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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

Geneva Concours 2019

On the surface, invitational car shows might seem kind of snobbish. "Oh, my car's not good enough!" you might think. But over the years of visiting shows like the Geneva Concours, I have seen the light. Whether it's an art show exhibit, a car show, or a fashion event, there's only so much you can take in before it all becomes a blur. By expertly curating the cars in attendance, the organizers can paint a unique picture of the automotive landscape, highlighting specific areas of interest... and beauty.

This year, the organizers of the Geneva Concours did a particularly excellent job. Down the main street, there was an excellent collection of "wing cars" - cars from the 50s and 60s with jet-age styling and prominent tail fins as seen in the title image. In the days before wind tunnels and fuel efficiency sucked the life out of car styling, these cars ruled the road and promised an exciting future.

Allard was among the featured marques. These British sports cars were made between 1950 and 1954 ("continuation" models are still manufactured) and imported to the USA without engines. It was common to fit Olds, Cadillac or Chrysler V8 engines. Although they look heavy and brutish, they only weighed around 2000 pounds and they were a bit of a hot rod racer back in the day. Today, they collect awards and drool at shows like this.

There is always a strong Porsche Club presence at the Geneva Concours. This 1955 Porsche Speedster was a standout, complete with optional Rudge Knock-off Wheels which were more common on Mercedes 300SLs.

On display was this Porsche roller bearing crank. While most engine designs use oil-fed shell bearings, this design used needle bearings to eliminate friction. Less friction frees up more horsepower. These engines were notoriously hard to assemble and today, because of their fragility and rarity, they are quite dear.

Oddities and eccentricities abound at the Geneva Concours. The knowledge of vintage scooters for most people begins and ends with Vespa. Maybe Cushman. But there are so many interesting designs out there. The green one is a 1959 KTM Mirabell. And the aqua-colored one is a Goggo Motorroller 200.

Speaking of interesting two-wheeled designs, this Bohmerland motorcycle was designed to get the entire fire department to the scene... on one bike! If you have ever ridden a tandem bicycle, you know what a bad idea this was expecting 4 people to ride on one motorcycle and stay upright. Long wheelbase was a problem going around corners. Presumably, the ambulance was not far behind.

This Alfa Romeo GTA was my favorite car of the show. These racing variants had aluminum bodies. The telltale sign is the rivet detail along the edges of the roof. Most people would walk right past this in its plain white livery, but the details were exquisite up close.

Meanwhile, this McLaren 720S was hard to miss. The blue color had incredible depth. My tastes lean more towards vintage motors, but I can understand the appeal here.

This Facel Vega Facellia was the French company's attempt at a sports car. Their luxury sedans had the attention of dignitaries and celebrities in the 1950s. While the bigger sedans used Chrysler power plants, the in-house engine design for this Facellia proved fragile and was eventually replaced with a Volvo unit. The company went out of business shortly after.

Although it wasn't in the show, this street parked 1965 Beetle caught our eye. Mild hot rod touches, wide 5 wheels and a slightly raked stance make this one just about perfect.

On the way back to our car, we spotted this time-capsule 1990 Honda Accord with just 53K miles on the odometer for sale. Perfect color, and with a 5 speed manual transmission. So strange to think these are 30 years old now. Eventually we all become classics!

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