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Kirkland Concours adds Fabulous Fifties class

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“Sometimes, when you’re on the field, a Packard will come up and almost run you over, because it’s so quiet,” actor Edward Herrmann said, as he awarded a silver cup to a 1934 Packard at the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance. Herrmann was honorary chairman at the third Washington event.

1934 Packard

But two vintage electric cars upstaged the quiet reputation of the Packard V-12 engine. The ultra-quiet electric vehicles were a 1911 Baker Electric and a 1912 Standard Electric.
Lynn Sommer and his wife, Kathy, have owned the 1911 Baker for five years.

“I was always interested in electric cars, saw the coach style and fell in love with it,” Sommer said. “I was searching for electric cars on the Internet, and saw it there. The car came from north Los Angeles.

“You drive from the back seat; maybe that’s where the phrase came from. Guests face you so you can carry on a conversation.”

The 1912 Standard on display received the Evergreen Healthcare Award, and is part of the LeMay collection.

The Standard Electric Car Co. of Jackson, Michigan, produced a number of electric car models from 1912-’15. They used Westinghouse electric motors.

The opposite side of the spectrum from the electrics was the Best-of-Show winner: a 1913 Isotta Fraschini. The model IM, chassis No. 0452, owned by George Wingard, also was best in class for Antique/Two cylinders (or more) cars. Each time Wingard started the car, all heads turned toward the unmistakable sound of a racing engine come to life.

1913 Isotta-Fraschini racecar

Chassis number 0452 was one of three such racecars built for the 1913-’14 Indy 500 races. Wingard said that the car’s engine served duty in a dirt-track racecar. Wingard reportedly spent 15 years restoring the car. The hood is now original, but during the restoration another rear-end was fabricated. The 450-cid overhead-cam 16-valve, four-cylinder engine was mostly intact — however, the transmission was missing.

The large transmission was integral to the restoration, since it constitutes the chassis cross members. Using blueprints and a loaned Isotta Fraschini KM as a guide, a new transmission was created.

Wingard’s Isotta Fraschini is one of two surviving model IM racecars. Chassis No. 0453 is owned by Britain’s Hillcrest Motor Co.

A new class at this year’s concours saluted the Fabulous Fifties. In the midst of 80 total cars entered, there were 23 cars in this class alone. A 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible owned by Larry and Sherry Swiggert won first in this class. A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, owned by Susan Armstrong, won the Most Elegant Closed award.

In the Special Display, the 1953 Chrysler d’Elegance, owned by Gordon and Janet Apker, won the Participants’ Award (from other entrants). Four other cars were part of the class: a 1948 Tucker sedan; a 1911 Pierce-Arrow 48SS runabout; a 1948 Packard-Fairliner Torpedo convertible; and a 1920 Turcat Mery.

1953 Chrysler d'Elegance

 The 1953 Chrysler d’Elegance featured special bodywork by Ghia. It was the only one of its kind ever built. The three-passenger coupe was mounted onto a slightly modified Chrysler New Yorker chassis. The metallic red car sported a black-and-yellow leather interior, and chrome wire wheels.

The People’s Choice award went to a rare British example: a 1938 Squire Corsica roadster, owned by Doris Hart, and reportedly one of just nine ever made. (The Encyclopedia of Automobiles, by David Burgess Wise, notes that Squire cars were built from 1931 through ’36. No explanation was available for the year disparity.)

The Squire roadsters were built by Adrian Squire in a small garage near Henley-on-Thames, and were potent little cars powered by a supercharged 1.5-liter R1 Anzani engine, backed by a preselector gearbox. They were the exotics of their time.

The event raised about $200,000 for the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, and Evergreen Healthcare in Kirkland.

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