Armed with a press pass today, I joined Stephen Mitchell and Jeanette Dumouchel for a day of sightseeing, of multimillion-dollar cars at the famed Greystone Mansion Concours d'Elegance. For those unfamiliar with the concours and mansion, Susan Rosen, President, Friends of Greystone, sums it up well in the introductory letter in the concours programme:
"...Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Greystone's value to architectural and California history is unique as it is impressive. Considered to be one of California's most luxurious residences south of Hearst Castle, Greystone Masnion is one of the few great homes from the Gilded Age of American architecture that has survived relatively intact. The pastoral parklands are open to the public most of the year, sparking the imagination, curiosity and intrigue of the visitor spending time at this glorious estate..."
No riff-raff was to be found today among the overwhelming turnout of classic cars at Greystone's concours. Offering perpetual opportunity for miles of close scrutiny and appreciation, the event did not disappoint. Contrarily, it overachieved to stratospheric levels, eclipsing, in volume and spectacle, any 'cars & coffee' or cruise type of event.
Copious socializing with the owners and event goers, amid the stunning array of variety and craftsmanship invested in the cars, enlivened the gala's proceedings. The level of restoration and/or preservation of most of the cars was astounding, if not mind-bending. Here, even the lowest level of restoration/presentation offered the upper-limit of experience of cars-as-art. This was no mere car show inasmuch as it was a temporary museum available for the privileged few able to attend. For future note, if you are in any way into cars, the concours is a must-attend affair, a required pilgrimage.
For any future goers to a concours, you will burn out before you are able to see everything with full attention --but in this case will be a rewarding thing. Like going to the Louvre, for the coucours-goer, there will be too much to thoroughly see in one afternoon. And virtually every car will be shockingly maintained and gorgeous. Today's event helped me to revisit and wonder if designers and car-builders of yore were actually more enlightened and creatively alive, as I stood in awe of the sheer amount of incredible car design.
Although only a slice of the total immersion, early 20th century Rolls Royces appeared as showroom new in a surreal juxtaposition among period architecture of the Greystone Mansion's inner sanctum courtyard. In some moments it appeared as if time had instantly reversed 80 years to a vintage Los Angeles that nearly nobody alive today has ever seen. Many attendees dressed the part, donning period-esque garb and bodily adornments. The admixture of beautiful machinery with beautiful people made for a beautiful day.
One of the most interesting pieces was that of a 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder, the oldest Ferrari I have seen up close and in the metal. It was not fully restored, appearing in a patina that could have been from its original state (see below).
And there was a red Ferrari 275 GTB having been kept and restored to an incredible and almost unbelievable level (see below).
Although news abounds daily about the Great Recession, is it over/ is it really still here --whatever guise that is to assume, it appeared nowhere today, nor did it seem to matter one iota. No expenses seemed to be spared in any way, shape, of form, in creating the individual masterpieces of the concours. One could scrutinize and appreciate a single car for several minutes, disallowing for more numerous future viewings of other cars only a few feet away. I found that every extra five minutes spent viewing one car would disallow for the viewing of 3 more for what time was left in the event.
As such, sunscreen and a parasol were highly valuable tools as the sun today was brutally shining unabated by clouds. The heat roiling off the pavements and stonework of the grounds became a nicely tolerable warmth --that over time became more like an oven. Every extra few minutes meant, too, a fatigue factor became unequivocal after every few viewings. One can always see more, but would one be able to, after too much sun?
Regardless, the Greystone Mansion Councours d'Elegance, for May 6, 2012, including the catering, was excellent.