Wagons haul tons of fun to 2012 Concours d'Elegance of American at St. John's
Story and photos by Angelo Van Bogart
For the past several years, car selection committee members Greg Cockerill and Tony Hossain have helped add color and chrome to the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich. (formerly the Meadow Brook Hall Concours d’Elegance). Since the duo’s personal interest lies in cars of the late 1950s and early 1960s, they have dazzled attendees with long, low, lithe American cocktail cruisers that would have made Frank and Dean drool. This year, they hauled in more brightwork and splashed more color than any past year with the Jet-Age Station Wagons class, and the July 29 concours crowd loved it.
“We had a lot of fun watching people [react to the cars],” Cockerill said. “It was a generational thing. A lot of people would look at them and say, ‘We remember them from when we were kids.’ Younger people like my kids would look at them and see how it used to be — it was educational for them. For a lot of people, if you had just said wagons, they would have thought of just stodgy old stuff, but to see the variety of styles and colors featured in that class, I would like to think it was a pleasant surprise to people that knew wagons.”
There’s little question that the late-1950s and early-1960s cars that comprised the class are hot, not just for their flash and flamboyance, but because a growing number of people can relate to them through modern pop culture.
“Between TV shows like ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Pan Am,’ there seems to be a lot of interest in that area,” Cockerill said. “It has been really successful for [the show].”
For this year’s Jet-Age Station Wagon class, Cockerill and Hossain put together a group of 12 vehicles that would have made even June Cleaver and Jane Jetson fight over a winner. The field was composed of a 1,000-point 1957 Chevrolet Nomad loaded with options, a special-order 1961 Chrysler New Yorker, a 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta, 1959 and ’60 Buick station wagons, and examples of the super-rare 1959 Cadillac Broadmoor Hotel Skyview, 1958 Rambler Ambassador hardtop station wagon and 1958 Packard 58L station wagon. Acquiring the diverse selection took more than a year’s worth of planning.
“What Tony and I have done from the beginning, we focus on a theme and then from the theme, we lay out if we were king for a day, what cars would we want?” Cockerill said. “Knowing we have to limit it to 10 or 12 cars, we start looking for what we think are the best ones we can find.”
Their mission was accomplished. Your editor judged the class with former OCW editor Terry Boyce and Susan Sage, a Ford Motor Co. design director of interior and exterior color and materials, and the winners were extremely difficult to determine from the strong field. In the end, John and Lynne Cote’s 1961 Chrysler Town and Country station wagon was awarded Best in Class, while Robert Waldock’s 1959 Cadillac Broadmoor Skyview wagon, Joseph Carfagna’s 1959 LeSabre wagon and Richard Saute’s 1959 Mercury Colony Park each received Lion Awards. If there’s one guarantee for next year, it will be that the color and chrome will return, and judges will have another difficult time determining winners.
“Tony and I have had excellent success with the jet-age theme and doing different twists on it, and it would not be unreasonable to expect some twist on that same time frame for next year,” Cockerill said.
To get updates on the 2013 show, visit www.concoursusa.org.
In the meantime, here are more Jet-Age gems...