Car Show Classics: The 2014 Misselwood Concours d’Elegance


I recently made a day trip up to the coastal town of Beverly, MA for the 5th annual Misselwood Concours d’Elegance. Despite only being about half an hour north of Boston, I never heard of Misselwood until about a month ago. I didn’t know what to expect, although having “Concours d’Elegance” in the title usually is a good indicator that older, rarer cars will be present.

While by no means a large-scale extravaganza, Misselwood did indeed offer up plenty of rare sights, several I was proud to witness in person for the first time. There was a little of everything, ranging from a 1920s Bentley, all the way up to modern Porsches and a Ferrari. I even saw a new cherry-red Jaguar F-Type convertible in the parking lot. If you think those new Jags look great in pictures, in person they’re even better. New lust object indeed. But today is not about parking lot finds, it’s time we get started with the cars actually on display.


As mentioned, the oldest vehicle present at Misselwood was this late-1920s Bentley. I’ll be honest when I say I don’t have a huge interest in these cars, which is why I didn’t stop at it for too long.


Representing the U.S.A was this beautifully restored 1929 Peerless Six-61 roadster. On the running board, was a photo of its former rusted-out shell. I think Peerless just may be the only car company in history to stop producing cars in favor of beer.


One of the most beautiful American pre-war cars was the Packard Super Eight. I couldn’t help but spend a couple of minutes just staring at this 1933 example.


Largely due to the 1/18 scale 1929 Packard LeBaron model that’s been part of my collection for at least 10 years, it exhibits all the styling traits I usually associate with cars from this era.


With the same large radiator grille, dual “gullwing” hoods, rectangular hood vents, running board mounted spare tires with rear view mirrors perched atop, luggage rack, it was really like seeing one of my favorite car models come to life.


Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy may get all the attention as far as hood ornaments go, but as far as I’m concerned it has nothing on Packard’s elegant swan.


No car show would be complete without a Cadillac, and Misselwood had several. The most wonderful had to be this 1940 Fleetwood Series 75 convertible sedan. After arriving a little late to the show, the owner decided to to take up a spot away from the other cars and overlooking the Atlantic, making for a majestic backdrop to photograph this majestic vehicle.


One of only 45 produced, I overheard the owner telling another man that the original owner was a woman who was one of GM’s largest shareholders at the time. From what it sounded like, her family’s company was some kind of supplier to GM. Despite this, she wanted to remain discreet about the kind of car she drove, and originally had all Cadillac badging and emblems removed.


I would’ve liked to have spoken personally with the owner, as I was curious to find out more about its history, however he was still speaking to the same gentleman for about 20 minutes. I didn’t want to be rude and cut in. Regardless, it was a treat to stand back and take in this car and the view.

While Germany’s automobile industry (any pretty much everything else) was wiped out by the war, by the early ’50s automobile production was back swing with cars like this ritzy 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 four-door cabriolet. Looking handsome in a grayish-blue shade, these cars were popular enough with West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer to earn the nickname “Adenauer Mercedes”.


1954 300s received several updates including front vent windows, vacuum-assisted power brakes, and added horsepower to their standard SOHC I6 for a total of 123!


As the largest and most expensive Benzes of their day, the 300 didn’t skimp on luxury. That dashboard is most exquisite, with its large expanse of polished wood. My mother’s 2013 GLK350 tries to evoke this look, with an expansive piece of burl walnut going from steering wheel to passenger door. However modern cars only use wood veneer, not solid wood like on this car.


The 300 looks equally stately from the rear, with its pontoon fenders and generous chrome trim. I wouldn’t want to try to back up in one of these though. That cabriolet roof blocks rear visibility quite a bit.


Not to be unrepresented against the boys from Stuttgart, this extremely rare 502 cabriolet from BMW offered a nice comparison of these two rival’s flagships. Built for BMW by Baur, the 502 cabriolet was only sold for 1954 and 1955.


Succeeding the similar 501 in 1954, the 502 featured the first V8 engine in a post-WWII German car, a 2,580cc all-alloy OHV unit rated at 100 hp. Although it made less power than the Mercedes’ I6, the smaller and lighter 502 was reportedly Germany’s fastest regular production sedan at the time (160 km/h, 100 mph).


Moving back across the Atlantic and into the 1960s, I stopped to check out some Ford products like this ’66 Mustang hardtop…


…or this ’64 Thunderbird coupe that would’ve made Thelma and Louise proud. Much like Tom, this generation T-Bird is likely my favorite. It’s lines are sharp, with aggression up front and a graceful, tapering rear.


Their interiors were beautifully designed and high quality. It’s a shame that in only a decade’s time Ford would go ugly, cheap, and tacky with hard plastic and phony wood interiors in the T-Bird.


I honestly think a Thunderbird like this would make a great classic to cruise around in during the warmer months. It has distinctive styling, isn’t unreasonably large, and isn’t as common a a Mustang (not to mention the fact that it sits four comfortable). If I were in the market, however, it would have to be the convertible.


I particularly like the ’64s with “THUNDERBIRD” spelled out on the hood.


1964 would be the first year that dual winged thunderbirds would adorn the taillights. One of the T-Bird’s several lasting styling touches, it brings back memories of the teal ’95 Thunderbird one of my mom’s best friends owned when I was little.


Although I’ve already published a lengthy piece on it, I can’t share my day at this show without at least one good picture of this beautiful 1956 Imperial Southampton. This was easily my favorite car of the show!


For a little more Germanic flair, there was this clean-looking W113 Mercedes 280SL. Although rather plainly styled in comparison with both the iconic W198 the preceded it and every future SL to follow, its simplicity is rather refreshing, especially compared to the current R231 SL.


This particular white SL is likely a 1970 model, due to several 1970MY cosmetic changes, and the very limited production for 1971, the W113’s final year. With a 2.8L I6 under the hood, the 280 offered the highest displacement of the three engines available over the course of the W113’s production.


Rated at 170 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque in Germany (U.S. models outputs were reduced slightly), this car was by no means the 621-horsepower SL 65 AMG of its day. Still, with the car’s small size and low curb weight, performance was adequate enough for the times. Four and five-speed manual transmissions were offered, although this one had Mercedes’ four-speed automatic, which was found in the majority of US-bound W113s.


Luxury is another aspect that has been greatly enhanced with each generation of the SL. The interior of this 1970 SL is spartan compared to any Mercedes of recent memory. Just the basics, and the enjoyment of the opened top driving experience.


Similarly sized, yet much more family-oriented in mission was this Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina. With an expansive greenhouse, its boxy, upright styling was a huge contrast to the low, cavernous Broughams produced in the U.S. at this time.


I’m not sure how many of these were imported to the U.S.A., but I’m sure that the majority of them have long rusted away.


Just a few cars down was this 1974 BMW 3.0 CS.


Only 375 of the 3.0 CS were imported to the U.S. in 1974, and this one is even rarer because of its Alpina modifications.


The Alpina upgrades continued into the interior, with heavily bolstered sport buckets, and teal accent stripe.


Before leaving, I caught one more area where a large congregation of Porsches had assembled.

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With Porsches of every decade, including every generation of 911. It was really quite a sight.


This early 911 looks absolutely tiny compared to current 911, which is some 10 inches longer.


Although it’s hard to single out any generation 911 as my favorite, this beautiful “993” 911 Carrera 4 from 1994 really takes me back. I would definitely take this one as my daily driver.


Misselwood turned out to be a great show. There were of course, a few other interesting cars I saw, but I omitted them from this showcase as I plan on writing individual posts on them. So, stay tuned, the best is yet to come.