'Absurd' variety of carsto be displayed at Concours d'Elegance
The name is French, the head judge is Canadian and some of the most jaw-dropping cars on display will be Italian.
But the Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance has become a distinctly Pacific Northwest tradition.
Now in its 46th year, the 2018 show on Sunday, July 15 will feature more than 300 classic, sport and custom cars, drawing thousands of visitors to the campus of Pacific University, just west of Portland.
This year's event celebrates the passion of Alfa Romeo, which has been an Italian motorsport legend for more than a century and also highlights 100 years of Chevrolet trucks.
Those who attend will find some exotic museum-quality automobiles from around the Pacific Northwest.
One of the oldest cars in the show will come from West Linn, as resident Fred Hall plans to show off his 1936 Pontiac Cabriolet.
"It's a good looking car," Hall said. "It's easy to drive, goes fast, has a lot of power. We've had it since 2000."
To be more precise, Hall bought an old version of the car at an estate sale in 2000 and spent the next year rebuilding it in his garage.
"It's a hobby. My brother and I have been building cars since the '60s," Hall said. "This particular car ended up being a really good car, and I decided to keep it."
And the Pontiac doesn't just stay locked in Hall's garage.
"We drive it — it's been to Canada, been down to California," Hall said. "It's a driver."
This is Hall's first showing at the Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance, and he's excited to see the array of cars that line up next to his.
"I've been wanting to go for a while," he said. "I understand they have some beautiful cars there."
Hall might run into another West Linn resident, William Relyea, who will show his 1951 Jaguar Mark V DHC for the second straight year.
"The car was originally owned by Max Factor (real name Maksymilian Faktorowicz, who founded Max Factor Cosmetics)," Relyea said. "He bought the car for his wife and they'd drive it out for cocktails. It was referred to as the 'martini car.'"
Relyea bought the car in 1993, and he said the history behind this particular model was what drew him to it.
"Only 400 were originally built, and there's probably 50 worldwide in the condition this one is in," Relyea said. "They were all built by hand on a special assembly line for Jaguar."
Relyea is excited to return to the Forest Grove show this year after learning from the judging process in 2017. This time, for instance, he won't lose points for not having a spare tire.
"There were some very menial things I hadn't paid attention to last year," he said. "(But) I really enjoyed it. It's a great crowd, a great showing of cars and certainly an opportunity for people who hadn't ever seen (the Jaguar). People walked by and said, 'Is that really a Jaguar? I've never seen a car that looks like that.'"
The all-volunteer show, produced by the Rotary Club of Forest Grove, is the largest and longest-running Concours d'Elegance in the Pacific Northwest. And with vehicles competing in 50 judged classes, it's considered one of the premier classic car shows on the West Coast. BMW Portland is the 2018 presenting sponsor.
It's the range of cars and enthusiasm of the owners that makes the Forest Grove Concours so appealing to auto aficionados and casual car buffs alike, according to Donald Osbourne, a host of "Jay Leno's Garage" on CNBC, who will again serve as co-emcee of the event.
"The biggest difference between this show and all the other shows I go to is that at this show just about every entrant has a personal story connected to their car," said Osborne, an Editor-at-Large for Sports Car Market magazine who appraises and consults on classic and exotic cars across the United States and Europe. "The passion and the direct connection between the people and their cars is just alive at this show. It's something that people absolutely feed on. It's amazing."
Former head judge Glenn Mounger agrees. "What makes it special here is that it's not a real commercial event," said Mounger, the former chair of the Pebble Beach Concours. "It's more about the hobbyist and the cars."
Keith Martin, the founder of Sports Car Market and co-host of the event, is a big fan of Pacific University's sprawling tree-shaded campus and the layout of the show, which allows visitors to get connect not only with the cars, but their owners.
Those attending the show are often stunned by the quality of the vehicles, the variety of the makes and models on display and the easy interaction with the owners.
"It's overwhelming, the variety of cars is absurd!" said Elliot Hansen. "It's so cool to see pre-war stuff, '40s, '50s, American, European, street cars, race cars. It's overwhelming."
In addition to cars, the 2018 show will feature live music by Portland jazz legend Darrell Grant and his All 4 Naught Trio, with vocalist Danielle Baker.
And the organizers have expanded food options this year, bringing in some local food trucks and will be offering local craft beer from Ridgewalker Brewing Co. And those who want to take home a taste of the Willamette Valley can pick up a bottle (or case) of 2018 Concours Cuvee.
For more information and discounted advance tickets, go to forestgroveconcours.org/
West Linn Tidings reporter Patrick Malee contributed to this report.