Concours D’Elegance at Greystone Mansion is for upscale gearheads

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If the thought of Bugattis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos gets your heart revving, then the classic car gawk-fest of the third annual Concours D’Elegance at Greystone Mansion on Sunday could be your speed.

Hosted by the City of Beverly Hills as a fundraiser for the restored historic setting once owned by the Doheny family, the upscale auto show is becoming one of Southern California’s premier car events. It was recently endorsed by the world’s vintage car watchdog, FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), and the event is only one of a handful of U.S.-based car shows to receive its official stamp of approval.

“It’s really taken off like wildfire,” said Buddy Pepp, director of the Petersen Automotive Museum, a major sponsor of the event. “We have exquisite cars in an exquisite setting.”

The daylong event will spotlight more than 150 vintage cars and motorbikes, with the oldest being a rare 1915 Stutz Bearcat ranging up to 1970s Ferraris. “These vehicles tell us a great deal about our heritage.” said Pepp, who will be presenting a world renowned Bugatti from the 1930s and a 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder from the museum. “As society evolved, so did the automobile, and many of the cars from the 1920s to the ‘70s had a personality all their own. It wasn’t about how fuel efficient they were. It was about innovative designers and unique cars.”

“We have an incredible variety of cars on display,” said Jeff Brynan, director of vehicle selection for the event. “From restored, pre-World War II Mercedes to the first Corvette to race at Le Mans to a showcase of cars produced by Ford, including Hot Rods, Thunderbirds and Cobras.” There will also be a duplicate of the 1950s Sunbeam, the stylish open air roadster Grace Kelly used to motor around the French Riviera in “To Catch a Thief.”

The show attracts celebrities. Car and motorcycle enthusiast Jay Leno usually pays a visit, and former Bond star George Lazenby and Chad McQueen, son of legendary actor Steve McQueen, are expected.

McQueen’s love of speed left a legacy still celebrated today. An avid collector and racer, the star of the speed-friendly “Bullitt” left 133 motorcycles and 38 cars when he died in 1980. Tracking them down has become something like a collector’s Golden Ticket. Two of McQueen’s beloved Husqvarna motorbikes will be featured, including a 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross, which has been verified as a bike the actor not only owned but also raced in West Coast Motocross competitions.

“My dad loved the Husqvanas. He would buy them four at a time,” said McQueen’s son, also a champion racer and collector. “It still amazes me how much he resonates today. People love to see his stuff and he was a real trailblazer when it came to his collection of cars and motorbikes. He knew everything from vintage 1920s motorcycles to every make of racing car.”

Although the event is geared toward its stars of the road, it also offers a rare chance to peek inside the glorious 1920s Tudor mansion set on 18 acres of meticulous manicured gardens with sweeping views over Beverly Hills. While the grounds are now a public park, the inside of Greystone Mansion is rarely open to the public. This year the newly renovated second floor will also be open.

“A lot of people come because of the architecture, the history and the grounds,” said Cindy Brynan, event director for Concours D’Elegance. “It is a fun place to wander through. We have so many gardens, and two ponds with koi and snapping turtles and incredible views.”

Admission includes parking, food and beverages, including margarita stations and beer gardens throughout the grounds. The food is catered by Lawry’s with prime rib sandwiches, sliders and mac and cheese. There will also be a jazz band, a marketplace selling jewelry, art and books as well as lectures by automotive experts and speakers fluent in the history of Greystone Mansion.

“There really is something for everyone. It’s not just for people interested in collector’s cars but for anyone who wants to enjoy the history of this great estate,” said Brynan.

Concours D’Elegance

When: Sunday 10am - 4pm

Where: Greystone Estate, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills

Cost: $108 advance purchase, $133 at the door. Free parking with shuttle at 450 N. Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills.