Video: Judges reveal what it takes to win at a Concours d’Elegance

What does it take to win at a Concours d’Elegance? Is it as simple as showing up with a clean car, or is there secret black art to securing a trophy?

To find out, we ask concours judges what they look for on the show field so you can win best in class at your next concours.

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essjatee New Reader
1/26/23 6:50 p.m.

This video was very informative, and I appreciate the effort to educate us neofytes, as to how we should approach a Concours event. Firstly, I totally enjoy the competition- and the participants, whoever they are. My experience is sometimes you are in the wrong class for your car. I'd love to know who decides- I never will. Should the top be up- or down. No one ever will give you a straight answer. Just give it your best, and have a good time.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/27/23 9:12 a.m.

In reply to essjatee :

Glad you liked the video, I know I learned quite a bit too. I hear you on the convertible, I'd probably spend hours looking at the car with the top up and the top down.

In the end, I think you have the right frame of mind: "Just give it your best, and have a good time." I think if you stick with that, the judges will take note.

1/30/23 11:14 a.m.

In reply to essjatee :

Pretty decent video

Concours shows can be very challenging and can be very rewarding as well.  Having spent more than a year developing our clubs guidelines for our annual event, here is what I would recommend.  Research the event.  Does the event have published guidelines and defined classes.  If all they have is a listing of loose classes and nothing else, then you might come away scratching your head wondering what just happened after the event?

Well run concours events will have published guidelines and rules by which the participants must follow, as well as the judges.  This information should be available from the organization's website.  Jaguar, Southern California Porsche 356 club and PCA all have published guidelines.  Even with these guidelines, there always seems to be "dust-ups" about the process.

To win or place in any concours, you have to have a little luck to go with your well-prepared car.  Remember your car is judged by human beings, not robots.  Each judge will see something different and they don’t always look for the same things every year.  A well prepared Judge will have list of items that they will look for based on their category assignment.  That list creates consistency in their judging across the number of cars they judge that day. Do they make mistakes?  Sure, they do, but that is the human element in the process. So, control the things that you can control.  Bring a well-prepared car AND documentation to support anything that might be  questionable in the judging process. It is a great experience whether you place or not.  You will always learn something new about the cars and you meet a lot of people who share your passion for the same marque.


Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/30/23 2:18 p.m.

In reply to erutherford :

Solid advice. Research might sound obvious, but I'm sure plenty of participants at every level have overlooked it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/14/23 3:02 p.m.

I was asked to judge an event this spring. The organizer has asked how we should judge the entrants.

So, if starting from scratch, how would you grade a group of show cars? 

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