2010 Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance – preview

Attention all classic car lovers in the Tri-State Region!  Looking for something to do this weekend?  Then consider this Sunday’s Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance.  Now in its seventh year, the Fairfield Concours has developed into one of the premier collector car exhibitions in the northeastern United States.  This year’s show will highlight the coachwork of Howard “Dutch” Darrin, as well as racecars from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The concours will also celebrate pre-war vehicle aerodynamics with an exhibit titled Styled by the Wind.

One of the most celebrated automotive designers of mid-20th century America, Dutch Darrin is best known for his contributions to Packard, as well as the first production fiberglass automobile, the Kaiser-Darrin sports car of the mid-50s.  Darrin was also one half of the coachbuilding firms Fernandez et Darrin and Hibbard & Darrin, the former of which completed coachwork for a variety of chassis by Delage, Hispano-Suiza and Isotta-Fraschini.  His work will be spotlighted with the display of five significant Packards owned by Ralph Marano.

Equally intriguing is a rare appearance of a 1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom III that was re-bodied in 1947 by Henri Labourdette.  The unique and seldom seen “Vutotal” Cabriolet (pictured above) was originally ordered with a Sedanca de Ville body crafted by Hooper and Co., one of England’s more prolific coachbuilders of Rolls-Royce motorcars.  After running the circuit of the world’s motor shows, including a stop at the famed 1939 New York World’s Fair, the car received decidedly more French coachwork from the Parisian carrossier Labourdette.  Not only did the new design eliminate almost any trace of Rolls heritage, including the company’s trademark upright grille, it also added a boattail rear end, a common feature of Labourdette coachwork.  The only outward remainder of Rolls identity is apparent in the Spirit of Ecstacy, the renowned angelic hood mascot that has adorned Rolls-Royces throughout the manufacturer’s storied history.

Those interested in attending can visit www.fairfieldcountyconcours.com for ticket information.  The concours is held at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, Connecticut, and opens to the public at 10 am on Sunday, September 12.

An example of the work of Howard “Dutch” Darrin:  the 1954 Kaiser-Darrin below was offered at RM Auctions’ 2008 Monterey sale.  Note how the doors of the Glasspar fiberglass body slide forward into the front fenders.