Palo Alto Concours D'Elegance 2002

Alas, I didn't take any pictures this year. (Mike, want to share yours?) Many nice cars showed again this year. Cadillac, celebrating an anniversary, was a featured marque. Here are some more notes on the event as I sent them to the lotus-cars mailing list.

To: lotus-cars
From: Jeff Chan
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 13:53:10 -0700
Subject: [lotus-cars] Dealer shows Elise S2 at Palo Alto Concours in California

Hi All,
San Francisco area Lotus dealer Boardwalk Auto Center showed an Esprit and Elise S2 at the Palo Alto Concours D'Elegance yesterday. I'm sure to the rest of the world, this is no big deal, but in the United States [the largest car market in the world], Elises are extremely rare, so it's very unusual for a dealer to display an S2 to gauge interest since they're not approved for U.S. sales. Lotus itself showed an S2 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in order to appreciate interest in the upcoming world car version of Elise, codenamed M260.
Salesman Stuart Downey said response was overwhelming and unexpected, and his associate (not sure if he was the Lotus technician or a sales assistant) showed me pages of names of people who signed up for more information. We thought they would have no difficulty selling to some of the more than 50 people who requested information. Both gentlemen were starting to lose their voices from describing the car to interested folks. I probably should have stuck around to help out, but wanted to see the concours cars and had other events to get to. Next time, perhaps Golden Gate Lotus Club folks could coordinate with Lotus dealers to help answer questions, as was done at the New York auto show.

Stuart mentioned pricing around $45k and the possibility of a more powerful engine. He also explained, and the largely car-savvy showgoers understood, that a lot of power is not really necessary in so light a car. I suggested that Stuart get word to Arnie and Arnie to England about the high level of interest and likely sales if Lotus would bring Elise to the U.S.
The Concours itself was interesting as usual, with cars from many countries and all eras from 1900 through 1990 with a few current cars in dealer or the supercar display. This show always has a good representation of American cars, from Shelbys to prewar touring sedans. Featured marques this year were Cadillac, celebrating its centennial, and Alfa Romeo. I particularly liked the clean and elegant lines of a prewar Cadillac V16, and the prewar through 1960s Alfa street and race cars were wonderful to behold.

Not too many Lotuses this time. In addition to Boardwalk's cars, there was a 1969 7 S4 and Jim McClure's rescued 1959 7A. In the parking lot were a yellow Elise and a Caterham dealer's yellow 7. Jim's car placed in the concours a few years ago, very unusually displayed in pieces as an original car kit.

The "Gallery of Greats" supercar display included a Ferrari 288 GTO, F40, 550 Barchetta, Porsche 959, GT2, Ruf RGT, Viper coupe, Bugatti EB 110, and a street version McLaren F-1. Also included were the first Lamborghini Murcielago, Aston Martin Vanquish and Maserati Spider I've seen. I'd seen racing versions of the McLaren before, but seeing the street version for the first time reinforced that the McLaren F-1 is one of the greatest road cars made to date.
The Concours was the finish line for a 150 mile endurance run of vintage race cars from 1900 through about 1930. The first to arrive appeared to be Indy specials. We particularly enjoyed hearing the first to arrive, a straight-8 one-off-special, run out the engine before shutting down. The tour was to include Fords, Chevys, Stutz, Bentleys, Packards, Alfa Romeos, Bugattis, together with the specials.

Bay Area Esprit group and GGLCer folks were no doubt present but I didn't manage to spot them in my all too brief time there.