Concours d’Caffeine Cruises Into Saugatuck Sunday

Two weeks ago, the train station was filled with electric vehicles. A road rally highlighted what proponents hope is the automotive wave of the future.

This Sunday (May 17, 8-11 a.m.), the station’s parking lots will again be filled with cars and their admirers. This time though, the focus is on the past.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a “Concours d’Caffeine.” It’s a morning to admire cars, in a relaxed, non-traffic-filled setting.

A Toquet touring car from 1905.

A Toquet touring car from 1905.

But the press release announcing the event buried the lead. Near the end, it said that Railroad Place will feature an exhibit of “Connecticut’s significant role” in US automotive history — “as well as the role Saugatuck played” in it.

In 1905, Saugatuck-based Toquet Motor Car and Construction Company built 5-seater touring cars. Who knew Westport once coulda been Detroit?

A dozen classic vehicles designed or manufactured in Connecticut will be on display. They include “the classic Pope Hartford, the exciting Bridgeport Locomobiles, classic Trumbulls (and) the more recent Fitch Phoenix and Sprint.”

Plus — here’s another buried gem — “the Cunningham C3, designed by Briggs Cunningham, a race car driver and sportsman from Westport.”

Briggs Cunningham's 1953 C-3 Cabriolet.

Briggs Cunningham’s 1953 C-3 Cabriolet. (Photo/Dan Savinelli)

Briggs Cunningham was, of course, much more than that. He skippered the victorious yacht Columbia in the 1958 America’s Cup race; he invented an eponymous device (the Cunningham) to increase the speed of racing sailboats — and he competed in the 24-hour race at Le Mans. To read more about him, click here.

But wait! There’s another buried lead! Also on display is a 720-horse Trans Am Camaro driven by Westport’s famous race car driver/actor/salad dressing purveyor, Paul Newman.

Paul Newman's race car will be displayed on Railroad Place.

Paul Newman’s race car will be displayed on Railroad Place.

Next to it will be a Volvo wagon (with a 405-horse Corvette engine). Newman built it himself, so he could grab groceries unnoticed (but with plenty of power).

The Concours d’Caffeine is the brainchild of Bill Scheffler, John Shuck, Tim Walsh and Frank Taylor. They organized its predecessor, the Concours d’Elegance, held at the Fairfield County Hunt Club.

CdC-logo-rgbEveryone is invited to bring their own cars. When the event is over, many participants will set out on a rally around Fairfield County, ending in Redding.

Gentlemen, start your (non-electric) engines!

(To learn more about the Concours d’Caffeine, click here.)

One response to “Concours d’Caffeine Cruises Into Saugatuck Sunday

  1. Dick Lowenstein

    Briggs Cunningham’s first wife was Westport’s Lucy Bedford and his daughter was Lucie McKinney. He died in 2003 at the age of 96. Although he married into Westport, technically he was from Southport (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/05/sports/briggs-cunningham-96-racecar-pioneer-and-sailing-champ.html)