There’s all types of music lovers and there’s all types of car lovers. While one music lover’s best night ever might be a Justin Bieber Concert at Staples Center another music lover’s best night ever could be The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Same goes for car lovers and car shows. You might love the new rollouts at the LA Auto Show or, perhaps the classics are more your speed… the types that are very, very rare and even more expensive. You won’t find those types of cars at your typical auto show. Nope, those are for special events like the annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance. iDriveSoCal’s Professor, Clinton Quan attends every year. In this podcast the Professor takes us to concours school and we try to keep it as elegant as we can.
Recording date – April 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA
Clinton Quan: In a Concours d’Elegance you would usually find vehicles from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It is a competition of elegance, so those are considered the most elegant cars, classic cars. vehicles that most people nowadays would not be familiar with. There are a number of vehicles that come from either private collections or some of the automotive museums. This particular vehicle, the way that it’s customized, it’s about $3.4 million. The venue is a spectacular setting with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop and right there along the La Jolla coastline.
Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States–Southern California. I’m Tom Smith, and we are sitting with “the Professor”, Mr. Clinton Quan. Say hello, Clinton.
Clinton Quan: Hello. Hi, Tom.
Tom Smith: Hello. And today we have a piece that we’re doing on–and I’m going to have a lot of fun with pronunciation, here guys–Concours d’Elegance, from La Jolla, California. And that’s coming from a Chicago guy which would normally be like concours de d’Elegance in La Yola, CA. But seriously, folks, the Concours, I believe, Clinton is going to give us the correct pronunciation in just a second. But this…and he just told me it’s French for “competition of elegance.”.
Clinton Quan: Yes.
Tom Smith: And it’s a car show that Clinton went to in La Jolla down, which is just north of San Diego, right?
Clinton Quan: La Jolla is a community in the city of San Diego.
Tom Smith: It is within San Diego. Okay.
Clinton Quan: Yes.
Tom Smith: So for those of you that don’t know, super nice cars in a super nice setting. I believe years ago, you and I, when I was just dating my now wife, didn’t we double date to one of these at the Trump International Golf Course years ago?
Clinton Quan: Yes, I believe. Yeah.
Tom Smith: Okay.
Clinton Quan: And that was the…
Tom Smith: That was years ago.
Clinton Quan: Yeah. That was a different Concours d’Elegance.
Tom Smith: But… So I know, for point of reference, this is a very, very nice car show. Are they always outside?
Clinton Quan: A Concours d’Elegance always takes place outside, usually in a park like setting or on a golf course.
Tom Smith: And this is not where you’re going to find the traditional hot rod, chopped up, low rider, American muscle car necessarily. There might be like a Cobra or something muscle-ish, but it’s not… It’s more for what type of car?
Clinton Quan: In a Concours d’Elegance you would usually find vehicles from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It is a competition of elegance, so those are considered the most elegant cars, classic cars. You’ll see a lot of Packards and Duesenbergs, Auburns, Cords [SP], Delahayes, Bugattis, vehicles that most people nowadays would not be familiar with.
Tom Smith: Yeah, and at the same time, that not only most people wouldn’t be familiar with but most people wouldn’t be able to come remotely close to buy because we’re talking about the… I mean many of these cars are in the, not just million dollar range but millions, right?
Clinton Quan: Oh, yes, easily. Many of these vehicles, these are collector vehicles, and they would easily be worth millions of dollars today.
Tom Smith: And not just kind of collector but like mega money collector, right?
Clinton Quan: Absolutely.
Tom Smith: So folks, as always, by the time this podcast is released, we’ll have some pictures on the website at idrivesocal.com. Definitely check them out. And I gave Clinton a forewarning. In this one, I was going to tease him a little bit about his outfit. And I love his costumes he wears. Clinton’s just as snazzy guy; he’s got some style. I was thinking about this earlier. For those of you that are gonna know this reference, I know you will, Clinton, because we’re close to the same age. So I’ve nicknamed Clinton “the Professor”, and if you put this in “Gilligan’s Island” terms, it’s not the Professor that he’s dressed like at these Concours. He’s more dressed like Thurston Hall III. He’s got the white pants and the navy blazer and then the white fedora with the thing. And the only thing you’re missing is the ascot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you have quite a selection of ascots somewhere in your…whatever, your dressing room that you have. Do you have ascots? Just curious.
