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3rd Annual
Los Angeles Concours d'Elegance
June 1, 2008

Bugsby on the green
Bugsby on the green of Brookside Golf Course.

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Bugsby Has Become a Trailer Queen!

trailer queen
Bugsby, stored inside the trailer, is parked outside the Hilton Pasadena. The official hotel of the show, it can only accommodate about three rigs like Lynn brought.

Lynn's been preparing for 5 months for his participation in the 3rd Annual Los Angeles Concours d'Elegance, being held on June 1 at the Rose Bowl and Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, California. This is his first concours, a public exhibition and competition in which vehicles are judged, chiefly on the basis of elegance and beauty. Typically these shows are charity and high-society events displaying the finest examples of the automotive art that the country has to offer.

In another sense, Lynn has been preparing for this event ever since he acquired Bugsby in 2005.

Lynn and Jeanne load Bugsby into Bullet and use The Beast to haul everything to Los Angeles for the show.

This is an interesting time to be on the road with a rig that gets very poor gas mileage. Fuel prices have been rising rapidly in recent months. For this event, they travel about 850 miles and achieve an average fuel economy of 9.4 MPG, consuming over 90 gallons of gasoline at a cost of about $400. Ouch! That's going to leave a mark.

Recently Lynn has come to a new realization about what he's doing with Bugsby. Previously he had been trying to make Bugsby into a better road car, wiring the car for turn signals and making other marginal improvements so the car is safer and a better performer on the street. If asked, Lynn would have said that Bugsby is a driver.

But within the last week, Lynn has come to the new realization that Bugsby will never be a really good driver as there are just too many fundamental issues with a car this old. For example, the two-wheel rear mechanical brakes make the car unsuitable for busy traffic conditions or high-speed driving.

Besides, the extensive and expensive restoration efforts have made Bugsby way too valuable to casually risk damaging it in everyday traffic.

Suddenly it dawns on Lynn, Bugsby has become a trailer queen, and it's all Lynn's fault.

(Trailer queen is generally used as a derogatory name for a vehicle that has essentially become a pampered show vehicle. A trailer queen is always trailered and never driven to a show. Trailer queens are never driven on wet streets or into mud puddles or allowed to stand outside in the rain. As Lynn anthropomorphizes Bugsby to be a male, being a trailer queen also adds a bit of additional tension to Lynn's little joke.)

Robert Redford, Lynn's Body Double?

Robert Redford Lynn Kissel
A photo of Robert Redford (left, fair use)
and Lynn Kissel (right).

It's been Lynn's experience with other, less fashionable car shows, that participants tend to informally gather beforehand to meet one another, share stories and experiences, and generally talk about cars. While this might also be true for the LA Concours, Lynn wasn't able to discover where the participants were gathering.

Late on the afternoon of the day before the event, Lynn cruises the parking lot of the Rose Bowl looking for other owners. He does find one man cleaning a beautiful late 1920's Packard and stops to talk. It turns out that this is not the owner, but a detailer hired by the owner to prepare the car for the show. Nearby Lynn discovers the driver that's been hired by the owner to deliver the car to the show.

Wow! It's becoming clear that this is going to be different from Lynn's past shows. While talking with the detailer and the driver, Lynn hits upon his first weak "joke" for the weekend. If Lynn were rich enough to afford a detailer and a driver, he would also hire an actor to stand next to the car and talk with the spectators during the show!

Lynn and Jeanne have always had a little inside joke that Lynn has some characteristics in common with Robert Redford, so maybe he would be the one that Lynn would hire to show his car.

(Some of you who know him might legitimately ask what physical characteristic Jeanne thinks Lynn could possibly share with Robert Redford. Don't get excited, it's a small bump on one of his cheeks!)

A Beautiful Day in LA

Bugsby golf bags Bugsby engine
Before 7 AM, Lynn positions Bugsby on the show field.

Dawn on show day reveals incredibly beautiful weather for the coming spectacle. The sun shines brightly and there is a heavy morning dew on the golf course grass. The slight haze in the air filters the blue and everything is bathed in a rich, warm light. Jeanne and Lynn rise at 5 AM and drive Bugsby onto the show field before 7 AM.

