Winter Park Concours 2008
November 2, 2008

An article by Karim Rahemtulla follows the photos.  The first four photos are courtesy of John Reker; all others by Connie Schmitt.

A beautiful Saturday morning in November greeted the participants of the most recent Winter Park Concours D’Elegance. Many of us met at Dexters in Winter Park for a nice kick-off breakfast. Only one 356 showed up for the morning drive through the country. John Reker was there, but he was driving his 993 as his cab is in the shop undergoing a thorough restoration…a future winner for the Concours… if he decides to show it. Bryan May left his Speedster at home and chose to drive a magnificent Jaguar replica, which sounded as good as it looked. The lack of a windshield on that model made it a particular standout. But, Brian wore classic goggles and managed to navigate the route in the pole position most of the way. Jan Reker designed a nice drive through Winter Park, Tuskawilla and Oviedo, which took about 90 minutes to complete…for some of us. A word to the wise: when you are following a pre-planned route, follow the route, not the driver in front of you!! As a few drivers found out right at the outset, there was a right turn off Park Avenue!! We met up at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens for a beautiful lunch on Lake Osceola with plenty of sunshine and some excellent chow. One of the attendees driving a beautiful 1960s Ferrari convertible (a past Concours winner) did run into some fuel difficulties…apparently a faulty fuel gauge stuck at half-a-tank proved to be his undoing. But, thanks to a friendly tow, he was able to join us for lunch and showed up on the avenue the next day with all systems go…and a working soft top. Sunday started out gray with forecasts of rain throughout the day. Mother nature did not disappoint as the skies opened up around noon and gave everyone a thorough soaking. The wet weather did not prove to be a deterrent to the presenters or the thousands of fans who crowded the avenue to make the event another success. Now, if they could fix the darn AV equipment, or just turn down the volume, then maybe we could hold claim to being one of the top shows in country…some day. Without a doubt the Concours is one of the top shows in Florida. More than 200 cars were on display. You had your usual displays of look-a-like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, a couple of Mercedes 300sl, one gullwing and one cabriolet, a dozen Astons, a bunch of Jags including a couple of stunning XKEs and a new XF. There was even a new Audi R-8…too late though as we already saw one in action at the last autocross in October. Porsche was represented with a strong contingent of cars from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even this decade. There were six 356s in attendance, but none prettier than Mike Davis’ black 1964 SC Coupe which took first place this year. Without a doubt Mike Owen’s Speedster and Bryan May’s Pebble Beach Speedster were top contenders as well, but it appears that this year they wanted a hardtop on the podium!
Speaking of winners, it appeared that we had quite the contingent of nit picky judges this year. They were not playing around when it came to judging the 356 crowd. They were looking for perfection. For some reason everyone, ahem Mike, seemed to have trouble with their running lights or turn signals or back-up lights. The Davis car was absolutely perfect in all visible respects, except for one. Mike’s running lights would not work. Strange, considering all the fuses were OK and everything else was perfect. As it turns out, there were NO bulbs in the running light sockets. Joe Veglucci and myself suspected
that it was the case since the sockets for the running lights are so small, and separate from the other lights, they are often missed. Miraculously Mike caught the problem and was able to install them to meet the judge’s final inspection. It was a tense moment that forced Mike to put down his coffee and NY Times for almost five minutes. Congratulations!
As the day wore on the weather became far less predictable with intermittent showers and many of the participants looking for an early exit. The judging was over and the awards ceremony was pushed up by an hour or so to allow the show to end before dark…it was daylight savings the night before. Nevertheless the show was a success and plans are underway for next year already. Judging by the number of last minute gremlins that affected most of the 356 show cars, there may be an opportunity for my “driver” to actually be judged and sneak in a second or third place next year. The odds are in my favor…but then I would have to wash and wax it.
Karim Rahemtulla