Perhaps the most exciting activity on the day of a concours is the arrival of the show cars. Some are driven to the show site, but most arrive by trailer: flatbed, enclosed or double level transporter. The parking and unloading of a hundred or more trailers in a two-hour stretch is a production unto itself.
Once a car is on the ground, there is often the suspense of whether the motor will start. Early vehicles are hand-cranked. Others equipped with electric starters may have a button to push, knob to pull or floor pedal to depress. There are ignition switches with and without keys. There may be choke knobs, ignition advance levers or priming mechanisms. By the 1960s, nearly all American cars were equipped with a key operated ignition switch, a form of which is still used on current models. Then there’s the shifting, braking, cussing and smiling as cars are driven to the designated display areas.
It’s the sound of the engines and exhausts that most stirs the senses. Some are tremendously loud, others rattle like a bucket of bolts and some — like a Rolls Royce, for example — are so quiet, you’d think there was a Prius drivetrain beneath the coachwork. Lastly, some vehicles cars are pushed, pulled or towed to the show field.
Since vehicles typically arrive from 7am to 9am and spectator gates don”t open until 10am, most visitors arrive to a static display of parked cars. Here’s a taste of what you missed:
Tough time exiting MG sports car
Exiting an MG sports car always requires a bit of agility, but when the canvas top is up, it takes considerable creativity. This video was shot at the 2013 Celebration of Automobiles Concours d’Elegance, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the opening day of practice for the 2013 Indy 500.
The owner is shown arriving at the Speedway in a 1932 MG J2, a car he raced in last year’s Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. This unrehearsed performance was recorded by an MG owner, who had no advance knowledge of the car’s scheduled appearance and serendipitously was in position to witness this display of dexterity. It’s fitting that this occurred less than 200 yards from Pit Row, where IndyCar drivers often need assistance getting out from their cars.
After viewing the video, the 6’5″ tall owner shared, “I appreciate your capturing the only time we have ever had the top on the J2. If my back has anything to say about it, it was a one-time affair!”
Note the right-hand side steering and the difference in size from the adjacent 1926 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.