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posted: 8/20/2014 8:01 AM

Geneva Concours d'Elegance celebrates 'the art of the car'

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  • A 1955 LaSalle II Roadster concept car, owned by Joe Bortz, sits with its sister car, a sedan still being restored, at the intersection of Third and Fulton Streets at last year's Geneva Concours d'Elegance. The show, which features vintage, classic and luxury cars, is expected to display about 275 vehicles and draw 20,000 to 25,000 visitors to the city.

      A 1955 LaSalle II Roadster concept car, owned by Joe Bortz, sits with its sister car, a sedan still being restored, at the intersection of Third and Fulton Streets at last year's Geneva Concours d'Elegance. The show, which features vintage, classic and luxury cars, is expected to display about 275 vehicles and draw 20,000 to 25,000 visitors to the city.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2013

  • A 1976 Cadillac Eldorado two-door convertible, owned by Charles Hartley, was on display at last year's Geneva Concours d'Elegance show.

      A 1976 Cadillac Eldorado two-door convertible, owned by Charles Hartley, was on display at last year's Geneva Concours d'Elegance show.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2013

  • Bob and Jennifer St. Mary of Batavia check out a car on display at a previous Geneva Concours d'Elegance car show.

      Bob and Jennifer St. Mary of Batavia check out a car on display at a previous Geneva Concours d'Elegance car show.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Thousands of visitors fill downtown each year for the Geneva Concours d'Elegance classic car show.

      Thousands of visitors fill downtown each year for the Geneva Concours d'Elegance classic car show.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Jamie Greco
Daily Herald correspondent

This Sunday, the streets of downtown Geneva will be filled with cars and car lovers, when the 10th annual Concours d'Elegance rolls into town.

The event will showcase 175 invitational cars from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. Car clubs are expected to display about 100 more cars in the Kane County Courthouse parking area as well.

"The event is to celebrate the art of the car," said event co-founder and director Patt Barrett of St. Charles.

Barrett grew to love cars through her husband, John, who is another co-founder.

"I married somebody who raced and had a collective car for a number of years and friends of ours did the same thing," she said. "One day one of us said, 'we ought to have a car show in Geneva.'"

This year the event, in its 10th year, is expected to draw between 20,000 and 25,000 spectators to Geneva. "It started off very small with about 60 or 70 cars and grew and grew," Barrett said.

Between 40 and 50 judges will consider each of the automobiles for the Carl L. Benz awards before the display is open to the public, according to Barrett.

"We have an award ceremony on Sunday which takes place on the corner of Franklin and Third (streets) at 3 p.m.," she said.

There are four themes to the Concours this year, according to John Maxson, public relations and communications coordinator for the event.

"I think it's going to be a particularly exciting year because we haven't tried this broad of a feature before; usually we just do one," he said.

Top luxury cars built in America before 1948 which have 12 and 16 cylinders is one of those themes.

"Most cars today have four, six and SUVs have V8s," said Maxson, of Riverwoods. "Cadillac, Packard, Pierce Arrow, all the cars that the wealthy purchased prior to 1948."

Focus will also be on Italian cars.

"Any car built by or designed by Italians, the very finest Lamborghini, Ferrari, classic European racing cars which I think will appeal to a younger demographic," Maxson said.

The event is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Maserati of Italy.

Finally, the Ford Mustang is 50 years old and the classic American car will be celebrated.

"We'll have cars from the early years, all the way up to specialty cars which were offered during the '70s and '80s," Maxson said.

According to Kurt Karlson of Orland Park, who has been a car collector since selling his business in 2005, many people buy unique cars for display and not as a mode of transportation.

"I don't buy them just to look at them, I buy them to drive them and it hurts them to sit," he said. "You have to be careful when you're driving them, especially on the highways. People tend to drive toward them when they look at them."

He will be taking that risk when he brings his 1994 Lamborghini Diablo and 1989 Ferrari 328 GTF to be displayed at the Concours.

"The town is beautiful; it's a well-run show that I enjoy attending, plus seeing the cars that show there," he said.

Geneva's hospitality is also high on the list of reasons to attend for Stephen Murphy of Chicago, a curator and restoration specialist for Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage.

"The residents of downtown Geneva are gracious enough to turn their town over to the car enthusiasts," he said. "It's a lovely little downtown. It's a very convenient way to see antique cars and special interest cars."

Murphy's employer, Richard Driehaus, will be represented by a 1941 Thunderbolt, a Chrysler concept car of which five were made and only four remain.

Maxson agrees the city of Geneva has been a gracious host for the Concours over the years.

"Most of the stores and shops stay open for food and beverages even though it's a Sunday," he said. "We get a lot of cooperation from the Chamber of Commerce, the stores, hotels and restaurants."

In addition to the main event, there will be a welcome party Friday at Villa Verone in Geneva which will include a preview of some of the cars.

On Saturday, The Fly In, Drive In Hangar Party, is a fundraiser that will take place at the DuPage Airport in West Chicago. "It will involve airplanes and cars and a silent auction and a fashion show," Barrett said.

Past shows have donated approximately $10,000 to the Pediatric Programs at Cadence Health and the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, Barrett said.

"This is the premier car show for the Chicago area," Maxson said. "There's a similar show in California and Detroit, but for Chicago, the Geneva Concours is the combination of all the collector and classic car activity that's going on, and that's the reason that it attracts such a huge crowd."

Murphy recommends the show for a number of reasons beyond the size and scope of the event.

"It's very visitor friendly. It's free to the public. You get top quality collective cars and it's a lovely town with nice coffee shops," Murphy said. "Once you go, you'll keep going."

For more information, visit genevaconcours.net

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