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Marin-Sonoma Concours d’Elegance
May 16-17, 2009

Bugsby at the show
Bugsby receives the Forgotten Treasure award at the inaugural Marin-Sonoma Concours d'Elegance.

Jump to:
  Problems on The Drive
  Dancing the Night Away
  A Forgotten Treasure?
  The Mount Tamalpais Kissel

Problems on The Drive

Lynn learns of the inaugural Marin-Sonoma Concours at a 2008 Christmas party given by friend George Teebay. George is a sponsor and he encourages Lynn to enter Bugsby in the show. Subsequently Lynn's application to exhibit Bugsby is accepted by the concours selection committee.

Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby The Drive logo
It's a glorious morning as Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby in front of the Poggio restaurant on Bridgeway in Sausalito.

In addition to the show on Sunday, Lynn enters Bugsby in The Drive, a 97-mile tour on Saturday through Marin and Sonoma counties, north of San Francisco. At the lunch stop at the Marin French Cheese Company, Lynn and Jeanne are treated to a wonderful outdoors lunch under the trees.

The tour takes Jeanne, Lynn and Bugsby over the shoulder of Mount Tamalpais, a 2571-foot peak. Car and driver find their mettle tested by the climb and Bugsby overheats. Although it's a warm day, Bugsby should not be having this much trouble. If it wasn't clear to Lynn before this tour it becomes clear now that something is amiss with the engine and his efforts (radiator cleaning, water pump rebuild) to correct the problem have not been sufficient..

Due to his concern of overheating and subsequent fading of the two-wheel mechanical brakes on Bugsby, Lynn uses extensive "engine braking" on the downhill portion of the climb over Mount Tamalpais. It's at this time that Bugsby develops a new, light but persistent "tick" or "tink" in the engine. Yikes! Lynn doesn't like the sound of that! It doesn't sound like a connecting rod; maybe a valve.

In another twelve days, Bugsby is signed up for the NATC Tour out of Lodi. Lynn mentally promises Bugsby that he will get some more extensive tender loving care if he can just hold together for another two weeks. Lynn ends the tour with a mildly sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, concerned something is definitely wrong with Bugsby's engine, but not knowing what it is.

Dancing the Night Away

Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby
Cover of the invitation to the fancy evening reception, costumes encouraged.

Later that evening there is a fancy champagne and hor d'oeuvres reception at the hotel. Entitled Flappers & Fedoras, participants are encouraged to don 1920s apparel. A live band and a couple of professional dancers encouraged others onto the dance floor. Later in the evening, Lynn approaches the female dancer and asks to be shown a few new steps. She happily complies and Lynn has great fun enhancing his dancing.

A Forgotten Treasure?

Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby
Bugsby on display near the winner's circle and announcers tent (left). Lynn enjoys endless conversations with a steady stream of visitors all day (right).

On Sunday, the weather is perfect and the show is fantastic. Lynn couldn't get over how many cars are exhibited, plus there are a large number of vendor booths, alternative fuel vehicle displays, hit-or-miss engines and lots more. Everything seems to run extremely well, although he's certain that the organizers are grappling with a thousand "glitches" behind the scenes.

Bugsby is competing with nine other beautiful cars in Class D (American Classic Open and Closed 1925-1948). This class is sited directly in front of the winners circle and announcers stage. Literally hundreds of visitors stop to look at Bugsby and talk with Lynn. Lynn is in his element!

Lynn is under no illusion about his chance of an award based on the beautiful cars parked around him. So Lynn is taken by surprise to hear chief judge Martin Swig call his name, requesting him to come to the stage. Martin tells Lynn and the crowd that Bugsby has been selected for the Forgotten Treasure award.

Lynn's head is awhirl and can't remember a lot about the interview. He recalls being asked the number one question, is he a "real" Kissel. Lynn doesn't recall what words he managed to utter in response.

Some days after the show, Lynn contacts Martin and asks him tell him what the Forgotten Treasure award means. Martin tells Lynn...

Over the years there have been numerous significant cars. There are waves of fashion than sweep over various cars; [we] see them featured in magazine articles and recognized by various commentators. But very few car buffs are serious historians. As a result, many truly significant cars get overlooked. We had several examples at this weekend's show, and it was not easy to select the recipient of the Forgotten Treasure award. But your Kissel meets the criteria to a ‘T’, and I was very happy to make the award to you.

Well! Lynn has always thought that Bugsby was special, but he's naturally biased. Martin's comments give Lynn a new level of appreciation for the historical significance of the car. He's going to have to treat Bugsby with more respect.

The Mount Tamalpais Kissel

Returning to the car, Lynn is greeted by several people that congratulated him and chat about the car.

Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby
Fred Runner has written a history of the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railroad.

As the small group dissipates, a remaining individual identifies himself as Fred Runner, a published railroad historian. He was also shocked to hear of Bugsby's award, but for another reason. To his amazement, Fred tells Lynn of Mount Tamalpais scenic railway. Also known as the "Crookedest Railroad in the World," it transported people to a grand lodge in the clouds, high above the San Francisco Bay from 1896 to 1930. Further, Motor No. 3 was a 1916 KisselKar which Fred thought was a locally produced vehicle. He was quite excited to stumble upon Bugsby and Lynn and wanted to know more about the Kissel Motor Car Company. Lynn was also excited to hear about this unique Kissel vehicle and he too wanted to learn more.

Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby Lynn applies the tour logo to Bugsby
Motor No. 3, the KisselKar — "If you have a small party and wish a special train, you will be taken to the summit in a 60-horsepower gasoline motor train. It is run on the railroad track on standard railroad trucks, is electrically equipped and has an air whistle and compressed air brakes." (From a 1917 brochure of the Mount Tamalpais Railway)

Over the next several months, Fred and Lynn have telephone conversations and exchange email messages. Lynn learns that

The gas-powered KisselKar was the most elegantly appointed vehicle on the line, sometimes taking private parties to the Tavern. She was also temperamental, burning through three unreliable engines in nine years and often refusing to start on cold mornings. The KisselKar’s engineer was also the conductor. A small turntable was added at Lee Street to turn her around. She could carry 20 passengers. (From Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway, by Fred Runner)

Based on what he learns from Fred, Lynn prepares a banquet talk for the June 2009 KisselKar Club meeting in Hartford, Wisconsin. Follow this link to view a PDF version of Lynn's entire talk (PDF, 1.1 MB).

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Last updated: Mar. 7, 2010