First Pinehurst Concours benefits Wounded Warriors

PINEHURST, N.C. — Dave Heinfeld’s face lit up when a man wearing a white one-piece suit approached his 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six Sedan.

“This means we’ve won an award,” said the Celina, Oh., resident.

And indeed, the Pontiac, which had been in the Heinfeld family since they bought it back in 1964, won third place in the preservation class at the premier Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance here the first weekend in May.

Entrants had been told that the judges designated to notify winners in the show’s 11 judging classes would be wearing white, Heinfeld explained as he started up the car’s quiet flathead six and rolled down its smoothly operating slightly discolored original windows.

As he prepared to drive to the announcer’s stand for a pass in review, Heinfeld quickly phoned his wife to tell her the great news. “I’ll try not to cry,” he added before dialing.

The Pontiac was third in the unrestored class. It shared the segment awards with a 1966 Porsche 911 and a 1977 Porsche 911T.

Heinfeld said the car’s paint was no longer original, but the slightly bumpy seats certainly were. A brother had put a faux-wood metal plate across the ashtray atop the dashboard — his way of encouraging their mother to quit smoking many years ago.

The Pontiac’s tube radio crackled as Heinfeld searched for a nearby station. He figured that although the grounds of this Pinehurst golf course were damp from incessant wet weather, the car’s huge steering wheel would help him maneuver from his parking spot to the road leading to the review area.

A benefit for Wounded Warriors, this first Pinehurst Concours invited 118 cars in celebration of the 118th anniversary of the prestigious golfing and resort area. Many were from the Carolinas and neighboring Georgia.

An exception was the 1941 Willys Speedway from Apple Valley, Calif. The “neighborhood project,” with headers jutting out from beneath the its 482-inch engine, said this was a mean machine.

And without doubt the thirstiest. Co-owner Jack Warren boasted the candy-apple-red coupe could do a quarter mile in 10 seconds and reach a speed of 138 miles an hour.

“It goes 750 to 850 feet on a gallon of gas,” Warren said.

While Peter Boyle’s 1938 Steyr Roadster — said to be one of six made and three extant — won Best in Show at the 2013 Pinehurst Concours, judges were not to be envied. All invited cars were significant and each, in its own way, beautiful. The 1936 MG SA Open Tourer belonging to Barry Alexander of Sarasota, Fla., surprised many with its size and extraordinary style.

The 1930 LaSalle — fashioned as a seven-passenger touring car — flaunted its bright-green paint. This, and other angular classics like the 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG, rooted in 1920s design juxtaposed with the mid-1930s aero shapes of the DeSoto Airflow, Bugatti Type 57 and the Boyle’s Steyr Roadster was dramatic.

The Holman Moody 1967 Ford GT40 MkII and seven others in the Holman Moody grouping appeared to never doubt their ability to run and win races. North Carolina-based race car manufacturer Holman Moody was the only one of the concours’ 12 classes that was labeled “display only.”

As the day wore on, the cool, threatening weather made good its promise. By 2:15 p.m. a light rain had exhibitors raising the tops of their treasures, packing up belongings, forsaking the club’s trademark white rocking chairs and heading for exits. Some of the 5,000 in attendance remained to ask last-minute questions and take photos of concours participants as they departed.

An announcer noted that the first weekend in May a year earlier had temperatures of over 100 degrees. He suggested for 2014 a compromise between that and the day’s 50-60-degree readings for the future: A hint that the 2013 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance is the beginning of an annual tradition? Let’s hope.