One-person minis give many classic cars a long run

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — Exhibitors, organizers and guests at the 2011 Krasl Concours here were delighted when the weather forecasters were wrong about a recent Saturday.

A morning thunderstorm passed north of this up-and-coming town on Lake Michigan and the seventh annual concours to benefit the Krasl Art Center proceeded.

Some 90 vehicles, from motorcycles and micro-mini cars to seven-passenger touring beauties and woodie wagons, were stationed in Lake Bluff Park to help mark the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet and celebrate the Krasl Art Center.

In many respects, the automotive guests at the party overshadowed the make being feted. The one-person minis, the sole survivors of historic lines, perfect examples of once-popular nameplates and nicely-restored everyday models gave the Chevrolets a run for the money.

Al and Robin Motta of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. have owned their 1960 Jaguar Mk 9 Saloon for over 30 years. Al spotted the sedan behind a dealership in Yonkers, N.Y. and paid $250 for it back in 1977.

Motta did much of its restoration himself, he said. An exception: the “old bright red” leather seats and interior trim, which were done by a shop in Washington state.

The two-tone Cotswold blue luxury car has two fold-down tea trays for rear seat passengers. Motta located a porcelain Jaguar ashtray and proper tea cup and saucer for display as well as missing pieces to complete the tool kit cleverly stored on the inside panel of the front passenger door

 

“Looking for parts and items like these is much of the fun,” said Motta, who drives the Jaguar Mk 9 on 1,000-mile tours. He admitted he had trailered the Mk 9 to St. Joseph to save hours of cleaning bugs and road grime from the show car.

The 1960 Jaguar is trimmed in burled walnut. Roger Melton’s 1935 MG PA features burled sequoia alongside its stunning green leather seats. Visitors were delighted with the MG’s side-mounted pop-up turn signals, the wire wheels and foldable windscreen and aeroscreens. Melton is from Bloomfield Village, Mich.

Another Detroit-area resident, Barry Wolk of Farmington Hills, was showing his 1933 Continental Flyer, a rare car that won him the Krasl award for best unrestored vehicle. The displayed 1931 De Vaux Model 6-75 Coupe belonging to Myron Cummings of Owosso, Mich. and Wolk’s Continental Flyer were closely related, Wolk explained.

Engine builder Continental Motors Corp. had long been involved in the auto industry when it picked up production of the De Vaux following the 1932 failure of De Vaux-Hall Motors. Wolk said De Vaux owed Continental $500,000 when it pulled out of the business, and Continental continued to produce cars in Grand Rapids, Mich. under various names including Flyer, Ace and Beacon until 1934.

“We drove here from Farmington Hills on old U.S. 12, the one-time stage coach road between Detroit and Chicago,” said Wolk, whose wife Glynette sang the National Anthem when the concours opened Saturday morning.

Indiana museums specializing in Studebakers and Hudsons had their perfect vehicles on display. Vehicles from the Reenders Collection of Grand Haven, Mich., the Burt Collection of Lake Forest, Ill., and the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners added elegance and interest to the show.

“The Krasl Concours reflects the concours tradition (of early lifestyle shows featuring fine automobiles) except that instead of being for sale, the cars are simply on display for our viewing pleasure,” said Wolk, who is a member of the show’s executive board.

“A Concours d’Elegance is first and foremost a beauty contest,” he added.