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Concours D’Elegance boasts cars for all interests

A row of mustangs were displayed at the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance at the Keeneland Race Course on Saturday, July 18, 2015. Money raised at the car show went towards Children’s Hospital.
A row of mustangs were displayed at the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance at the Keeneland Race Course on Saturday, July 18, 2015. Money raised at the car show went towards Children’s Hospital. Herald-Leader

Organizers of Lexington’s 13th annual Concours D’Elegance are promising plenty of excitement for car enthusiasts when this year’s edition of the auto show opens Saturday at the Keeneland Race Course.

Between 140 and 150 cars will be competing for trophies and ribbons in various classes under the critical eyes of experienced judges, while up to 600 other vehicles of all descriptions will be on display in the paddock area, event co-chairman Tom Jones says.

“The paddock is like a car show within a car show,” Jones said. “I think this year is going to be our biggest presentation yet, with the highest quality of cars that I’ve ever seen. All of the classes will be be strong. But the Coach Built Class is just going to be insane.”

Chrysler is the featured make this year, with numerous examples of classic, unusual and high performance vehicles created by the company since its inception in the 1920s.

Of particular interest will be a luxurious Chrysler Imperial limousine that company founder Walter Chrysler ordered to be built especially for his wife.

On the high performance side, show-goers will be able ogle a batch of Dodge and Plymouth “winged racers” that the Chrysler company fielded for NASCAR competition in the late 1960s and early 1970s. If that’s not enough, car freaks can lust over a full-race Viper, another product of Chrysler’s performance engineers, as well as other hot Chrysler cars of past decades.

“It’s an unbelievable collection of cars that really represents a complete history of the automobile company,” Jones said.

For those who are less serious in their appreciation of fine cars, the show’s increasingly popular “Hollywood” class should offer plenty of appeal, organizers say. The class is devoted to vehicles that have appeared in, or been built especially for, movies and television shows.

This year, for example, the class will include a time-traveling DeLorean that actor Michael J. Fox drove in Back To The Future.

Other Hollywood cars in this year’s show will include a Batmobile signed by actor Adam West, who portrayed the Caped Crusader on television in the 1960s, and some cars that were used in The Great Race.

The Keeneland Concours was born in 2004, the result of a dream to provide car fans with lots of fun while also generating money for the Kentucky Childrens Hospital at the University of Kentucky. Since then, the annual event has raised about $700,000 for the hospital, which receives all proceeds. And it has provided car-lovers with chances to get close-up looks at rare and unusual cars that can be seen in few other places around the country, like a Ferrari that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans; a ballet-slipper-size Crosley that outran much bigger cars to win at Sebring; or a Ferrari race car built especially to run (unsuccessfully) at Indianapolis in the early 1950s.

Along the way, the Keeneland has become one of the leading car shows in the southern United States, Jones says.

“We’ve always gone for quality over quantity in putting the show together,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe that it’s been 13 years.”

If You Go

Concours D’Elegance

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Keeneland Race Course, 4201 Versailles Road

Admission: $20 per person at the gate; children under 12 are admitted free

Online: Keenelandconcours.com

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