Six Exceptional Cars at the 2016 St. John’s Concours

 The 2016 edition of the St. John’s Concours in Plymouth, Michigan featured another world-class collection of classic automobiles. From the hundreds, here are six examples more than worthy of a closer look. 

Another awesome St. John’s Concours is on the books, and after a few days of reflection and reviewing a mountain of photos, we’ve determined that we are in love with several hundred automobiles. But somehow, from this amazing collection we’ve managed to select six cars for a closer look. Please enjoy.

With styling by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose credits include the Coca-Cola bottle and AIr Force One, the Hupmobile Aerodynamic series was introduced in 1934 with a slippery teardrop profile, faired-in headlamps, and a beveled three-piece windshield. But unfortunately, the company was crippled by the Great Depression and internal management battles and barely managed to keep its Detroit production lines running. A rare car today, this 1935 coupe with 11,000 original miles was displayed by Bill Hill.

When we think of General Motors we think of Body by Fisher, naturally, or perhaps Fleetwood. But in fact, many of the automaker’s station wagon bodies were produced by the Ionia Mfg. Co. of little Ionia, Michigan, over on the west side of the state. (Watch this wonderful video history of the Ionia Body plant here.) This luxurious 1950 Buick Super Estate Wagon, owned by Cornelius Darcy, boasts the classic Fireball straight-eight engine and Dynaflow transmission.

Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins produced a slew of innovations in his drag racing career, but in the early 1970s he set the Pro Stock category on its ear with a series of lightweight Chevy Vega race cars with small-block V8 power. This one, Grumpy’s Toy X, was his second Vega and helped to end the mighty Chrysler Hemi’s domination of the class. Campaigned by Jenkins for several years, Grumpy’s Toy X was ultimately updated with a slope-nosed 1974 front end and is today owned by Mark Pappas.

In 1932, the Auburn Automobile Co. introduced the lowest-priced V12 automobiles ever sold in America—the base coupe model could be had for a mere $975, far cheaper than a 12-cylinder Cadillac, Packard, or Lincoln. This 1933 Twelve Phaeton Sedan, shown by Deidre and Walt Bender, was fully equipped when new at $1,745, but uses the same 391 CID V12 that produced 160 hp and could top 100 mph.

In ’60s muscle car lore, the inititals COPO stand for Central Office Production Order—a bureaucratic workaround that allowed Chevrolet dealers to order cars with special powertrain combinations that weren’t available as regular production options (RPO). Take for example this Hugger Orange 1969 Camaro owned by Phil Mitchell, which came straight from the assembly plant with an L72 big-block Chevy V8 with 427 CID and 425 hp. This COPO is an especially rare example with Rally Sport trim including hidden headlamps.

The legendary Marmon Wasp in which Ray Harroun won the 1911 Indianapolis 500 was essentially a racing version of this production auto, the 1911 Marmon Model 32. Advanced for its time, the Model 32 featured a muscular 318 CID inline four rated at 32 hp. Harroun and his fellow Marmon engineers developed a six-cylinder variation on the basic engine design, adding single-seater bodywork with a pointed tailpiece. With an assist from relief driver Cyrus Patschke, Harroun won the inaugural Indy 500 at an average speed of 74.602 mph. The sporty Model 32 speedster on display at St. John’s is owned by Glenn C. Hamilton.


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