One of southeast Michigan’s favorite car events is under new management, with plans for a blockbuster show this summer and growth — and a bigger digital footprint — in the future.
Concours d’Elegance of America, the July car show that draws vehicles and visitors from around the country, has been acquired by Hagerty Group, the world’s largest insurer of classic cars and wooden boats.
This year’s Concours is scheduled for July 23-25 on the rolling grounds of the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, just west of Detroit.
“I believe in the mythic status of Detroit” in global automotive culture, said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the Traverse City-based insurer. “I don’t see this as one Sunday in the summer. It’s a year-round connection with Detroit and the car community.
“We also want to knit it together with other events around the country and world. What more can we do with the Henry Ford Museum, M1 Concourse and other attractions?”
Hagerty’s resources also will bolster the show’s digital presence and add categories and events to attract young people.
“How do we bring the next generation in” to the collector car community?” Hagerty asked. “Our purpose as a company is to save driving and car culture. We want to lower the barriers for people who want to participate.”
The plan may include a year-round digital presence, potentially with videos full of information about cars at the event, or a ‘digital hall of fame,’ Hagerty said.
A summer ‘tapestry’ of events
In recent years, the Concours had reached out to museums, private collectors and automotive companies and suppliers in the Detroit area. It became an unofficial kickoff to a month of automotive events that culminated with the Woodward Dream Cruise in late August.
“We’re excited about working with the other summer events,” Hagerty said. “This should be part of a tapestry of events.”
The Concours didn’t take place in 2020, due to COVID-19 concerns, and the Dream Cruise was scaled back substantially. Concours planners believe they’ll be able to put on a full schedule, including tributes to Ford designer Moray Callum and car collector John Cassini, thanks to the show’s presence on St. John’s golf course.
“Concours” is a French word that’s used for shows where classic cars are displayed and frequently evaluated for awards. The official show, which draws thousands of spectators and hundreds of vehicles, takes place Sunday. The rest of the weekend is occupied with everything from an endurance race for clunkers to tours of southeast Michigan attractions, cars and coffee and other events.
The Concours raises money for a variety of southeast Michigan groups.
“Our strategic plan was to use Michigan’s automotive heritage to be one of the country’s premier auto shows,” Concours chairman and longtime executive Larry Moss said. “We’re excited about Hagerty. With 3 million social media followers and a magazine read by 2 million, they have incredible communication capabilities.”
From ‘Jet Age’ cars to historic motorcycles
A lot of Concours car events are as stuffy as the fancy French name suggests, but Concours of America hangs its hat on bringing together a wide variety of vehicles and interests. This year will be no different.
The show’s theme will be “The Essence of Beauty and Speed,” as had been planned for 2020.
Vehicle categories will include:
- A celebration on 1970 and ’71 muscle cars.
- One-of-a-kind vehicles from leading southeast Michigan private car collections.
- “100-point classics,” vehicles that got the Classic Car Club of America’s highest rating at other leading shows.
- “1960s Jet Age Classics,” including the 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, Chevrolet Impala convertible, Chrysler Imperial and Buick Electra 225.
- 15 historic motorcycles illustrating the vehicle’s evolution.
- Super cars.
- Modern classics.
- Wedge design, including Triumph TR8, Lotus Esprit, Lamborghini Countach, DeLorean and Panera.
“We want to appeal to everybody,” Moss said. “We’ll have cars you’ll never see anywhere else.”
For more information, visit the Concours website at https://concoursusa.org.