Keith’s Blog: The Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance – A Celebration of Cars and People

best of show 1934 packard 1104 super 8 owned by larry nannini

As I write this, the engine on the SCM 1958 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce has barely cooled down from the 30-mile run home from the 43rd annual Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance.

All of the cars that were so carefully displayed are gone, and the fencing surrounding the concours field has been taken down.

Held at Pacific University in Forest Grove, this concours is the largest event of its type in Oregon, and it brings thousands of car enthusiasts together from throughout the western United States.

SCM Editor at Large and collector car expert Donald Osborne and I have been co-emcees of the Forest Grove Concours for five years, and I look forward to working with him each year.

What I especially enjoy about this concours is that it is a celebration of people as much as it is about cars.

The weekend starts with a vineyard tour. This year, 45 classic cars wound through the Oregon countryside and ended up at the Stoller winery. My daughter Alex and I drove the SCM 1958 Alfa Sprint Veloce. Donald chose the 1967 Volvo 122S, primarily because it had period dealer-installed a/c.

It was unseasonably hot, with temperatures reading nearly 100 degrees. Donald quickly learned that even with an auxiliary fan, the 122S just couldn’t cope with that kind of heat and run the a/c at the same time. I’m planning on having the radiator serviced to see if that helps the problem.

The Sprint only ran hot when we were on the freeway. On secondary roads, the temperature stayed at 180 degrees. The car was a joy to drive with its newly installed rebuilt differential. I also just adjusted the front drum brakes.

Saturday, the formal dinner took place at the lovely Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, not far from Forest Grove. Peter Hageman was honored as the Senior Judge. I’ve know Peter for many years, and he is a tremendous asset to the hobby. His specialty is locating long-lost vintage Bentleys, and he always seems to be on the trail of some fabled barn find.

Sunday, Donald spent the morning interviewing car owners. Everyone had a story to tell, and the theme of this day seemed to be collectors restoring cars they had first ridden in as children.

The Tom Grant Band played just before noon. Hearing the band was a treat for me, as the last time I was onstage with them was in my days as artistic director for Ballet Oregon. We commissioned an original ballet from local choreographer Bonnie Merrill, titled “Catch Time.” The Tom Grant Band performed the music live. Now, 30 years later Tom and I were reunited, this time to celebrate vintage motoring machines.

Alex was a judge inspecting 356s and 911s, as a part of a team that included Porsche expert Win Casey.

The Classic Car Club of America held a Grand Classic in conjunction with the concours, so there was an impressive array of CCA Packards, Cadillacs and more on display.

Best of Show was selected from the winners in four categories:

Best Non-Classic Car was awarded to a 1935 Buick Model 40 owned by Diane Kelly and Tim Shields from Portland.

Best Open Car went to a 1960 Porsche 356 owned by James and Gail Smalley of Wauna, Washington.

Best Closed Car went to a 1947 Chrysler Town & Country brought by Al McEwan, of Redmond, Washington.

Best Classic Car, and also Best of Show, was awarded to a spectacular 1934 Packard 1104 Super 8, owned by Larry Nannini, from Colma, California. The car had won its class at Pebble Beach and was stunning.

Concours chairman Allen Stephens announced that one of the features of the 2016 event will be German Performance, with a special nod to BMW as it is that car company’s 100th anniversary.

To see more than 100 photos of the event in a Facebook album, click here. You don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view them.


Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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