This past Father’s Day, two parts of the AMA team had the opportunity to celebrate the occasion by enjoying the Cheekwood Concours d’Elegance in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan, our Advisory Director, and his son Hayden, our Head of Market Research, are lifelong car enthusiasts, with Dan having spent extensive time in the industry and Hayden growing up surrounded by car culture. Both of them are passionate about classic cars, and Hayden aims to share this love with other members of the younger generation. Hayden is a rising senior at Harvard studying history as well as a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program, with an interest in all things fast stemming from an early exposure to muscle cars and supercars. Below we describe our favorite vehicles at the show and some of the observations garnered from the outing.
Boasting a fun and friendly environment, the Father’s Day show was an absolute blast. With cars spanning nearly one hundred years of automotive history, it was fascinating to see some of the greatest vehicles of different eras in perfect working order. Going chronologically, the oldest and perhaps most interesting cars at the show were the 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom I, a 1930 Lincoln Sport Roadster, and the selection of Packards from the 30s. Evoking feelings of splendor and glamour, the Gatsby-esque Rolls Royce was more akin in size to a Ram 2500 than a Rolls Royce Phantom of today. Fun to imagine what life might have been like for the lucky aristocrat or baron who had the privilege to be driven around in such a vehicle. A favorite feature of the car was the dual windscreens. Though not unique to Rolls Royce, the concept of a two windshield convertible coach exudes prestige and class while encapsulating the design language of the roaring 20s. An absolutely extraordinary piece of engineering.
The next car that really caught our attention was the 1930 Lincoln Sport Roadster with a body built by Locke and Company of Rochester, New York. One of a mere 15 models ever produced, this was probably the rarest car at the exhibition. Finished in two tone green with a tan convertible top, this special Lincoln cost over $5000 new (nearly $90k today accounting for inflation). This car is one of three surviving examples of the original production run, and has gone through two restorations in order to preserve the car’s rich history for modern day car enthusiasts. Unsurprisingly, the roadster is frequently featured at prestigious events including but not limited to Amelia Island, the Glenmor Gathering, and St. Johns. I really enjoyed the combination of 20s and 30s car design combined together to create the ultimate Depression-era roadster.
Seldom seen on American roads anymore, the show boasted several Packards from the 1930s. Two Packard Super Eights, a green convertible built in 1934 and a red sedan built in 1937 were on display. Both cars had beefy straight eight cylinder engines and would not look out of place in a 1930s gangster movie. More interesting than that, we had the opportunity to sit in and hear the owner start a 1938 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster. Powered by a 437 cubic inch V-12 paired with a three speed manual transmission, the remarkable engine was nearly silent upon start. Epitomizing 30s luxury, the car at new would come in at a whopping $122,000 adjusted for inflation.
Additionally, a great variety of more “classic” post-WWII American and European cars were on display. Our personal favorites were a 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, a 1958 Porsche 356a Speedster, and a 1969 Mercedes 280 SL Roadster. Timeless but each encapsulating their different eras, we also had the opportunity to sit in and explore the interior of the Mercedes. Showcasing some early connected features, this car had a 5-band radio. Even cooler, it was the one featured in the Mercedes-Benz 2011 Super Bowl commercial. Far from the features of a modern car, it is nonetheless intriguing to examine the precursors of connected vehicles.
With that, we’ve covered our favorite cars from the Cheekwood Concours d’Elegance. Going to events like this is an essential activity for any car enthusiast, because rarely is so much automotive heritage on display in such pristine condition. As EVs are phased in and ICE cars are retired from production, there’s something special about seeing and experiencing the power and feel of classic cars. Happy belated Father’s Day and Fourth of July!