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ROLLING HILLS ESTATES : Show to Feature 180 Classic Automobiles

San Pedro automobile buff Paul Gommi says he can pinpoint the moment that Ford Motor Co. turned automobiles into art.

It was September, 1932, when Ford--then considered the most influential car manufacturer in the world--built its first prototype using the concepts of styling and streamlining.

The prototype, which Gommi owns, became the model for mass-produced 1933 Fords. Finally, the public had access to transportation that not only performed but looked good, Gommi said.

The car is one of about 180 classic automobiles that will be displayed Sunday at the second annual Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance.

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“With all machines up to that point, form followed function,” he said. “The revolution here was the styling--that it became aesthetically pleasing.”

His Ford prototype, which has never been driven, is said to be the rarest Ford ever built. It took Gommi three years to track down its original parts after he stumbled across the Model 40 chassis in about 1985. The only replacement part of the car is the fan belt, which is needed to start the engine for judging.

The Concours d’Elegance will also include a rare 1936 Cord Sportsman Cabriolet. The modern class will feature the latest models of the Vector Avtech SE and the Lamborgini Countach. Both sell for about $200,000. Jaguar also will display its new sports car, the XJ220, which is so fast that it’s not street-legal or available for sale in the United States, Palos Verdes Concours chairman Eric Allan said. “However, it sells in Europe for around $750,000.”

Besides the automobiles, the event will include exhibits by local artists and food booths. It will be at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School at Silver Spur Road and Hawthorne Boulevard in Rolling Hills Estates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children 5 to 12. Information: (310) 541-2479.

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