Clinton Quan: Actually, I do not.
Tom Smith: Oh, you don’t! [crosstalk] All right. All right. So “the Professor” doesn’t have any ascots, but, nevertheless, check out the pictures. And you are in front of some phenomenal cars. I mean…and the one car where he’s…the hot pink. What is that? What is that?
Clinton Quan: That’s actually a Ruxton from the Petersen Automotive.
Tom Smith: Oh, really? All right, that’s cool. I had a talk with Terry Karges over there.
Clinton Quan: Yeah, usually, at these concours, there are a number of vehicles that come from either private collections or some of the automotive museums in Southern California, which there are so many.
Tom Smith: And that particular car–and, folks, please, do yourself a favor, check this out on the website, again, idrivesocal.com. We’re going to have this one and Clinton in front of this hot pink… What is it like a 1920s, 1930s? It’s got the rumble seats. [crosstalk]
Clinton Quan: I believe it’s from the 1930s.
Tom Smith: And is that factory color? Did they have that color back then?
Clinton Quan: I believe it was.
Tom Smith: That’s crazy.
Clinton Quan: If you look at a lot of the cars from back then, you’ll see a lot of bold, vibrant, bright colors that you wouldn’t see in today’s vehicles, at least not as a standard color.
Tom Smith: Right, out of the factory. Something that you know you or I, or someone with a lot of money, “Hey, I’m going to get this. I’m going to do a fluorescent green or purple,” or whatever craziness. So the other car that we’re definitely going to have on the website is the…I believe it’s the Bugatti Chiron.
Clinton Quan: It’s the new Bugatti Chiron. This particular vehicle, the way that it’s customized, it’s about $3.4 million.
Tom Smith: $3.4 million. And this thing looks right out of a sci-fi movie. It’s like, okay, where’s the button to get it like hovering and taking off flying car style because…
Clinton Quan: It’s got 1500 horsepower.
Tom Smith: 1500 horsepower.
Clinton Quan: 16 cylinders, quad turbochargers.
Tom Smith: Quad turbochargers.
Clinton Quan: Zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds.
Tom Smith: Is there anything that does 0 to 60…and it’s street legal?
Clinton Quan: Yes, it is street legal. Yeah, it starts at just a tick under 3 million depending on how you option. Now it could probably go up to $4 million.
Tom Smith: Right. You know, I’ve got a couple of them in my garage, but they’re way in the back. I don’t really get to those too often. I’m usually taking out the Yugos before that and then the Gremlins. So at any rate, folks, if you haven’t been to a Concours d’Elegance, definitely check one out because they’re super cool. And there’s a whole structure to them, which Clinton’s going to detail, and it’s pretty interesting. But before we even get to the structure, is there like official criteria for this type of car show in order for it to be labeled a Concours d’Elegance?
Clinton Quan: Generally there are certain criteria for a Concours d’Elegance. A lot of the vehicles, they are by invitation. If it’s not invitation, there’s probably a committee which will…they will look at the vehicle probably or they will look to see what you’re bringing before you’re allowed to bring the vehicle.
Tom Smith: Oh my gosh.
