World-class vehicles on display as Concours d'Elegance returns

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

Plymouth — The Concours d'Elegance of America is back after a year of COVID-induced suspension, reuniting car fanatics at the show long known for the oldest and best vintage vehicles around. 

Held at The Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, this year's three-day event kicked off Friday.

Keenan Martin of Dexter said he's typically attended the car show annually with his father. Martin was eager to get back to it, he said. 

"Being a car guy, it's hard because you live for summer and then corona hit and we were stuck," he said. 

Before the battle of the brands begins, George Wyland, of West Bloomfield Township, looks at this Marmon Sixteen, Friday, July 23, 2021.

Around 200 gathered Friday at the five-star hotel to start the weekend off with a variety of food and drink trucks scattered along the property. 

Joe LaBeau, a Plymouth resident, brought his 1982 Corvette Coupe out to Concours for the first time this year. Collecting cars for most of his adult life, LaBeau felt it was time to show off the coupe, which has been in his family for over 30 years and was passed down to him five years ago. 

Joe LaBeau of Plymouth with his 1982 Corvette Coupe at the 2021 Concours d'Elegance car show in Plymouth on July 23.

"As long as the show has been held here in Plymouth I've come out as a patron," he said. "Sunday is crazy, that's when they bring out the million-dollar cars."

Hagerty, the world's largest provider of specialty insurance, announced their new ownership of the car show in March with a post on their website.

"The Concours d’Elegance of America is a premier event in the home of American car culture,” McKeel Hagerty, CEO of The Hagerty Group, said in the post. “We couldn’t be more honored to have the opportunity to help make it even better.”

Concours has been anchored in the Metro Detroit suburbs for decades — first at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills and then at the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth.

The 43-year-old institution is moving to downtown Detroit for the first time in September 2022. Shortly after Hagerty's acquisition, the car show announced it will call the Detroit Institute of Arts home next year. 

Keenan Martin, of Dexter, takes pictures of vehicles, including, a red Porsche 998 GT2RS and a 2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante in Verde Mantis, foreground, on sale for $332,500 with 1,718 miles, Friday, July 23, 2021.

"We really want to celebrate the glorious, elegant history of Detroit with all of its cultural value. The DIA in particular is tailor-made to showcase the elegance of truly great cars," Hagerty previously told The Detroit News. "The DIA also happens to be right on Woodward, which is one of the very few roads in the United States — think of Route 66, think of Highway One — that has, in and of itself, a history in the automotive world." 

John McIver, of Northville, brought his 1973 Lotus Europa John Player Special out to the show Friday for the first time as well, though he recently featured the car at the Gilmore Museum in Kalamazoo, he said. 

John McIver shows off his 1973 Lotus Europa at the 2021 Concours d'Elegance in Plymouth on July 23.

After hearing that the vehicle was being sold at an auction in North Carolina, McIver said he hopped in his trailer and drove east.

After test driving the Lotus in the Appalachian Mountains, he sealed the deal for around $35,000. 

"(John Player Special) means it's got the paint livery of the original Lotus racecars for Formula One back in the 70s, like Mario Andretti's car," he said. "That's the black with the gold pinstripes."

For a list of weekend events, tickets and hours, visit concoursusa.org.