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Meadow Brook concours crowns 1939 Delahaye and 1934 Packard best of show

Rafay Ansar

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Two long-gone luxury liners, a 1939 Delahaye and a 1934 Packard, won best of show honors Sunday at the 30th Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, standing out from a field of 250 pristine cars from bygone eras on a sun-drenched afternoon of nostalgia in suburban Detroit.

The Delahaye 165 Cabriolet by Figoni & Falaschi won in the European category, while the Packard V-12 Sport Sedan by Dietrich, a ghost of Detroit's luxury car-making past, returned to grab top honors among the American products.

The Delahaye, a drop-dead gorgeous maroon showpiece dripping in chrome and set off with yellow headlights, also won the People's Choice award. It's from the Peter Mullin Automotive Foundation. Delahaye was a French luxury car company that disappeared after World War II.

The stately Packard had 160 hp and was from collection of Ray Scherr. It was an encore victory for him, as his 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider Touring also won best of show in the European class in 2007.

A 1938 Brough Superior SS-100 owned by Jack Wells won best of show in the motorcycle field.

Though plenty of awards were given out, the event was also about enthusiasts reveling in museum-quality cars rarely seen on public streets, including Duesenbergs, Cords and Auburns. Cadillacs, Lincolns and elaborate Chryslers also were featured prominently.

But organizers have made an effort to diversify the concours from simply old cars, and this year it had a field of about a dozen drag racers from the early days of the sport. Indeed, one of the afternoon's highlights was when many of the drag cars fired their engines--emitting deafening growls and a haze of exhaust to the delight of the crowd.

As usual, the show had many themes. Fins and Chrome: The Convertibles of 1959, drew plenty of interest, as a pink Cadillac and white Thunderbird were two of the more striking exhibits. The “Swoopy Coupes” display illustrated the lines and stylings of cars from another time, including a dramatic 1941 Lincoln Zephyr.

In a show of support for its beleaguered hometown car companies, Meadow Brook honored General Motors, Ford and Chrysler with a “Best of Detroit” theme, and about 90 cars from the Big Three were on display.

There was also a trio of orange McLarens, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the company and its many racing exploits, including the 1974 car Johnny Rutherford drove to victory in the Indianapolis 500.

Perhaps the ultimate ghost car at the show was a 1967 Ferrari 330 P3/4 Spyder owned by Hollywood director-turned car guy James Glickenhaus. Officially, this red racer wearing chassis No. 0846 was scrapped by Ferrari after being damaged in crashes. But the car on display might have the tube frame chassis and other components from the original, which won the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours. Its case is bolstered by damage marks on the frame and race inspection marks from Le Mans.

Ferrari made these rare cars in direct response to Ford's overwhelming 1966 Le Mans triumph. The car at Meadow Brook had the body of a P3, but was modified to hold the engine of a P4--hence the name.

Less controversial was another Glickenhaus car, a bright yellow Ferrari Dino 206 Competizione, which also attracted plenty of attention.

Other headliners included a rare 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, which made its North American debut at the concours, a 1954 Fiat 8V Supersonic and a 1911 Hupmobile. A 1934 Packard owned by AutoWeek Editorial Director Keith Crain was also among the honorees.

Organizers were hoping for a crowd of 10,000, the record-tally drawn last year, and the turnout appeared to be strong. It's held in the shadow of Meadow Brook Hall, a 1920s castle-like structure that's the former residence of Matilda Dodge Wilson, the widow of auto pioneer John Dodge.

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