Clinton Quan: A Concours d’Elegance is not just any type of car show. It’s not like a Cars and Coffee or it’s not like a new car show. These are really cars that are considered the cream of the crop. So there isn’t…every Concours d”Elegance, there’s an award ceremony and…
Tom Smith: After… I’m still trying to get over the invitation. So we’re going to be a committee… I mean these are people that aren’t worried about paying their bills and haven’t liked for probably five generations, right? Because we’re going to have a committee that sits around and kicks the ideas around, “Should we or shouldn’t we invite old Marion P. and their five gazillion dollar vehicle, invite them to display at our car show?” I mean I’m surprised that the time that you and I went, that I was actually let in. I do remember it being a pretty expensive ticket. I want to say it was like 80 bucks or 180 bucks or something like that for one ticket. [crosstalk]
Clinton Quan: That’s probably for two tickets. That was for two tickets unless it was a VIP ticket.
Tom Smith: So and also, conversely to Cars and Coffee, which is, “Hey, come on in, check it out and maybe buy a cup of coffee for a buck or two,” this is an entirely different proposition. Are these always open to the public or sometimes are they private?
Clinton Quan: These are always open to the public. There’s always general admission tickets at every event. At most events there’s probably a VIP level ticket as well. A Concours d’Elegance always takes place on a Sunday. It usually starts either at 9:00 or 10:00, and it will end at 4:00 o’clock,and the award ceremony starts at 2:00 o’clock. It usually takes about two hours to get through all of the awards. There’s generally about 20 different classes of vehicles, and third, second, and first place winners. All the award winning vehicles, especially the first place vehicles, they drive up to the stage, and they’ll receive a special award. On top of that, there are usually a number of special awards such as People’s Choice award, obviously, Best of Show. There might be Best Paint Job, Most Elegant, I believe.
Tom Smith: This kind of [inaudible] you’re talking best to show, the first thing I think of is a Westminster Dog Show broadcast on Thanksgiving or whatever. I mean it’s kind of a similar thing, right?
Clinton Quan: You could say that…
Tom Smith: Formatically speaking. [crosstalk] But this is for cars.
Clinton Quan: Yeah. And what makes these events so special is that it’s only once a year for one day. It’s not like going to the L.A. Auto Show that runs for two weeks, right? So this is only once a year, and it’s for one day.
Tom Smith: It’s a special thing. It is a very special thing. I shouldn’t joke quite so much about it, but it is…there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance to that like this isn’t the kind of…the structure that Clinton just said. “Okay, well this usually has to happen between this time and this time.” Okay so what 80s cover band played outside?
Clinton Quan: Well, [crosstalk]. This is an elegant affair. There was a live jazz band.
Tom Smith: Of course, of course spread. I’m surprised it wasn’t a full symphony…symphony orchestra that is. So that is the… Now tell us about your experience.
Clinton Quan: Well, I got there early and, usually, for car shows like this, I like to get there early so I can take really nice photos before the public gets in, so I got there about an hour before it started.
Tom Smith: Before the public gets in. Oh because you’re going on behalf of iDrive?
Clinton Quan: Yes. Usually, the media is allowed access an hour beforehand.
Tom Smith: Right. I mean, of course, you’re going on behalf of iDrive. What a silly assumption for me.
Clinton Quan: But there are times, for other car shows, the public is allowed to get there early as well.
Tom Smith: All right. So you got there early, got all your pictures.
Clinton Quan: Took a number of photos.
Tom Smith: Of course. Of which we’ll share a couple on idrivesocal.com.
Clinton Quan: Yes. And the way a concours works is they have all the cars grouped in all the different classes, so if there’s 20 different classes of cars, you’ll have 20 different groups arranged throughout the field. The La Jolla Concours takes place at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. Beautiful venue, you have the picturesque setting along the La Jolla coastline. Perfect day, clear blue skies, you couldn’t have asked for better weather.
Tom Smith: Perfect.
Clinton Quan: And on top of that there was an Aston Martin champagne and honey tasting garden. And this year they had three Aston Martins on display.
Tom Smith: Champagne and honey tasting garden?
Clinton Quan: Yes. So three Aston Martins included, a Tom Brady edition of the Aston Martin Vanquish convertible.
Tom Smith: What does a Tom Brady…I’m sorry. [crosstalk] Champagne and a honey tasting and a Tom Brady…
Clinton Quan: Designed by Tom Brady.
