Detroit has its Big Three carmakers. It's also home to one of America's big three concours events; The Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's. Our RROC meet will ot end with our club's judging event on Saturday. Instead, it will conclude with the Concours on Sunday. You will be able to see the best Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars on Saturday and on Sunday, see the best of the best from all other manufacturers in an elegant setting. In addition, all concours class winners from our event will automatically be on the field at St. John's.
The concept of the Concours d'Elegance has its roots in 17th century France, when the aristocracy would parade their horse-drawn carriages through the parks of Paris in order to draw attention to their style and craftsmanship, and thus generate sales. With the advent of the automobile, Concours d'elegance events evolved into competitions between automobile manufacturers, coachbuilders, and owners, whose vehicles were judged on the beauty of their design. Haute couture also played a significant role in the events and elegant ladies and gentlemen were often positioned alongside the grand motorcars to showcase the latest in colors and fashion.
In the post-war era, America has had only a handful of world class concours events. The "grand daddies" were Pebble Beach, Meadowbrook and later, Amelia Island. For 32 years, suburban Detroit's Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance was held at Meadowbrook Hall, the fabulous historic home of Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of automotive pioneer John Dodge.
In 2011 that changed. The event moved to the beautiful grounds of the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, Michigan. There were a number of things that drove the move to St. John's, but the primary reason was that Meadowbrook Hall did not have a hotel on the grounds. One of the reasons that Amelia Island came to have such prominence was that it was easy for the collectors to attend. Once, you checked-in, all of the events were within a few steps of the hotel.
So beginning in 2011, The Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance moved across town to St. John's and became the Concours of America at St. John's.
One of the things that clearly distinguishes the concours at St. John's from other great shows is the fact that the judging, volunteers and organizing committees are almost exclusively made up of insiders from the car industry. In fact, almost every year, you can find the entire senior design management of the Detroit 3 car companies serving as judges. It's quite remarkable.
To see a vintage Eldorado being presented is one thing. To see that the man presenting it is Wayne Kady, the man who styled the car is another thing. That's a typical situation at St. John's.
The show is trying hard to evolve with the times and to present the car hobby to the average enthusiast in a way that is innovative and excited. Over the last few years, the show has featured classes of hearses, early Japanese sports cars, Jet Age station wagons, and many other styles not normally seen at traditional concours events.