Pennsylvania car, including originally being purchased in Pennsylvania in 1942.

It was a great survivor car but in need of restoration. Work began in October of 2015 and was completed the following year. As a survivor, it meant that original features could be referenced right on the car. Take the paint- the original color was Brigade Blue Metallic, and it was repainted this color using color matching to the original color. Also, the correct original fabrics were not available, so in order to restore the car to as original as possible, two types of fabric had to be made as per the original found in the car. 

Additionally, a parts car was purchased to assist with the restoration. The efforts paid off in the fine example you will see today at the Concours d’Elegance of America July 23-25.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.