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WAY BACK IN THE DAYS OF HORSES AND CARRIAGES
Way back in the days of horse drawn carriages the French aristocracy paraded them in the parks of Paris during Summer weekends and holidays. In the 17th Century this pastime became known as the Concours d’ Elegance (a gathering of elegance).
In due course, carriages became museum pieces and the advent of the motor car brought a competitive edge to the Concours. Rival manufacturers vie with each other for prizes and the attention of potential buyers. Today, there are Concours d’ Elegance events around the world which attract owners of classic and vintage cars and motorcycles.
In Kenya, the Africa Concours d’ Elegance tradition has been maintained by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club. This country’s Concours is over 20 years younger than the event at the Pebble Beach in California. This is rated as “The most prestigious and varied event of its type in the world. The cars are magnificent examples of the best from around the world”.
“Pebble” as insiders call the event is all about the style and history and most of “those who know” from the automobile industry make a point of being there. An auction of fine and rare cars is an important feature of the Pebble Beach Concours. At a recent event a 1933 Alfa Romeo Tipo 8C 2300 Spider was sold for 1.6 million dollars.
Although the Concours at the Nairobi Racecourse is not in the same league as Pebble Beach, the organisers have achieved international status.
In the past, Kenya registered cars and motorcycles have been joined by entries from Australia, England, Germany, Mauritius, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda. Among the noteworthy machines last year were seven cars made before 1940 including a 1934 Alvis Firefly and a 1926 Fiat.
The overall car winner for 2009 was a glistening 1928 Ford Model A entered by Phoenix Aviation. The oldest motorcycle was a Triumph Junior made in 1916 which was entered by Michael Milner-Smyth from South Africa. The top two wheeler award in last year’s event was won by a 1959 BMW entered by Nairobi based Karl Pleitz.
Competitors delight in driving their superbly prepared cars down the judging line in front of the crowded Racecourse grand stands. The assessment process starts with a ramp and an inspection of the under side. This is followed by separate checks on external finish, interiors and engines.
Classes for motorcycles were introduced during the eighties, a step which widened the appeal of the Concours. The bikes are marked at the Racecourse parade ring and judging follows a similar pattern to the system used for cars.
This year’s Concours will be a landmark in the history of the event. The 2010 edition will be the 40th in the annual series organized by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club and coincides with the centenary of Alfa, a legendary Italian car manufacturer. Every effort is being made to put together the best Concours ever to mark these celebrations.
A classic Car and Motorcycle Sale will be held at the Racecourse in conjunction with the Concours on September 26th. This is limited to 30 entries and is open to any vehicle made in 1985, or earlier, regardless of the machine’s condition. The Classic Sale offers an ideal opportunity for owners of unwanted old cars and motorcycles to sell them to enthusiasts.
To ensure high standards of judging, the AccessKenya Concours entry list is limited to 70 cars and 40 motorcycles. Entries are accepted on a first come first served basis. There is also the motor trade section (Auto Expo) which is open to vehicle franchise holders and agents for motoring accessories.
Information on the Concours, the Classic Sale and Auto Expo is available from the Bob Dewar Publicity offices in Norfolk Towers, Kijabe Street. The telephone numbers are 316160, or 2229793 and the postal address is Box 41305, 00100 Nairobi GPO. The Concours website is www.concourskenya.com