Vintage car fans rewarded at Geneva Concours d'Elegance
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The cars may have traced their birth to as far back as the Eisenhower administration, but lined up along Third Street in Geneva, they looked as if they just emerged from the showroom.
Enthusiasts, collectors, gear heads and nostalgists crowded the downtown Sunday for the Geneva Concours d'Elegance classic car show.
It was like going to an auto museum -- one where the temperature was 90 degrees. But visitors who withstood the heat were rewarded with some one-of-a-kind vehicles.
The ratio of people to cameras seemed virtually equal at the event, which benefits the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, as visitors eagerly snapped pictures of their favorites.
P.J. Ryan of Glen Ellyn lavished photographic attention on a shiny red 1956 Mercedes-Benz Gull Wing.
"It's a piece of art," he said, "(With) today's cars, you see one, and they all look the same."
Ron Bellack of Elgin echoed those sentiments. "That's what it is. It's art."
A Pontiac Grand Prix raced by Richard Petty jogged the memories of Naperville resident Bob Zeller and son Rob Zeller of Vernon Hills.
"We used to go to the Winston Cup races when he was a lot younger," the elder Zeller said. "And we were thinking we might have even seen this car race."
Ronald Benedict of Campton Hills proudly displayed his 1957 "matador red" Chevy Bel Air convertible, replete with "Route 66" dice hanging from the windshield. He said he has tried to maintain it close to its original condition.
Maintenance is easier than you might think, he said.
"There are so many places now that remanufacture the parts, because it was such a popular car," Benedict said, adding that the car was painted by Immaculate Motorsports Inc. in Elburn.
Parts aren't so easy for the 1958 Chrysler 300 D, known as a "bankers hot rod," owned by Daryl Miller of Normal, Illinois. He belongs to the Chrysler 300 Club International, which can find parts if he needs it.
"You can buy Model T and Model A parts today, but not (for) '50s and '60s Chryslers," he said.
One of the judges of the Chrysler 300s, Noel Hastalis of Burr Ridge, said the cars were high-performance vehicles but saw a limited production.
"Over 11 years, they only made a little over 16,000 of them," said Hastalis, who is on the board of directors of the Chrysler 300 club. "Very great handling cars, special styling. They were unique cars."
Ken Meyer of Woodstock proudly exhibited the same type of white 1968 Volvo coupe used in the Roger Moore television series "The Saint."
Some visitors, getting into the nostalgic spirit, reflected it in their wardrobe. Andrew and Wendy Cool of St. Charles wore a fedora and sun hat, respectively. Wendy also brought white gloves with buttons.
Andrew said he likes attending the event because he sees cars you would not normally see at a car show.
"Last year, they had a Tucker here," he said. "I saw that, I was like, 'Holy cow.'"
"I like anything with big fins," Wendy added. "Anything from '57."