True grit at Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance

Much of what you’ll find during this weekend’s eighth annual, three-day Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance car show will be familiar, if seeing your face reflected in the gleaming fender of a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster can be called familiar.

An expertly curated display of more than 200 collectible automobiles and motorcycles will again add nostalgic glamour and punny humor to the driving range at the Boca Raton Resort and Club for Sunday’s main event. Friday’s Hangar Party at the Boca Raton Airport will offer its typical stylish elbow-rubbing with captains of industry, and at Saturday’s auction gala, comedian Wayne Brady will deliver a brand of banter reminiscent of entertainers who have preceded him, including Bob Newhart, Jay Leno, Bill Cosby and Howie Mandel.

As in years past, by the end of the weekend more than 7,500 people will have attended the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance, and the event’s beneficiary, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, will likely be a remarkable $1 million richer.

But this year’s edition of the Concours — with its classy locale, black-tie dinner and hushed reverence for the delicate allure of a pristine 1910 Ford Model T — also will offer something proudly lacking in d’elegance.

“A tuxedo? That’s not happening, dude. I may put a shirt on. That’s at best. Listen, I’m wearing jeans no matter what. Jeans and work boots is all I own.”

That’s Paul Teutul Sr., hot-tempered host of CMT’s motorcycle-building reality show “Orange County Choppers,” speaking from his shop a few miles up the Hudson River from New York. He’s laughing, but he’s not kidding.

The tattooed, take-no-guff patriarch, whose family drama fueled the Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper” for more than a decade, is making his Concours d’Elegance debut this weekend, displaying three of his custom-built motorcycles and offering a walk-on appearance on his show as an auction item.

A prolific motorcycle collector (he owns a dozen Harleys), Teutul is just as fanatical about cars.

“I’m into GTOs and 442s. I go from 1964 to 1972, because that was most of the high-compression years. But they’re all convertibles, and they’re all four-speed,” says Teutul, who plans to have people standing between him and his checkbook at the Concours. “I’m always in a buying mood.”

ROAD MASTERS
The Concours is a fantasyland for those with a historical appreciation for the automobile — and for people looking for a great way to soak up some of South Florida’s enviable winter sun. Among the memorable cars seen at the 2013 Concours were a 1926 Bugatti 35T, 1928 Pierce-Arrow Coupe, 1940 Cadillac 62 Series Convertible, 1948 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, 1955 Buick Roadmaster, 1970 Lamborghini Miura and a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS.

Cars compete in judging based on their originality and the quality of the painstaking restoration that often leaves them in better condition than when they left the factory. While on the show field, their appearance is kept flawless, with feather dusters at the ready.

Mercedes-Benz is the featured carmaker at this year’s Concours, showcasing classic and one-of-a kind vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany along with the newest models. Wayne Carini, master car restorer and host of “Chasing Classic Cars” on the Velocity channel, is the grand marshal for the weekend. Sunday’s main event, which drew 5,000 attendees in 2013, also includes top-shelf food and drink, and exhibits from mainstream and niche manufacturers.

While indulging his affection for cars and motorcycles, the chance to help an organization such as the Boys and Girls Clubs made the event irresistible for Teutul. The clubs provide educational, nutritional and mentoring help to more than 12,000 youngsters from Broward County (and some in southern Palm Beach County) whose homes are stressed by economic woes, poor education, substance abuse and other challenges.

Teutul has faced his own demons. The man who used to return to work after drinking a quart of whiskey on his lunch break, now has been sober for nearly 30 years. It’s a path he hopes more people will follow.

“Once you get cleared up a little, you start figuring out what life is really about,” he says. “Any time you can give back, make a difference in people’s lives, that’s very important.”

THE PIZZAZZ OF PAUL
Brian Quail, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, acknowledges that the presence of Teutul may help knock off some of the perceived formality of the Concours d’Elegance (originally a carriage competition in 17th century France) and encourage a wider range of attendees. He credits event chairman Jamie McDonnell for the idea.

“It was an opportunity to remind people that, along with the cars, we’ll have more than 50 motorcycles that are an important part of our display,” Quail says. “Paul brings another element, another level of pizzazz to the event.”

There are many similar shows each year on the Concours circuit in locations such as Greenwich, Conn.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Pebble Beach, Calif.; and the Louis Vuitton Classic in New York. While each of these events has a charitable component, the Boca Raton show is unique.

South Florida car dealer Rick Case and wife Rita, longtime supporters of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, created the Boca Raton Concours as a way to help raise money for the organization. Case and AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson used their vast industry connections to quickly put the Boca Raton Concours on the map.

“It’s interesting, in the world of vintage car shows, most Concours have a charity. We’re a charity that has a Concours,” Quail says.

Also unique, he says, is that the South Florida show is put on entirely by Boys and Girls Clubs staff and more than 200 volunteers, which means all the money raised ($1 million in 2013) goes to services for the children.

“Our Concours, we’re told, raised more money for charity than any other,” Quail says.

BOCA RATON CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE
When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Boca Raton Resort and Club, 501 E. Camino Real
Cost: $50 (younger than 12 free)
Contact: 954-537-1010 or BocaCDE.com
Related events: Sunday’s show will be preceded by the duPont Registry Live Hangar Party at the Boca Raton Airport 6-9 p.m. Friday (tickets $100), and the Gala Dinner Show and Auction, featuring comedian Wayne Brady, at the Boca Raton Resort 7-10 p.m. Saturday (tickets begin at $500).

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