Andy Rooney, the outspoken “60 Minutes” television commentator was a passionate “car guy.” Who would have guessed? He lived in Rowayton, Connecticut, and his station car was a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger, a class of car known at the time as a “hybrid.” Not the politically correct electric/gasoline hybrids of today; Rooney’s Sunbeam was Brit-built but was powered by a hot 289-hp American Ford V8. Such cars were called hybrids because they combined European coach work with American power trains, an amalgam of Yankee horsepower and sleek European curves. His Sunbeam was a light-weight two-seat sports car, painted, of course, in British Racing Green.
Rooney’s work-day routine was to leave his house at 5:15 in the morning to catch the 5:30 AM train into Manhattan. Many of Connecticut’s curvy and twisting suburban roads are simply paved-over cow paths from colonial times, but are hugely entertaining for sports car aficionados. If he had to leave for the train in the darkness at 5:15 AM, there’s little doubt that Rooney started his day with a smile, as he challenged the empty roads in his Tiger. Looking back some three decades later, he commented of his car, “I still own it, and it weakens my theory about gratification and desire, because I like having it today as much as I did the day I bought it.” He enjoyed talking about “blowing the doors off” other cars on the road, and needling his friend, Harry Reasoner, who only owned a lowly Citroen.
But Rooney’s car was a “station car”, which meant it sat outdoors at the station in all kinds of weather, and the weather and the years and the odd ding took their toll on the Tiger. During the last twenty years of his life, the car sat, unused, in the garage of his summer home, slowly subsiding to the damp and the wildlife that took shelter in the garage.
But there are resurrections, especially for collector-cars in barns, and Rooney’s daughter, Emily, out of respect for her father, and the good times she and her brother enjoyed as kids in the car, sent it to Whitehall Auto Restorations, in Massachusetts, for a full restoration. Now, after two years in rehab, it has emerged as good as the day it left the factory, and is probably in better condition, and will be unveiled for Rooney’s Connecticut friends and neighbors, and admirers from near and far at the 2013 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for June 1-2 at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Connecticut.
An equally interesting car making an appearance at the Greenwich Concours this year is one that defies identification at first – or second or third – glance, baffling even knowledgeable collectors. Its smooth lines, lustrous red paint and Carrozzeria Ghia crest confirm its Italian heritage, but what, exactly, is it?
Selected as the Poster Car for the 2013 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance it is a 1955 Jaguar XK140MC, with a custom aluminum body by Ghia of Turin, Italy. The MC suffix signifies that the engine was upgraded to produce 20 more horsepower, for a total or 220 hp. It was built for Marge and Gower Champion, the Hollywood musical stars, who later sold it to fellow actor, Ricardo Montalban; it is currently owned by Greenwich-collector Michael Schudroff. Thanks to its hand-made aluminum body, the coupe is substantially lighter than a stock XK140. Its greenhouse has slender roof pillars and greater glass area for a bright and airy interior. The greatest owner satisfaction though, comes from the exclusivity and the stir it creates wherever it appears at a gathering of car enthusiasts.
America II and Lionheart, the Greenwich-based ex-America’s Cup yachts will again be berthed by the Greenwich Concours and will offer two days of match racing. The association of classic cars and America’s Cup yachts is appropriate, for the yachts are truly classic, in the same sense that the cars are, being the finest craft that yacht designers, builders and sail makers could create, and conceived for the sole purpose of defending the America’s Cup during a series of challenges from sailors of other nations over a period of decades.
The Greenwich Concours – considered one of the premier Concours in the country – is unique. Since its founding in 1996 it has comprised two separate Concours, back-to-back; Saturday’s Greenwich Concours Americana features American cars from the 1900’s to the present, while Sunday’s Greenwich Concours International is exclusively for imported sports, competition and touring cars, again from the 1900’s to the present. From the beginning there has been a Best-of-Show trophy for the American cars, and a Best-of-Show for imported cars, with over a hundred classic cars and motorcycles on display each day.
Additionally, Bonhams auction company will hold an auction of rare and important collector cars and automobilia on Sunday, June 2. The cars offered will be on display for the day prior to the sale and open to prospective bidders and the public.
Automobile Magazine is the Title Sponsor of the Greenwich Concours. Renowned radio host Bob Long, will be broadcasting live from the Concours for two hours each day. AmeriCares, the respected international relief organization, ranked best by Money magazine, is the charitable beneficiary.
In addition to classic Duesenbergs, Pierce-Arrows, Packards, Auburn Speedsters, 16-cylinder Cadillacs, Mercedes 300SL Gullwings, and the popular post-war American muscle cars, spectators can also check out the very latest offerings from the Concours’ sponsor companies in a relaxed no-pressure setting. The new-car offerings of BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Hyundai, Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and other sponsor companies will be on display for viewing by show attendees, plus Chubb Personal Insurance has all the answers for insuring collector cars.
Greenwich Concours Basics
A great attraction of the Greenwich Concours is the stunning beauty of its waterfront site, Roger Sherman Baldwin Park – a verdant peninsula at the head of Greenwich Harbor – which affords cooling sea breezes and a delightful water-side setting for alfresco lunches.
The Greenwich Concours Americana and the Concours International are open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. The admission is $30 per day, or $45 for a two-day pass, and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is free, and food service is available on site. The dates for 2013 are June 1 and 2, rain or shine.
The ease of getting to the Concours also contributes to its popularity, for it’s immediately off Exit 3 of I-95, and within a block of the Metro North train station with express service from New York and Boston. And, within walking distance, is Greenwich Avenue – the Rodeo Drive of the East – with all of its many restaurants, antique shops, luxury stores, and numerous boutiques. Hotels, ranging from the modest to ultra-luxe, are also close by, with the Delamar, the host hotel, right at the Concours site. No wonder the North American edition of 1000 Places To See Before You Die lists the Greenwich Concours as one of those places!
For additional information, including a map, driving directions and contact information, visit the Greenwich Concours website at www.greenwichconcours.com.
[Source: Greenwich Concours]