The Real Haute Cars of Orange County

It had all the makings of a Miss Universe pageant.  Italian beauties, German models, and sleek British bodies lined the field, drawing the stares of ogling guests while competing for the top prize, and its obligatory walk across the awards platform for a winning sash.  But when the proceedings of the 29th annual Dana Point Concours d’Elegance drew to a close last Sunday, only one car could claim best in show, and that was the Nethercutt Collection’s French looker, a 1931 Bugatti Type 51 (pictured above).

Wearing coachwork by Louis Dubos that seemingly foreshadowed the design of the more heralded and famously expensive Type 57 Atlantic, the Nethercutt’s Type 51 was originally a Bugatti factory racecar that was bequeathed in 1931 to the great prewar grand prix driver Louis Chiron.  At some point the car was re-bodied, so after purchasing it in 2000, the Sylmar, CA-based Nethercutt reunited the chassis with its original body, the results of which obviously speak for themselves.

Long known as the Newport Beach Concours d’Elegance, Orange County’s most prestigious classic car show was renamed last year for the Monarch Beach Golf Links-locale that has hosted the event since 2008.  The course is nestled on a seaside stretch of Dana Point owned by the St. Regis Resort, which claims to be California’s only Forbes 5-Star and AAA Diamond resort.  The setting’s Tuscan architecture and gently rolling greens provided an ideal backdrop for the concours d’elegance, which this year celebrated the 125th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz and the 50th birthday of Jaguar’s classic E-Type sports car (pictured below).

The Nethercutt Collection also won best in the Antique and Vintage Class with their 1913 Mercedes-Benz 37/95 Double Phaeton Torpedo (pictured above).  As the featured marque of the concours, Mercedes-Benz enjoyed support from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in nearby Irvine, as well as the offerings of local collectors, like the famed William Lyon Family collection, which presented this stunning 1937 540K Special Roadster (below), one of only 25 produced.

The Lyon Collection also won the Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Class with this beautiful 1935 Duesenberg Speedster, rumored to be the last Duesey built.

The Catherine Thyen Award went to the 1956 Continental Mark II Coupe owned by Congressman John Campbell, the representative for California’s 48th District, who also served as one of the concours’ honorary judges.

The Design Achievement Award (Closed) went to Robert Aldridge’s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB, an early shortnose version of the iconic grand touring berlinetta.

The Design Achievement Award (Open) was won by Peter and Cheryl Dunkel’s 1955 Porsche RS 550 Spyder, pictured here in the foreground.

This unusual hood mascot belongs to Mrs. James Edwards’ 1931 Packard 833 Roadster, which took home Meguiar’s “Finish Fantastique” Award.

The Elegance Award, Prewar, went to Peter Mullin’s 1938 Delahaye 145 Coupe.

Best in Sports Cars under 3 liters was this 1959 AC Bristol, owned by Crevier Classic Cars.

Best in Sports Cars over 3 liters went to Bud and Stephanie Bourassa’s 1963 Apollo 3500 Coupe, which I also featured in last week’s blog.

Though not winning any awards, the following unusual eye-catching beauties got plenty of attention:

1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, owned by Gregory and Debbie Johnson

1966 Bizzarrini P-538 LeMans Roadster, owned by Richard and Pat Wesselink

1956 DeSoto Adventurer, owned by Malcolm and Steve Schneer

1949 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan, owned by Jerry Bieser

1973 AC 428, owned by Dave Robertson

1980 BMW M1, owned by Frank Fahey

1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, owned by Steven Adler

1953 Glasspar Sports Racer, owned by Jerry Wood