Tom Smith: Okay, so it’s got like his number or something embroidered on the headrest or…?
Clinton Quan: I think it was his initials on the…
Tom Smith: Were the tires completely inflated?
Clinton Quan: Let’s see, they were black. I think it was black. I’m not sure what type of coating that they had on the wheels but…
Tom Smith: It would have won Best of Show, but the commissioner took it away because the tires weren’t totally inflated.
Clinton Quan: Yes. Just kidding. Also, the two new Aston Martins, the DB11 convertible and the new Vantage were on display.
Tom Smith: Nice.
Clinton Quan: And on top of that, there was also a VIP lounge. There were, I believe, 16 restaurants at the lounge.
Tom Smith: Okay. Plenty of good food [crosstalk].
Clinton Quan: Plenty of good food and craft cocktails.
Tom Smith: Craft cocktails and champagne and honey tasting. How does one taste champagne and honey? I’m just curious.
Clinton Quan: Well, there’s a separate…
Tom Smith: Do you put the honey in the champagne?
Clinton Quan: No, no, there’s a separate booth for the honey tasting.
Tom Smith: There’s a jar of honey, everybody just comes up, dips their pinky finger, not their index finger but their pinky finger…
Clinton Quan: No, no, no.
Tom Smith: …in the community jar of honey and then…
Clinton Quan: That’s not how it works. Absolutely not. There’s someone there, and she’ll give you a stick for each [crosstalk] jar of honey that you would like to taste.
Tom Smith: Don’t dip your pinky finger into a community jar of honey. That would be ridiculous. I’m sorry, I just…for some reason… These shows are really cool. I mean the cars are phenomenal.
Clinton Quan: Yeah. In fact, a lot of people would say the cars that are at these shows they are in better condition now, some people would say, than when they were brand new.
Tom Smith: When they rolled off the assembly line.
Clinton Quan: Quite impressive.
Tom Smith: You know, that is a really cool thing about some of these cars, and I’ve done some podcasts recently, the Automobile Driving Museum, the Marconi Automotive Museum, of course, the Petersen Automotive Museum. And you know, even though I started iDriveSoCal out of appreciation for all things automotive and mobility, I’ve learned to appreciate an even higher level of respect for the vehicles because some of these things are truly works of art on wheels. And a couple of the people that I spoke with from the museums during the podcast, they pointed out that you know, “Hey, we are in charge of these for now, for our lifetime, but these cars are going to live on like other works of art after us,” right? And for future generations and that’s like, okay, you know that’s a significant thing. And that’s really neat. Well, excellent. So and you’ve been to this one numerous times.
Clinton Quan: I’ve been to this one numerous times. This is actually now my favorite Concours d’Elegance in Southern California. It’s also been named one of the top three most anticipated concours to attend by the British magazine, “Octane”. It’s just a fantastic car show.
Tom Smith: What makes this one so special?
Clinton Quan: The the quality of the cars first and foremost. Again, the venue is a spectacular setting with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop and right there along the La Jolla coastline. The organization, the organizers are just… they know how to run an event.
Tom Smith: Top notch affair across the board.
Clinton Quan: It’s a very, very well-organized event. In order to have a great concours, you got to have a lot of sponsors, and you can tell there are a lot of sponsors for an event like this.
Tom Smith: Very good. And now what other concours are there on an annual basis, in Southern California, that you would recommend our listeners attend?
Clinton Quan: I would recommend the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, which takes place in either late September or early October. Last year, I believe, was October 1st. This year it will be the last Sunday in September.
Tom Smith: And is that at Trump International yet or is that…that moved, didn’t it?
Clinton Quan: Well, it did move. It’s no longer at Trump Golf Club. It’s taking place at a number of different venues. Actually, last year and this year it’ll take place at Zamperini airport.
Tom Smith: Oh yeah, in Torrance.
Clinton Quan: In Torrance.
Tom Smith: Got it.