As they pass through check-in for the show, Lynn discovers that Bugsby has been assigned to class 5, early open-top American classics. It would have been most appropriate for Bugsby to be in class 2, vintage-nickel cars from 1915-1924. As he is the only nickel car at the show, Lynn speculates that the organizers closed class 2 and put Bugsby in the adjacent class 5 with eight other cars from 1929-1934.

1929 Hudson 1929 Packard 1929 Pierce Arrow 1930 Cadillac
OTHER CLASS 5 MEMBERS (left-to-right): 1929 Hudson L, Ken Kenewell, Sun City, AZ; 1929 Packard Boat Tail Speedster, Carl Schneider, Eureka, CA; 1929 Pierce Arrow, Courtland Barr, La Canada, CA; 1930 Cadillac Roadster, Fred Lax, Malibu, CA.
1930 Packard 1931 Buick 1933 Lincoln 1934 Packard
OTHER CLASS 5 MEMBERS (left-to-right): 1930 Packard 740, Danny and Karen Howard, Tarzanna, CA; 1931 Buick Roadster, Leonard Nagel, Buena Park, CA; 1933 Lincoln, Howard Henkels, Arcadia, CA; 1934 Packard V-12 Speedster, Marc Spizziri and Larry Alderson, San Juan Capistrano, CA.

The other cars in class 5 are simply awesome. The 1930 Cadillac will be the class winner with other awards for the 1929 Pierce Arrow and the 1931 Buick.

Lynn and Jeanne agree that the cars selected by the judges are all good choices, but to their eyes, the 1934 Packard is also clearly at the head of this class.

1910 Packard 1911 Mercedes 1912 E-M-F 1913 Cadillac 1915 Autocar
SELECTED CLASS 1 MEMBERS (left-to-right): 1910 Packard Model 18; 1911 Mercedes Touring 28/60; 1912 E-M-F Roadster; 1913 Cadillac Model 30 Roadster; 1915 Autocar XXIF.

There are over 300 vehicles in about forty judged classes at the show. Of particular interest to Lynn are the 13 vehicles in class 1, horseless carriage. These are pre-1916, brass-era vehicles and they ranged from a 1909 Ford Model T to a 1915 Oldsmobile Model 43.

"Most Improved" Award?

Bugsby in Jan'08
Photo of Bugsby that Lynn submitted with his application in January, 2008.

The application for the show required a current photo of the car being entered. Bugsby is still incomplete in January, 2008, when Lynn completes the application. He submits the "current" photo shown above.

Lynn guesses that the organizers want the photo to assure that a suitably collectable car is being entered into the show. He is unaware that the photo will also appear in the program that is printed for the event.

To Lynn's horror and amusement, he opens the show brochure at the cocktail reception on the evening before the show to see his January, 2008 photo of Bugsby. This photo of what looks like a jalopy is interposed between the photos of the other drop-dead-gorgeous cars that will be shown.

Thinking of those silly accolades that appear in many high-school yearbooks, like "most likely to succeed," or "cutest couple," or "most outgoing," Lynn stumbles on another weak joke of the weekend. He tells others at the party that he has no expectation of getting a normal prize at the show, but is hoping to capture the "most improved" award. Of course, there is no such award, but Lynn still does think he has made major progress with the car in recent months.

Concours is Hard Work!

Lynn taking a nap
As the day wears on, Lynn wears down.

It's a long day for Lynn and Jeanne. In the mid afternoon, Lynn sits down for a few minutes and he's out like a light. Jeanne snaps his picture as he catches up on his sleep.

overall crowd and cars
The LA Concours is a huge undertaking.

All day long, Jeanne and Lynn marvel at the size of the show and the large number of well organized volunteers that help make it all run so smoothly. Jeanne and Lynn come away from the day with a great deal of respect for the Assistance League of Southern California. Good show!

Jeanne overhears two other participants comment that this show is "Pebble Beach without the attitude." Lynn's never participated in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, but he thinks most people would consider it to be the mother of concours. It seems that this comment is a double endorsement of the LA Concours.

Jeanne and Lynn are glad that they attended and hope that they contributed at least marginally to this charitable cause.

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Last updated: May 24, 2009