Car Aficionados Flock to the Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance

By Marni Prichard Manko | August 22, 2014 | Main Line

Main Line car aficionados shift into high gear at the world-renowned Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance.

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During September 12-14, thoroughbred automobiles roar through Radnor for the annual Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance.

Although Malvern’s Radnor Hunt is best known on the Main Line as the long-standing hub of the blue blooded equestrian set, every September the beat of gallops is replaced with the roar of engines as some of the world’s rarest and most coveted collectors’ cars come together for the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance.

“My passion has always been horses and horsepower,” says Mike Tillson, chairman and founder of the Radnor Hunt Concours. A Ferrari aficionado, Master of Foxhounds at Radnor Hunt, and former international race car driver, Tillson came up with the idea 18 years ago after working with the renowned Pebble Beach Concours. “I thought, What a wonderful venue Radnor would be for collectors of vintage cars, motorcycles, and carriages. What an excellent event to try to emulate on the East Coast.”

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Though many more vehicles apply for admission, only 100 of the elite collector automobiles in the country make the cut to be judged.

The three-day event is part car lover’s dream, part social gathering. Friday is a welcome party barbecue at beneficiary Thorncroft Equestrian Center (a therapeutic program that offers riding for disabled children and adults, including wounded soldiers). Saturday is a 150-car road rally through Chester County horse country, and Saturday evening is the annual black-tie gala. But Sunday is when the automotive splendor shifts into high gear with The 100 Motor Cars of Radnor Hunt, a world-class automotive competition.

“We have some very, very rare cars,” says Tillson. “Some of these cars are worth quite a few million—and some of the rarest Ferraris are worth upwards of $20 or $30 million. For some, only one, or a handful, were ever built.” Past Best of Show winners include a 1932 Packard 902 Sport Phaeton, 1930 Bentley Speed Six, and a 1939 Bugatti 57SC Roadster.

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The rarest cars are worth upwards of $30 million.

Every year, there’s a themed collector car, or a marque, and this year it’s Classic Chryslers from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. Also competing are Formula One cars, as well as a class called Powered by Ford (think more Shelby Cobra, less Escort). There will also be the usual slew of other classic European and American cars, with sponsors like Maserati, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce showing off vehicles.

“You have the accessibility to these cars that you would never get the chance to look at otherwise.” says Tillson. “I once saw a little boy who was just so enamored with this rare Ferrari. I came back five minutes later, and there he was, just sitting behind the wheel and the owner was telling him the story of the car.”

That young enthusiast got a rare treat, in apparent violation of the Concours’s strictest rule—no touching. “The owner made an exception just for him—even the judges can’t touch the cars,” Tillson laughs. “At $30 million, it’s probably not a good idea.” September 12–14

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