On Sunday, the Auto Universum Board of Governors attended the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance in Beverly Hills. This grand affair entailed a $120 admittance fee and boasted a splendid field including a Ferrari 250 SWB, a pair of 300 SLs, a Porsche 356 America Roadster, Alfa 6C 2500, Bugatti Type 57, 1930 V16 Cadillac and many other pedigreed swells.
With apologies to Frank Costanza, this annual Beverly Hills extravaganza is not just a Concours, it’s a d’Elegance. In addition to unlimited nourishment, soft drinks, Stella Artois pilsner and AsomBroso El Platino margaritas, tickets entitled holders to vote for their favourite entry.
Given the upscale clientele and impressive field, what do you suppose took home the 2016 People’s Choice trophy? A 1962 Volkswagen Beetle mein freund.
That’s right, the humble Beetle won out over The Usual Suspects. A simple, honest, brilliantly designed automobile conceived in Germany eighty years ago to be a car of der volks, i.e., Volkswagen. And the volks loved it. People of all ages and economic strata drove Beetles. Paul Newman drove them.
The VW in this case was an original, unrestored, unmolested example beautifully presented in its original Beryl Green enamel with correct Olive Green running boards and wheel centres. The interior was upholstered in Soft Beige vinyl with Olive and Nepal Green accents and Brown square-weave carpet.
This wonderful colour palette was indicative of the detail quality that VW built into the Beetle in the 1960s. The rims of the two-tone wheels were painted to complement the exterior colour, while the centres were finished to coordinate with the interior. The Beetle was an inexpensive car, but not a cheap car.
It was a well-deserved win and compelling demonstration that a car possessing character and personality can prevail over lavish expense and gratuitous horsepower. Rarity of course helps and unfortunately, original unmolested Beetles are about as rare today as a Ferrari 250 GTO.
A great victory for The People’s Car, bestowed by the people, and a good opportunity to recall that the Beetle also garnered a distinguished 4th Place in the Car of the Century competition in 1999.