For the past seven years, an almost unnatural phenomenon has occurred on the shores of Georgian Bay, sometimes referred to as the sixth great lake, usually in mid-September. Tons of metal, rubber, glass and a host of other painstakingly assembled materials appear on the verdant 18th fairway of the Cobble Beach Golf Resort Community a few kilometres from Owen Sound. No, there is no need for Orillia’s own Gordon Lightfoot to break out his acoustic guitar and compose another beloved masterpiece to a tragic maritime disaster, “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
Not at all. This is a man-made spectacle of some of the finest examples of automotive history assembled and this year, from September 14 – 15, 2019, the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance presented some superb examples of patience and love with more than 100 entries of restored and rebuilt marvels of engineering and design vying for bragging rights – and respect.
The Concours d’Elegance is French for “the competition of elegance”. The cars on display at these shows are not only fully restored to mint condition, in many instances, they may even surpass the condition of vehicles that originally rolled off a manufacturer’s assembly line.
Spectators and participants alike attend the shows to immerse themselves in the automobile culture that surrounds these prestigious events.
Make no mistake: this is a competition. Points are given and taken away based on a car’s condition and even the smallest of imperfections, whether inside or out, can cost a contestant fractions of a point – and ultimately, disappointment.
Every car accepted into the show fits into a specific category, or marque, for competition. Some of the categories may include post-war, pre-war, antique, and vintage, horseless carriages, convertibles, Duesenberg, Porsche, and Bentley and so on. At Cobble Beach there were 17 unique categories this year.
While there are all these classes or categories in a Concours d’Elegance show, each group is judged based on the same strict standards to determine a winner. Automobiles are judged for their historical accuracy, their technical merit, and their individual panache.
The judges at the Cobble Beach Concours look primarily for authenticity and quality workmanship in each area of the vehicle – regardless of whether it’s the correct tire, to appropriate fasteners and the like. Perhaps stating the obvious, but a vintage car would not have been originally built with any plastic parts. Judges will deduct points for any area or component of any vehicle which is not accurate. They will also be examining the proper fit and finish of the vehicle components – how does a door sit when closed, for example. Further, every entered vehicle should look its best, but it is important to note that it must also be 100% functional. Each vehicle will be started by the owner or handler and the judges will check to see that all lights and gauges are fully functional. At Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the judges use a 100 point deduction system which is divided into categories that include body and paint finish, polished metal finishes, engine compartment detail, upholstery, chassis finish, window glass – everything! Each area is scrutinized for the correct components – as well as the proper installation and finish.
While the gleaming chrome, spotless headers and carburetors, impeccable paint finishes and restored upholstery are a big part of this show, it is important to note that the net proceeds of each show has benefited several charities. To date, slightly more than half a million dollars has been raised for various charities as a result of the auspices of this display of magnificence.
Proceeds from the 2019 Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance will help build the new home of Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, the only facility in Canada where world-class researchers and clinicians will work together to revolutionize treatment of the three most common brain disorders – dementia, stroke, and mood and anxiety disorders.