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Celebrating a Decade at Serrano

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Bruce Canepa with 21 Duesenberg PicmonkeyBruce Canepa with first Duesenberg

by Dan Clarke

Sunday was the Niello Concours at Serrano. The Serrano Country Club setting doesn't have an ocean view, but references were made to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, nonetheless. If this 10th year tradition in the El Dorado Hills area just east of Sacramento doesn't quite have the panache of Pebble, it's still a damned fine car show. The event honored Rolls Royce, as it did in its inaugural edition a decade ago. Also celebrated at this October 6th gathering were the 50 year anniversaries of Lamborghini and the Porsche 911.

This year's Grand Marshall was Bruce Canepa, famed for his racing career and, more recently, for his high-end automobile restoration business in the Santa Cruz area. It was his Scotts Valley shop that restored the entry judged 2013's Best of Show, a 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coupe. The car was purchased new by current owner James Castle, Jr's grandfather. And it was the first production Duesenberg ever built. How's that for provenance?

XK140 Jim Perell PicmonkeyJim Perell with his heirloom JaguarI walk through the gate and see so many gorgeous vehicles it's hard to know where to start. There are some very valuable automobiles here on the lawn, but nothing is roped off. Though everything is very accessible, common sense tells me that it would be very bad form to touch these cars or drip one's drink over somebody's gleaming bodywork. I soon discover that many of the owners are in the vicinity of their cars and are friendly and happy to talk about their entries.

First to catch my eye is a 1956 Jaguar XK140. It's a convertible or drop head coupe in British parlance. It is unrestored and is entered in the Preservation Class. I ask a dapper fellow standing nearby if he is the owner. Jim Perall says he is. Turns out he is the second owner of this car. Jim remembers he was about seven or eight years old the day he and his Dad drove this Jaguar home from a Southern California dealership. Except for the new leather in the cockpit, everything else is as original as they day it was purchased. Apparently, it still runs well. We share some conversation and I learn a lot about his car. Later Jim will be seen, microphone in hand, chatting with car owners as they wait to drive their winning entries up to the reviewing stand to receive their awards.

Auburn Boattail Speedster PicmonkeySupercharged Auburn Boattail Speedster

Wandering among all this elegant machinery I meet a couple of other owners. They seem to be enjoying the day as much as I am. Everybody has his favorites, but none of the entries could really be faulted.

Some evoke good memories, like a red '62 Impala convertible—the fabled Chevy 409—and the '65 Sunbeam Tiger, a British sports car fitted with an American V8 engine, à la the AC Cobra. Others are from a time long before mine, but almost make me wish I were even older so that I might have experienced them when they were on the road—the 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster, for instance.

Bentley 1948 PicmonkeySaoutchik Bentley -- such elegance!Many are far removed from any world I ever experienced, such as the 1948 Saoutchik Bodied Bentley Mark VI (in periwinkle blue). Some newer vehicles like the 2013 McLaren MP4-12C are exotic by any definition. It looks like it should only be driven an astronaut. Driving home I admit to a little jealousy (what car guy wouldn't want to possess any of these beauties?), but console myself in the thought that I don't have spend the money to maintain such a classic or worry about that inevitable fender-bender if I chose to drive it. The Niello Concours at Serrano was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The 2014 edition is on my calendar.

Editor's note: Photos for this article were shot with an iphone. At the Facebook page of this event we found a link to really wonderful pictures shot by Tyler Visger. It's beautiful work and is worth checking out http://tylervisger.com/2013-niello-concours-at-serrano/

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