I’ve just returned from the second Desert Concorso, which was in Palm Springs, CA, this year. The clear, sunny skies and 75-degree weather provided a perfect setting for more than 100 collector cars.
The weekend kicked off with a reception at Landmark Aviation, held at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport at Thermal.
Palm Springs Stadium was the venue for the concours this year. The cars were displayed on the baseball field, which provided a visually and physically enclosed way to present the show.
SCM contributor and long-time friend Donald Osborne (and host of his own segment on the new “Jay Leno’s Garage” show on CNBC) and I were co-emcees. We both noted that this was the first time we had been at a concours held on a baseball field, and it made describing the location of the cars very easy.
“Let’s talk about the Maserati 3500s that are located on the left-field foul line, just past third base.” “What a magnificent Alfa Romeo SZ you’ll find in deep left field.”
The quality of this year’s field was up significantly from the first Desert Concorso. The Petersen Museum sent three important cars: a 1923 Mercedes-Benz Targa Florio, one of four built, a 1937 Jaguar SS 100 and a 1959 Corvette with coachwork by Scaglietti. Dana Williamson, the Petersen’s Collection Manager, presented the cars.
The most intriguing car was a home-built special that Willis Baldwin created in 1951 to compete in the original Palm Springs Road Races. Bill Pollack and Bill Hanssen raced the car in period. Four years ago, Hanssen’s son Stu found the car and restored it, and he drove in this year’s awards ceremony.
There were many familiar faces at the event, including SCMers Bruce McCaw, Bruce Meyers, Bill Scheffler, Dominic Dobson, Glenn Mounger, Alan Taylor, Michael Dorvillier (who had an attractive display promoting the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance) and Keith McCormick, whose Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions are a major sponsor of Desert Concorso.
Longtime SCM contributor Carl Bomstead was on hand to admire the cars and cover the event for the magazine.
Best of Show went to an immaculate 1970 Ferrari 246 GT Dino owned by Jerry Murray of Costa Mesa, CA. The Founder’s Award went to the Baldwin Special. Paul Emple’s recreation of the Isotta Fraschini Flying Star won the President’s Award.
My two personal favorites were Berry Connally’s perky 1964 Triumph Spitfire, which won the Meguiar’s Best Finish Award, and a 1960 Alfa Romeo SZ that was brought by Roger and Rhonda Groves. It’s no secret that the SZ is my all-time heartthrob car. I offered to trade the Groves the SCM Méhari and Volvo Amazon straight across for their dark blue SZ, but they seemed disinterested. Perhaps they were just being coy.
It’s not easy getting a new event off the ground, even when it is the offshoot of the world-class Concorso Italiano. This year, the cars were better, and the attendance was up. You can’t really ask for better signs of progress.
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