• Frank Oles

Geneva Concours 2016


This was the third year I attended the Geneva Concours, and the consistent high quality of vehicles on display at this show ensures that it will be on my calendar for years to come. Maybe one day I'll even have a vehicle worthy enough to be accepted to display!


This year, some of my favorite vehicles were featured. The Geneva Concours celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Shelby Mustangs (wouldn't that have been last year, since they came out in 1965? - who cares, I love Shelbys and I am not arguing!), the 100th Anniversary of BMW, and the 100th anniversary of the Packard "Twin Sixes. Let's take a look at some of the amazing machines on display this year...

This car stopped me in my tracks. No, it probably wasn’t a numbers matching car - who knows if it was even a real Charger Daytona! But the period custom paint job with heavy bass boat style metal flake metallic lacquer was amazing. The car had the overall patina and paint chips to suggest that this was a real, period custom job. Will people look back on Mk4 Toyota Supras done up in Fast & Furious style with the same affection in 20 years time? I kind of hope so. We can’t go back in time. But we can go back in... car.

There are often some interesting race cars at the Geneva Concours, and this one was no exception. THE famous 1965 Huffaker Genie Mk10B “Vinegaroon”! Well I guess it’s more exciting if you are a race car buff. This car was built for the Hollywood actor Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on the TV Show Bonanza. The chassis was constructed by Joe Huffaker with engine support from Chicago’s famous performance dealership Nickey Chevrolet to race in the Can Am championship. In an age where your car needed to be named after a snake, jungle cat or similar apex predator to be taken seriously, the Vinegaroon was named after a scorpion. After seeing this car in period racing coverage over the years, it was amazing to see this piece of history in person. The vehicle is now owned by the son of one of the original owners of Nickey Chevrolet.

Alfa Romeo had a small booth set up with the 4C and this Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan on display. After reading all the positive reviews and seeing the track tests of this vehicle it was a welcome surprise to see it in person. A high performance sedan with Italian DNA and oodles of carbon fiber - yes please!

For me, this was the most memorable car of the entire show, and it was not even featured in the main exhibition area! This 1935 Auburn “boat tail” Speedster was one of just 150 cars produced between 1935-36. It featured a 280ci in-line supercharged Eight that was good for 150 hp. This particular car was in amazing original condition - one repaint in the 1950s and an original, unrestored interior. My grandfather Clayton (my son is named after him) owned one of these cars - if only he had kept it in the family!

This 1915 Buick had its gleaming Twin Six engine on display, with all 24 of its exposed rocker arms glistening in the sunlight. What’s a twin six? It’s just the early name of a V12, which was simply two 6 cylinder blocks bolted together. This particular car was a prototype, being the only Buick V12 ever constructed. When you open the hood of a modern car, you are greeted by a sea of black plastic covers. It was refreshing to see this throwback to an era when an engine’s craftsmanship was right there out in the open.

Oh boy. If I owned this, I would name him Barney and he would eat back tires all day long.

This custom-bodied 1929 Dixie Roadster represents the birth of the BMW motor company. It also represents the birth of a trend, which was customizing cars! When automobile styling began to become a focus beyond the pure engineering of an automobile, it was not uncommon to purchase the chassis from one manufacturer and send it on to a custom coach builder. In this case, the BMW Dixie roadster was sent off to the firm Ihle for its snazzy boat-tailed bodywork. Although there is no good reference for scale in this photo, the car itself was tiny, which is good because the motor only had 13hp to give, which netted a brisk 50mph top speed.

Wow! A steam-powered Indy Car! The 1960s were truly an era when anything was possible in the automotive realm. This 1969 Indy racer was the dream of Bill Lear. His story is even more amazing than the design of this car - with only an 8th grade education (he was kicked out of high school for making the teachers look dumb!) he received over 150 patents for inventions including the Lear Jet, the car radio, 8-track tapes, jet autopilot and navigational radio. He sold his Lear Jet enterprise and used the proceeds to build and design his true dream - steam-powered vehicles. Unfortunately, the steam turbine design of this 4wd racer had too many problems and the project was scrapped, although the car did tour shows and events as a promotional display piece. Personally, I think it looks a hell of a lot like a life-size pinewood derby racer.

In addition to the trio of amazing 1966 Shelby Mustangs in the title image, there were also a couple of truly special 1966 Shelby Cobras on display including this first and only Shelby AC Cobra 427 racer - CSX 3002. This was the only FIA LeMans Spec Competition Cobra raced by Shelby - most of the Cobra racers used Ford Small Block power, like the Mustangs. To handle the torque of the Big Block engine, the size of the chassis tubing was increased from 3 up to 4 inches all around. Shelby was the American Enzo Ferrari, and the Cobra was his masterpiece. Although the image of the Cobra has been somewhat diluted by the kit car/reproduction industry, when you see the genuine article there in the metal it is truly a sight to behold. Something about the rear wheel did not quite sit right in the rear arch - wondering what the story is there. At any rate, I can only imagine the iron will it must have taken to pilot this snake around the track.

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