Clinton Quan: So what they’ve done last year they revamped it, and they’ve incorporated airplanes.
Tom Smith: Oh, that’s cool. World War II Mustangs and whatnot?
Clinton Quan: Yeah, they have some historic aircrafts on display, and they also have flybys. They actually did the same thing at the La Jolla Concours. There were a number of flybys.
Tom Smith: Okay. So that one and then is there… What other ones are there?
Clinton Quan: There’s also the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance, which is very, very popular because that one is actually complimentary to the public, and it always takes place on Father’s Day. So it’s a great event to go to.
Tom Smith: So that one’s coming up.
Clinton Quan: It’s coming up in June.
Tom Smith: It’ll be my first Father’s Day.
Clinton Quan: There is another car show. It’s not called a Concours d’Elegance, but it is considered a concours type event.
Tom Smith: Of that caliber?
Clinton Quan: Yes, it is. It takes place in San Marino at Lacy Park. It’s called the San Marino Motor Classic, and there’s also an awards ceremony, very, very high quality cars. And this is considered one of the finest car shows in Southern California as well.
Tom Smith: And when does anyone take place?
Clinton Quan: That will take place on…let’s see, that’ll be Sunday, June 10th. So it’s always the second weekend in June.
Tom Smith: So June we got a couple big ones, right? We’ve got the Father’s Day one…
Clinton Quan: June is one of the biggest automotive events…
Tom Smith: Automotive months? [crosstalk]
Clinton Quan: Months for automotive events. There’s also the Huntington Beach Concours d’Elegance that takes place the first weekend in June.
Tom Smith: Okay. Wow. All right. And if we don’t have these on our website already on the events page, we definitely will have them.
Clinton Quan: I believe all of those are on the events page.
Tom Smith: Okay. Clinton is the curator of our events page, so he knows what’s on there better than I do at this point in time.
Clinton Quan: There’s also, coming up this month, there’s also the Benedict Castle Concours. Now that one is not called a Concours d’Elegance because that one features cars of all genres.
Tom Smith: Okay, so you could see a hot rod there, or a low rider, or fill in the blanks.
Clinton Quan: Yeah, you’ll see hot rods, muscle cars, low riders, all types of cars. And that’s a great show. It takes place at Benedict Castle in Riverside, which is a real castle, really interesting venue. This is only the fifth year they’ve done it, so this is a newer show. Also, on that same day, for Ferrari lovers, there is the Concorso Ferrari in old Pasadena and that show is complementary to the public as well. They’ll shut down the street Colorado Boulevard.
Tom Smith: I’m thinking that there’s going to be like one or two. You had more on your list here? Should I…? And by the way, folks, as always, Clinton’s just rattling this stuff off his head. I got a notepad and pen in hand, notepad in front of me. Clinton is just rattling it off. Is that it or are there more?
Clinton Quan: In terms of the major car shows, those are the major ones coming up. There are more but…
Tom Smith: Go to the website, idrivesocal.com/events, find it there. All right very good. Anything else on the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance before we wrap it up?
Clinton Quan: I just want to say that it’s really a fantastic car show. The date’s set for next year. It will be the second weekend in June…I’m sorry, in April again. So if you’ve never been, and you want…even if you’re not a car enthusiast, if you enjoy food…
Tom Smith: Yeah, this is just [crosstalk] elegant event, definitely family friendly. It is a very upscale experience, so even if you don’t like cars, you just like…dressed up…
Clinton Quan: You’re going to have a great time.
Tom Smith: …hoity toity kind of thing, go and have yourself a good old time because it’s that kind of thing.
Clinton Quan: Yeah, I think you’ll be amazed at the level and the quality of the cars you’ll see at the show.
Tom Smith: Excellent. That is, again, the correct pronunciation, Concours d’Elegance in La Jolla, California. And Mr. Clinton Quan, “the Professor’s”, analysis. I’m Tom Smith. This is iDriveSoCal. Until next time, everybody, thanks for listening.