The 2015 Ramapo Concours d’Elegance

The first annual Ramapo Concours d’Elegance was held on the grounds of Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ, on Saturday June 6, 2015. The Concours was an outgrowth of a regular Cars & Coffee event held at the campus (and locally referred to as a “Caffeine & Carburetors” gathering).

Show cars were arrayed on the grass (thankfully not asphalt) in front of the bandshell.
Show cars were arrayed on the grass (thankfully not asphalt) in front of the band shell.

Our Driving Club regulars started the day extra-early by meeting at Mary Ann’s deli for breakfast. As my Alfa was entered in the show (alas, the only car in our group so selected), I needed to leave breakfast early, not only to arrive on the show field on time, but also to detail my car after driving an hour in the rain that morning! Once there, detailing was not helped by an intermittent sprinkle which lingered until after 9 a.m., by which time the first of the spectators had arrived. By 9:30, the sun was out, and it turned into a beautiful, warm spring day.

The view of the show field from the folding chair.
The view of the show field from the folding chair.

The college enlisted co-sponsorship from the Prestige Dealership Group of northern New Jersey, and Hackensack Medical University Hospital. While all who worked the event made their best efforts to be helpful and accommodating, it was obvious that this was the first time any of them had put on a car show. It is not worth dwelling on “things gone wrong” that day, as frankly, most of them were minor and easily fixed with an increased focus on logistics, which should be expected from them now that they’ve done it once.

We will however, review the show cars (and the vast majority of these automobiles were outstanding) by “class”. If there was an overriding point of discussion during the day, it concerned the vehicle classes. While some classes were well-defined and well-populated, other classes were very small and/or left us wondering how they were decided upon.

Microcars on display included this rare Messerschmitt cabrio.
Microcars on display included this rare Messerschmitt cabrio.

At the end of the show, I heard one of the dealer principals comment that he was amazed at the large turnout of microcars. He need not have been. These puppy-dog cars have been steadily gaining in popularity, especially in the last decade. We had the “usual” Isettas and Messerschmitts, plus some less-frequently seen tiny cars.

This Euro-spec Isetta bubble-window cabrio is ultra-rare. It is estimated that something between 15-99 (out of 161,000) were made of this body style.
This Isetta bubble-window cabrio is ultra-rare. It is estimated that between 15-99 (out of 161,000) of this body style were made.
This restoration was close to 100% original. As a former Isetta owner, I know.
This restoration was close to 100% original. As a former Isetta owner, I know.
A 1955 Messerschmitt with its canopy top open.
A 1955 Messerschmitt with its canopy top open.
The Isetta's big brother, the BMW 600. It had TWO cylinders, for 26 horsepower!
The Isetta’s big brother, the BMW 600. It had TWO cylinders, for 26 horsepower!

 

At noon, A Zimmer (of all things) invited itself in, and proceeded to park next to this Mini Clubman.
At noon, A Zimmer (of all things) invited itself in, and proceeded to park next to this Mini Clubman.
This 1967 Mini looked large next to its microcar brethren.
This 1967 Mini looked large next to its microcar brethren.

 

Two extremes of air-cooled VWs: a '70s bus next to a WW2 military VW.
Two extremes of air-cooled VWs: a ’70s bus next to a WW2 military VW.

Another well-populated class, these cars were not even considered collectible until rather recently. Now, Beetles, Karmann-Ghias, and especially buses have soared in popularity (AND price). Get yours while they’re affordable.

Air-cooled AND rear-engined.
Air-cooled AND rear-engined.

The class definition excluded 924s, 944s, 928s, and any 911 built after 1998. Nevertheless, old-school 911s and 356s turned out in force. Everyone loves these cars, as they are so recognizable, even if many of us have been priced out of the market.

MERCEDES SL PRE-71

While no 300SLs graced us with their presence, this 3rd class of German cars still impressed us with a nice selection of 190SLs, and various “Pagoda” cars (230/250/280 SL).

It's June, so Pagoda tops are home in favor of soft tops.
It’s June, so Pagoda tops are home in favor of soft tops.

 

A Continental Mark II (don't call it a Lincoln!) on display.
A Continental Mark II (don’t call it a Lincoln!) on display.

One of only 3 domestic classes, this was also the class with the fewest number of vehicles in it. In fact, there were a total of 3 cars, and since 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies were being awarded, everyone in this class took something home!

You can have your show T-Bird any way you like (as long as it's a 2-seater).
You can have your show T-Bird any way you like (as long as it’s a 2-seater).

The above is the total class description. Ford made T-Birds every year from 1955 through 1997, then the Retro-Bird from 2002-2006. Yet of the 10 or so cars on the show field, every one of them was either a ’56 or ’57 (all 2-seaters, obviously, or perhaps not obviously if you are unaware). However that happened, it was nice to see the colorful collection on display. The original T-Bird still has a charm all its own.

 

An XK-120 obviously in the correct class.
An XK-120 in the correct class.

The class definition assured us that we would see only “classic Jags”, the newest of which would Series 1 E-types. We were rewarded with some of the nicest machinery on the entire field. Several of the XKs were truly #1 cars, with gorgeous cosmetics, and paint better than ever applied at the factory.

An XK-120 stunning us all in its blue perfection.
An XK-120 stunning us all in its blue perfection.
An XK-120 MC. Note the "wind visors" in place of a proper windscreen.
An XK-120 MC. Note the “wind visors” in place of a proper windscreen.
A Series 1 E-type OTS (open two seater).
A Series 1 E-type OTS (open two seater).

 

Post-war cars with cycle fenders and stand-alone headlights? Must be British.
Post-war cars with cycle fenders and stand-alone headlights? Must be British.

Jaguars had their own class, so this class grouped some common and not-so-common British machines. This likely was the most eclectic grouping on the grounds that day, with a pre-war Triumph, a pre-war Aston Martin, and a Sunbeam Harrington battling it out for “most unique British car”.

A Sunbeam Harrington from the rear, showing its unique roofline.
A Sunbeam Harrington from the rear, showing its unique roofline.

 

Yes, there were cars other than Ferraris in the Italian class.
Yes, there were cars other than Ferraris in the Italian class.

Of course, this was the class into which my Alfa was entered. By definition, we might have seen everything from a Fiat 850 spyder, to a Lancia Fulvia, Maserati Mistral, Lamborghini Miura, and Ferrari 275 GTB. None of them showed. The class turned out to be one of the lesser-populated: 4 Ferraris and 3 Alfas were the total turnout. All the Ferraris were ‘70s era and newer, and all 3 Alfas were Giulia coupes!

This was the only class for which I recorded the class winners (noted in below photos).

Third place: a former barn find '79 Ferrari 308 GTB.
Third place: a former barn find ’79 Ferrari 308 GTB.
Second place: '67 Alfa GT 1300 Jr (that hat looks familiar).
Second place: ’67 Alfa GT 1300 Jr (that hat looks familiar).
First place: 1973 Ferrari Dino.
First place: 1973 Ferrari Dino.

A discussion that I became part of at the end of the show assured me that the wheels are already in motion to make next year’s event better. One of the show principals and one of the judges were engaged in dialogue to improve the class definitions. The important point is, whatever they decide, the 2016 Ramapo Concours should be that much more well-organized and well-run.

 

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

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