Hybrids at Greenwich
Spectacular displays to expect at this year’s Greenwich Concours d’Elegance.
The Greenwich, Conn., Concours d’Elegance is one of the world’s ultimate car shows (it’s even listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die). Held June 2-3 this year, the show is actually two themed days of collectors’ automobiles. Saturday’s “Concours Americana” is exclusively for American makes, while the “Concours International” showcases imports on Sunday.
Of course, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without all the accompanying festivities, such as the regatta of classic former America’s Cup yachts, and a major auction by Bonhams of collector cars, classic motorcycles and auto memorabilia. And this year’s show gives attendees the chance to try out Virtual GT driving simulators in the Automobile Magazine/Motor Trend pavilion.
Each year the Concours has a theme. But don’t let this year’s “Mid-Century Hybrids” idea throw you. Unlike what we think of today as a hybrid (hybrid electric vehicles), the hybrid of yesteryear combined American running gear and V-8 engines with hand-crafted Italian, French and British coachwork. On show, an incredible collection of mid-century hybrids. Here are a few examples of what to expect:
French manufacturer Facel produced cars only for a decade—between 1954 and 1964. The Vega production cars appeared in 1954, using Chrysler V8 engines. Just as heavy as American cars, they could reach a top speed of 118 mph, and go from 0 to 62 in just under 10 seconds. Most were two-door hardtops—but a few rare convertibles were also made.
Another short-lived manufacture, the Dual Ghia was produced only for two years—between 1956 and 1958. The car, whose design was based on an earlier show-car by Chrysler called the Firearrow, was built on a Dodge frame and transported to Italy, where the body was made by Italian coachmaker Ghia. Clean and conservative, the design avoided the gimmicks of the day, such as fins, and was offered only in a four-seat convertible.
Like the Dual Ghia, the Hudson Italia was an effort to capitalize on the beauty and popularity of showcars, while offering some accessibility to the driving public. The Hudson Italia was a limited production two-door compact coupe produced by Detroit’s Hudson Motor Car Company and Carrozzeria Touring of Italia in 1954 and 1955. If its hybrid contemporaries were conservative, the Italia featured a downright flamboyant design, with a big inverted “V” on its front bumper, scalloped cut-outs in its rear quarter panels, bright red deep pile Italian carpet and an “Italian Cream” exterior, with loads of shiny chrome. Another feature: the seat belt, not yet standard in autos of the day.
Based on the Chevrolet Corvair, the Fitch Phoenix was an elegant, steel-bodied roadster whose lightweight body allowed it to go from zero to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. Fender humps were a key design element, but also provided a place to stow a spare tire. And while the Phoenix met critical acclaim, General Motors stopped Corvair production, making short work of the elegant little roadster the same year it was produced.
Image © Getty Images
TO LEARN MORE
Find ticket information and more about this year’s Greenwich Concours d’Elegance at the official website.
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