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Classic cars celebrated at 44th Annual Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance

PHOTO BY JOHN M. VINCENT - The 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K won the Best in Show award at the 44th Annual Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance on Sunday. It is owned and was displayed by Thomas and Ronda Taffet of Chatsworth, California. A rare 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K won the coveted Best in Show award at the 44th Annual Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance on Sunday.

The full classic Mercedes convertible is one of just 342 manufactured between 1934 and 1936. It is owned and was displayed by Thomas and Ronda Taffet of Chatsworth, California. It was restored by Tigard resident Jim Friswold.

The Forest Grove Concours held on the campus of Pacific University is one of the most important events of the year for classic car enthusiasts. It is part Cotillion ball and part county fair, as participants socialize, admire classic cars, and the entrants hope for a blue ribbon.

The event is known for its emphasis on elegant cars, and this draws entries from up and down the west coast. Several owners brought vehicles from as far away as southern California and British Columbia, and from all points of Oregon and Washington.

In all, more than 300 cars were on display, covering the available space at Pacific University. Entries ranged from a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle with just 22 miles on the odometer since new to a selection of hot rods, racecars, and custom vehicles. The oldest vehicle at the show was a 1903 Ford “A” horseless carriage brought by Ken Austin of Newberg, Oregon.

This year’s theme was “Allure of the Autobahn,” focusing on German cars, and this yielded a large turnout by the BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen clubs. However, the American brands also showed a strong presence, with several rows of Cadillac, Hudson, DeSoto, Packard, and other domestic classics on display.

A 1932 Ford Standard owned by Terry and Cathy Tindle of McMinnville won the Best Non-Classis Car award, while the Best Open Car trophy went to Larry Swiggart of Sandy. The Best Closed Car award went to the 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II brought by Ed Rittenhouse and Walt Johnsen of Mercer Island, Washington. The Pacific University President’s Award went to Mike and Miles Eshaia of Lake Oswego for their 1955 Porsche 356 convertible.

More than 5,000 fans made the trip to Forest Grove to see the show, and there was a steady flow of spectators throughout the day. Attendees chatted with car owners and exchanged stories until the awards ceremony began.

The Concours is a project of the Forest Grove Rotary Club, and funds the organizations student scholarship and community service programs. In the 44 years of the Concours, the Rotary Club has raised more than $1 million to fund its programs. For 2016, the club awarded over $25,000 to 16 students attending colleges including Pacific University, Portland Community College, the University of Oregon, and Harvard University.