What are You Looking for in a Concours 


This stunning Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B won "Best of Show at this year's Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance.

Concours Links:

2002 Palo Alto Concours
2002 AROC National Concours

by Phil Guiral
After organizing the AROC National Convention concours, I was besieged with requests to explain what the judges looked for. This is a legitimate question and I’d like to answer it by telling you what I look at.

First and foremost a concours is a competition by definition (concours is French for competition). I’ve had comments from entries saying that they resent having their cars picked apart by a group of judges. It should be understood that this is how judges evaluate a car. It can be a painful experience for someone who has spent hours or even days preparing their pride and joy, but this isn’t just a car show, it’s a competition. By entering, you’re asking the judges to criticize your car.

The standard the judges use is a comparison of the judged car to that car when it left the showroom floor. There are a number of great reasons a car no longer looks brand new, but the judges have to judge against that standard.

This seems to be the root of the problem. People are always asking the judges to consider the excuses the car no longer looks that way. “It’s an old car”, “It’s got a lot of miles”, “It’s my daily driver”, “It’s a much better car with a 5 speed or a 2 liter”, and “I don’t have the money to restore it”, all are legitimate reasons a car looks different than it did on day one. But if a judge considered these reasons it would make the process even more subjective than it already is. One of the goals of this type of event is to get people to preserve a car in its original condition so that we have examples to look at years down the road.

It helps going into the event realizing that you probably won’t get 100 points. Now you do the best with what you’ve got. Wash and wax is the easy part. What’s depressing is losing by one or two points because of some little item that would have taken five minutes to fix. Steam clean the undercarriage, then take a can of flat black paint and spray areas that are rusty, chipped, or faded. Get rid of water spots in areas you don’t think about like door jams, wheel wells, engine bay, or the underside of the hood. Make sure all the wax is removed from the car especially around emblems. Almost everyone I know has lost out on a trophy because a taillight or turn signal did not function. Remember that the devil is in the detail. When the car is ready, have someone else look it over. It’s easy to get so focused that you miss an obvious item.

When you get to the show and the judges are ready for your car, don’t welcome them with excuses why the car is not ready! Judges are human and sometimes miss things you see as obvious, so don’t point it out. If you are asked a question about authenticity, be truthful. I would never take off points unless I know for sure something is out of place, but don’t tell me your 1967 GTV came stock with a CD player. Like everything else in life, honesty is the best policy.

In the end, go into this competition knowing that it is very subjective and that all judges are different. Also remember that no matter what shape your car is in, there will be a lot of spectators wishing they had a car like yours.

Neither AlfaCentro.com, it's publisher, FORZA Modern Media, LLC., or the individual article authors makes any warranties, expressed or implied, that the techniques, modifications, and procedures outlined in these stories are free of errors and omissions, meet applicable safety standards, or are suitable for the purposes described. The publisher and authors also expressly disclaim all liability for damages that may arise from the use of information presented in these articles.

alfacentrofeaturestech q&aresourcesclassifiedsabout usannounce list