Wednesday, June 24, 2015

AULT PARK: 38TH ANNUAL CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE!

Our Mike Matune discovered the Ault Park Concours in Cincinnati, OH only a few years ago and has been looking forward to covering it ever since.
Tom Shaughnessy brought the famous “Caballo II” from California to grace the field at Ault Park. This car, top, is another piece of real Americana, having been hot rodder Ak Miller’s effort to take on the world’s best. Starting with a Frank Kurtis frame, it has a Jack Sutton crafted aluminum body. Under hood you find a Hilborn fuel-injected early Chrysler Hemi. In period, it showed up everywhere from the Mille Miglia to Bonneville and Riverside Raceway.

Each year the show presents a different, interesting, high caliber group of cars with an array of featured marques and themes. Among this year’s, was a celebration of the VW Beetle, above, a car that still evokes strong emotion and devotion long after its roughly 65 year production run of over 20 million examples had ended. You could trace the evolution of the iconic shape as time shaped detail, but not the basic concept. The show benefits Juvenile Arthritis.
Hagerty Insurance’s Youth Judges program was very much in evidence with close to thirty kids participating. They toured the show field and judged the cars for themselves, later presenting awards to their favorites. It is critical that we involve the next generation in our hobby/sport/business and our hats are off to Hagerty for their support of this successful program.
Ford’s Thunderbird has been with us for 60 years now and has been just about everything in its life from sleek two-seater to a personal luxury car. Edward Finke’s ‘59 “Squarebird” represents one of those stops along the way with the Thunderbird as racer. Built to take on NASCAR, these cars were delivered with 390-inch engines with three speed manual transmissions and sans power accessories. It never raced, but rather ended up (allegedly) in the nefarious moonshine trade. As the car became known to revenuers, it became a museum piece, further preserving it.
Regardless of your automotive taste, how can you not find a triple-black, tri-power, four-speed  ‘64 GTO convertible captivating? This one was full-on concours restoration with every tag and marking intact. The “dog dish” hubcaps and redline tires are period correct.
And while we are on stunning black cars, we have to mention Stephen Barrett’s ‘59 Corvette with a brilliant red interior. A 270-horsepower solid-lifter, dual-quad 283-inch engine, bolted up to a four speed, powers it.
Under the heading Future Cars from the Past, Ault Park presented examples of what many thought in the day we would be driving now. Von Dutch (Kenny Howard) created this futuristic car from an F86 wing tank and Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine. Details include wheel pants, swing-away headlights, rudder & wings and fore & aft seating to provide the feeling of flying on the ground. In the background, other future cars include a Delorean and a GM Motorama early Corvette tribute, the fastback Corvair.
The Ingram Collection was well represented at Ault Park with several great cars. Among them was this ‘72 Porsche 911 STR, custom styled by Magnus Walker who was also in attendance. The car has appeared on the cover of Road & Track and made numerous TV appearances. Walker posed for numerous selfies and took in the entire show. His comments during the awards ceremony on the quality of the Ault Park Concours and his appreciation for all things Cincinnati from the city’s architecture to Montgomery Inn ribs were warm and well received.
We’ll admit to not having a huge knowledge base regarding motorcycles, but couldn’t help but be impressed by Jim Walther’s ‘40 Indian. An F-head, straight four of about 80 cubic inches powers the bike through a lever-shifted three-speed transmission. Suspension is by a quarter-elliptic leaf spring up front and coils in the rear. it was discovered in pieces over 20 years ago and restored by its owner and may have been a police bike.
Jim Jaeger’s ‘66 Dino 206 SP was Ferrari’s entry into two-liter prototype racing in the mid-1960s. Powered by a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter V-6 engine, its styling is reminiscent of larger-engined Ferrari prototypes. It's a Le Mans veteran, driven by Hobbs & Salmon.
Despite their pragmatic nature, a fire engine’s styling has often reflected the time in which it was created. There is no doubt Mark Radtke’s ‘24 REO-Speedwagon Obenchain/Boyer example belongs in the “Brass” era. It served Van Buren Township in Western Ohio before winding its way in life onto a Concours show field.
Much had changed by the early-1970s when the Datsun 510 burst onto the scene and assumed the role of giant killer. That was in the heyday of the Under-2.5 Liter Trans-Am. They would vanquish all in their path and take home the series championship two years in a row. The Nissan Heritage Collection is today the caretaker of an original Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) 510. While a milestone in the evolution of the Japanese car in the American market, it was only a step to where they stand today.
Part of the Mercedes Featured Marque class, Dr. Jack Hahn’s ‘93 500E resulted from a partnership between Mercedes and Porsche to put a big engine in a midsize car. But they didn’t stop there as they added larger brakes and increased the track, flaring the fenders in the process. By the time they finished, the creation was a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”.

Next year’s Ault Park Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for June 13, 2016, featuring Ferrari. Special displays will include 100 Years of BMW; The Pickup Truck and the 50th Anniversary of the Ford GT40’s 1-2-3 Sweep of Le Mans.

Words & Photos: M.M. “Mike” Matune, Jr.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ohioconcours.com/
http://cincinnatiparks.com/ault-park
http://www.arthritis.org/ohio/juvenile-arthritis/

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