By EVAN MCMULLEN
SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER
The storm was no Hurricane Ivan, but the organizers of this year’s Kirkland Concours d’Elegance still had a weather-related decision to make.
Because they had more than $100 million worth of automotive history in their care, the deliberations were brief: As the first raindrops dappled Carillon Point, the breathtaking array of vehicles wheeled quickly and quietly indoors.
Inside or out, the display earlier this month was probably the most impressive in Pacific Northwest car-show history — amazing, considering this was only the second year of this event.
Sponsored by the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz and staged by event Chairman Tom Armstrong and Woodmark Hotel General Manager Marc Nowak, the Kirkland Concours has risen quickly to the top of the Northwest’s increasingly rich automotive events calendar, establishing a reputation as the Northwest’s answer to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The event is attracting entries from some of the world’s most well-known classic-car people — including Seattle’s “Monterey Mob,” a congregation of judges, collectors and exhibitors who tour the annual Pebble Beach and Monterey circuit each August. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, these Northwest autoscenti and their prize cars now converge in Kirkland for a season-ending soiree that serves as the official homecoming and close of summer competition.
This year’s Concours featured a panoply of noteworthy classics and historic race cars, from the event’s featured Duesenberg and Jaguar marques to an unexpectedly strong field of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadsters and gull-wings, Ferraris, Bugattis, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and others.
Seattle collector Charlie Morse won “Best of Show” and “European Classics” awards with his 1938 Bugatti T-57C Atalante Coupe — additions to a pedigree that includes previous Pebble Beach awards.
Unsurprisingly, the featured marques were extremely well-represented among this year’s winners, with the largest display ever of Duesenberg J’s in one place (19 in all) perhaps since their manufacture in the 1930s. John Mozart’s 1930 Duesenberg J Murphy Speedster won the Most Elegant (Open Competition) prize, Miles Collier’s 1935 Duesenberg SSJ (formerly Gary Cooper’s) took the Participants’ Choice honors and the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce Award went to Arturo Keller’s breathtaking 1932 Duesenberg SJ B&S Coupe. Mozart’s Speedster also captured the Duesenberg category award. Mozart, Collier, and Keller are all from California.
Jaguars were everywhere on the prowl. Particularly ferocious predators included Vintage Racing Motors’ winning 1956 D-Type Racer, which won the Jaguar racing category, and local franchise owner Al Monjazeb’s “supercar of the future” — a very rare, mint-condition XJ220, which was shown locally for the first time. The Evergreen Hospital Award went to Ken McBride’s 1949 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster, proudly flanked by Doris Hart’s 1938 SS100 in the Jaguar (Production) category.
The Ferrari category was topped by a 1967 Ferrari 275 Nart Spyder belonging to Jon Shirley of Seattle, and Jim Clark’s 1947 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa won the Children’s Hospital Award.
Other treats included vintage watercraft, including four gorgeous wooden runabouts displayed by Dave Lobb of Northwest Classic Boat; vintage motorcycles; and, of course, more nifty cars — a striking assortment of Porsche 356 varieties and a selection of prewar domestics that included a 1909 Oldsmobile and a 1919 Simplex Crane, courtesy of the Harold LeMay Museum collection.
All proceeds from the Kirkland Concours benefit Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and Evergreen Health Care.