Masterpiece Style & Speed Showcase an art show on wheels
More than 300 cars and even more gearheads from around the world roll into town this weekend.
But before revving up any preconceived notions about car shows, one first has to draw a difference between a concours d'elegance, like the Masterpiece Style & Speed Showcase on the lakefront this weekend, and your average car show. As Masterpiece founder and chairman Leon Flagg puts it, the event is an art show on wheels.
"What we're doing is displaying rolling sculpture," he says. "Our cars are among the rarest in the world."
This year's show represents 10 states as well as a special Italian guest: a last-of-its kind 1939 Alfa Romeo with body work by Castagna.
"They only built 10 of these cars ever," says Flagg. "Three exist, but two have been customized from the original. There is one left, and it's coming to Milwaukee this weekend."
Taking creative cues from the legendary Concours d'elegance, Pebble Beach, Masterpiece offers an unique opportunity to experience rare automobiles ranging from 19th century horseless carriages and steam-powered sedans to exclusive handmade automotive icons of 1930s Hollywood and badass muscle cars if the 1960s and '70s.
"The Concours d'elegance actually began in the 1920s in Paris, where ladies used to show off their elegant finery -- usually dresses -- and the cars were an accessory," says Flagg. "It's changed a bit in the last 80 years and now the car is the main event, but we're still displaying the most beautiful and elegant cars that we can bring to the Milwaukee lakefront."
Flagg, a member of the Wisconsin Region of the Classic Car Club of America (WIRCCCA) founded the Milwaukee event three years ago, custom designing and enhancing it every summer into the two-day, 300-plus car show it is now.
The event opens Saturday, Aug. 25 with Club Day, where more than 150 cars owned by members of regional organizations dedicated to specific makes are on display. This year, look for appearances by the Daytona Club with Superbirds from the '70s (which boast the tallest fin ever on a production street car), Dodge and Plymouth Wing cars, Porsche, Ferrari and the Wisconsin Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America.
Sunday, Aug. 26 is the Concours d'elegance, with each car hand selected in advance for its beauty, historical significance and rarity. Highlights include Delahaye, Lagonda, Iso Grifo and a 1933 DV-32 Convertible Victoria -- the only Stutz in the world with a body built by coachbuilder Waterhouse.
"We also greatly appreciate 'true original' cars," says Flagg. "All of our cars are authentic, but some are survivors, meaning they've never been restored and everything down to the paint is original. A car that's been wearing its paint and beautifully maintained for 90 years, that's history."
From this category comes an all-original 1911 Cadillac purchased by the Roebling family, best known as builders of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The proceeds from the event fund the Exceptional Needs program of Jewish Family Services, a nonprofit organization that offers comprehensive social services to enhance the quality of life for people of all denominations, ethnic backgrounds and religions.
"For as long as I've been in Milwaukee, which has been 30-some years now, I've often looked at the lakefront and thought how spectacular a Concours d'elegance would be in that space," says Flagg. "It's a great family event -- good food, good parking and a lot of fun."
Wally Rank (Rank & Son Buick) had the best car collection I have ever seen including a couple of very rare Duesenbergs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duesenberg). I wonder what happened to that car collection..
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