Concours Judging
By Geoff Wheatley

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Concours Judging
By Geoff Wheatley, 2012 ©

Geoff Wheatley

Concours Judging

As I have been a Concours Judge for a number of years may I offer the prospective from the other side of the check board! First most Concours vehicles are just that and it can be extremely difficult to make judgment re one car against another unless the ashtray has not been empted! Having said that I have seen beautiful examples of motor cars shining bright with dazzling chrome and all the original requirements that have a radiator filled with winged wildlife accumulated over many months. The usual reply to this observation was that this most have happened driving to the event usually a distance of a few miles from the spot where the owner's trailer was parked. I recall one situation where I sincerely felt sorry for the presenter. The car, a Porsche was in excellent condition and I was sufficiently impressed to make that comment after I had completed the inspection with a fellow colleague. (Most events require at least two individuals to judge each car in their selected group.) The car had just completed an expensive restoration and as I have indicated it showed. Walking to the rear of the car to confirm on out score sheets we noticed a reverse light that neither of us has inspected. I asked for the owner to select reverse expecting the light to burst in action. Nothing happened. The owner asked if he could check the bulb and of course we said fine. He removed the cover to find that no bulb had been fitted during the restoration. That was five points off his score which placed the car in second place to an equally nice example of the breed. The last thing I saw him do was raise hell on his cell phone, I suspect the restoration company were getting a roasting!

On another occasion when I was judging early British cars, (I frequently get these groups due to my English back ground and knowledge of such vehicles accumulated over many years) In this particular case the cars in question were two early post war sports, both beautiful examples of the MGTC. In both cases they were completely original and relevant to the period. Both my colleague and myself were stumped therefore I asked the Chief Judge if he would split the top award for this group...The answer a very firm NO! So back to the cars for the third time. By chance I noticed that one had Phillip screws in the windshield and as the car was 1947 vintage this was not correct as Philip screws were not in use until the early 50's so that solved the problem! The owner asked me after the show what was wrong with his car and I told him. He thanked me and said the screws would be changed within a few hours!

There are simple things that some exhibitors simply do not appreciate. Example: Do not fit modern aircraft style branded fuel hose to a pre war car it may stop the leak but will lose you points. Clean the engine before you show the car this may sound obvious but I have seen cars shining like the star on the Christmas tree with oil and other delights under the hood. I don't expect a pristine compartment especially if the car has been driven to the event but five minutes with a rag and some cleaner will work wonders especially with the judges! If the Judge asks a question respond but don't proceed to tell him the history of the car, why you have it and what your wife thinks about the money you spend! Keep all comments short and to the point. Remember that to be a judge you have to have an extensive knowledge of the cars you are evaluating that's why we are allocated to specific groups of vehicles. Do not try to show a car with different types/brands of tire, unless the original was fitted that way and there were a few that followed this practice for various reasons. Clean your tires and equally important make sure the spare is in/on the car and useable. Yes I do ask to see the spare and I make sure it has air.. All to often they don't!

If the spare is located in the trunk make sure it can be both seen and inspected so, remove the extra folding chair, emergency food hamper, semi cold beer and the collection of various publications that you intended to read to pass the time before departing. You can put them back after I have moved on! If you happen to have a set of the original tool kit that is certainly a extra point or two but make sure that it is original not something put together from the collection of tools found in the garden shed! If a modification has been made to the car tell the judge or more important tell the officials when you register the vehicle. If it's an acceptable modification by that I mean something that was available during production there should be no trouble, However, and I have experienced this situation, when a car had an original column gear change and someone has fitted a different gear box to enable the use of a floor shift that's not original or acceptable even if you know of other people who have done this. At this point do not argue with the judge its will not work and he or she may simply walk away from your vehicle and move on to another car in the group! As yet I have never been offered a real bribe but have refused a semi-cold beer on a hot summer's day in case someone thinks otherwise! Most Judges are social people who have a professional knowledge of the cars they review. None of us get paid. Quite the reverse, but we are, like you dedicated car people,
© 2012 Geoff Wheatley Contributing Writer