After nearly two years of planning, the inaugural Audrain’s Concours d’Elegance came to a close with Joseph & Margie Cassini’s 1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Fleetwood crossing the podium to receive the ‘Most Elegant’ award, being held there in front of the crowd, in dramatic fashion, to also receive the Best of Show award.
Shown at the 1926 New York Auto Salon, the Tipo 8A S Roadster was commissioned by film star, Rudolph Valentino, and adds this Audrain’s Best of Show trophy to its extensive collection which includes two Best of Class trophies from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. A fitting finish to the show considering the car’s second owner was prominent and pioneering Rhode Island collector, George Waterman.
That the Isotta also won the ‘Most Elegant’ award, selected and presented by special judge Sandra Button, Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, was not surprising. It was a true star among stars, the capstone of three full days of automotive events comprising the Audrain’s Concours & Motor Week.
“Our expectations for this debut event were high, but the reception exceeded them in almost every way”, said Concours Chairman Donald Osborne. “The cars, the people, the stories and the setting all came together to become the living expression of the event’s theme, ‘History, Luxury, Sport’- the essence of Newport. We are thrilled with the outcome.”
With 40 prominent judges from four countries and 98 cars from across the USA, the inaugural Concours d’Elegance was held at The Breakers mansion, the most famous of the ‘Newport Cottages’ and former home of the Vanderbilt family. Not only were the Vanderbilts prominent Newport socialites but numbered among them Willie K. Vanderbilt, one of the greatest car enthusiasts of the early twentieth century.
The Concours featured 13 classes of vehicles from 1899 to 1970 plus the first of its kind ‘30 Under 30’ class. The brainchild of Jay Leno, Chairman of the Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week, the 30 Under 30 class featured car owners under thirty years old who have spent less than $30,000 on their car. Carter Kramer’s 1976 BMW 2002 took home 1st in Class.
Other class winners included a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost owned by Rick Brown carrying a body built for Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a rare 1931 Ballot RH3 sports car owned by Michael Howe, a charismatic 1968 Oldsmobile 442 convertible owned by Robert Fisette and James Utaski’s spectacular 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, which also won the coveted ‘Excellence in Design’ trophy, chosen and presented by Michael Simcoe, VP of Global Design for General Motors.
Among the other special awards given were the ‘Chairman’s Choice’ prize to Stephen and Kim Bruno’s 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Pinin Farina cabriolet, an elegant Paris Show car and Nürburgring racer, The ‘Sporting Choice’ award given to the dramatic 1939 Type 57 Aravis Roadster of Peter and Merle Mullin and the ‘Founder’s Choice’ trophy won by Rob Kauffman’s 1901 Panhard et Levassor Type B1, which was a participant in the 1902 Vanderbilt Cup race. The ‘People’s Choice’, chosen by the nearly 2,000 attendees, was a very original 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ owned by Robert and Renee Torre. A true time capsule, it captivated the enthusiastic crowd.
The next Audrain’s Concours d’Elegance will be held on Sunday, October 4th as a part of the 2020 Concours & Motor Week beginning October 1st.