Our enterprise, Undiscovered Classics, is all about research – especially the hard to get to “stuff”. Undiscovered Classics is about:
- Uncovering the history of the early postwar sports car marques such as Glasspar, Victress, and more.
- Revealing the stories found in rare postwar sports car books and magazines like Cars and Clubs, Sports Car Guide, Auto Sportsman as well as Northwest Rods.
- Diving into archives such as John Bond’s (Road & Track Magazine) archive in Kettering University, Howard Dutch Darrin’s archive at Syracuse University, and the Benson Ford Research Center to name a few.
And Undiscovered Classics is about research into the authors themselves as it is with our story today on Joseph H. Wherry and his 1969 book “Concours d’Elegance.”
While Wherry wrote many articles and books during his life, we’ll concentrate on just this one today. From our research, this is the first full book on the history of Concours d’Elegance events published in America. Our tradition started in 1950 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and by the publication of this book 19 years later, there was much to discuss both in retrospect and guidelines for the future. It’s the quality of the book, the beauty of the photos, the excellence of the author and the topic which makes this a relevant book for automobile aficionados of today – all 196 pages of it.
I’ll present parts of the book below, and at the end of this article, I’ll discuss other items we found concerning Concours d’Elegance history that we’ll share in the near future. For now, read on and I hope you enjoy.
Joseph Wherry – The Author
I first noticed Wherry’s name on an article from 1952 called “Sweet Molded Bodies.” I acquired the magazine through good friend and historian Tony St. Clair, and the magazine name was “Modern Man” – a Gentleman’s Magazine.
Since this was not a typical car magazine, I asked another historian friend Harold Pace about the author and he shared that Joseph Wherry was a well-respected author who wrote detailed and accurate pieces in the automotive world. Over the years I’ve started to accumulate Wherry’s books and articles and I hope to showcase some of his work in the archive section of our website in the near future:
“Where Antique, Vintage and Classic Cars Gather and the Excellence of their Restoration is Rewarded”
Hardbound: 196 pages
By Joseph H. Wherry
Published by Howell-North Books, Berkeley, California (1969)
I’ll share parts of the book in today’s story including an overview on the dust jacket, about the author, acknowledgments, dedications and the preface. Each of these sections are below.
Front Inside of Dust Jacket: Overview of Book
- 332 Beautiful photographs with 8 in full color
- Car Club Rosters – Automotive Museums
Excerpt From The Book:
“The number of Concours d’Elegance increases annually and the attendance at them is burgeoning. This book tells why. Elements which assure a successful convours are discussed along with the classes of cars and the judging. Then follows advice on purchasing an old car and the basic essentials of its restoration.
The mechanical excellence and the craftsmanship of old cars is pointed out and evidence is presented that many “new” features such as all-steel convertible tops made their appearance long ago. Antique, Vintage and Classic cars each have devoted to them a section of the book wherin there are detailed essays on various marques of many national origins along with clear and excellent pictures showing front views, rear views, engines, details of cabinet work, upholstery and unusual features of each car. For each class of car there is a picture album of other makes in the field making evident the appeal of their vintage.
Old cars never die but become more valuable as the numbers of their make become fewer and as their parts become increasingly harder to replace. Here lies the challenge and the fun. the victory of restoration is celebrated at a Concours d’Elegance – and that is where, most likely, one will become intrigued by still another car and the cycle will start again.”
Rear Inside of Dust Jacket: About the Author
Excerpt From The Book:
“Joseph H. Wherry was born in Everett, Washington where his interest in things Indian began, and resulted, eventually in his writing the Totem Pole Indians and Indian Masks and Myths of the West. The others of his 12 published books are all automotive, and among these are Economy Car Blitz, Antique and Classic Cars, The MG Story, The Jaguar Story, tThe Alfa Romeo Story, Automobiles of the World and now Concours d’Elegance.
He has been a contributor to Motor Trend and Road and Track magazines, and from 1956 to 1958 was the Detroit editor of Motor Travel. He formerly tested cars for magazines and has driven virtually every make of car in current production, including several made in eastern Europe. Of cars he has tested, his favorit was a 5-speed 170 mph Pegaso.
Mr. Wherry is a fine photographer and illustrates most of his works. With his family, he now resides in California.”
Inside Cover and Table of Contents
The book is large in size (approximately 8 and 1/2 by 11 inches) and in scope or depth – nearly 200 pages. It’s quite a tome. The book is divided into 5 parts as follows:
- Part 1: Concours d’Elegance
- Part 2: The Appeal of Old Cars
- Part 3: A Concours d’Elegance of Antique Cars
- Part 4: A Concours d’Elegance of Vintage Cars
- Part 5: A Concours d’Elegance of Classic Cars
Wherry’s book also contains 3 appendices with the most valuable section being on “suggested related reading.”
- Appendix A: Automobile Clubs
- Appendix B: Suggested Related Reading
- Appendix C: Automobile Museums
Check out the inside cover page and the full Table of Contents page below:
In his Acknowledgments section at the front of his book, you can see the meticulous care he gave in obtaining the best information that he could to create a book which would document the field of Concours d’Elegance events. His book serves as an excellent historical record of concours events, how they were seen at that point in time and a body of knowledge that can be built upon by future authors in this field.
The Preface page to the Concours book appears below.
Sample Of Cars And Photos in Book
You won’t be disappointed. All the big names are there for 1969, but Wherry included some up and coming marques too. Check out some of the photos below.
The Wherry Concours d’Elegance Manuscript Surfaces
As I often say: “The harder you work….the luckier you get.”
Several years ago as I was searching on eBay using my usual keywords and came across a large volume of Wherry photos and archives. In going thru these materials, I found a number of articles and photos from the American Specials of the 1950s as well as this manuscript below. I was honored to be able to buy these materials and will share more of them in future stories. But the crème de la crème for me was finding this manuscript.
I’ve shared a few pages of this handwritten manuscript below and you can get the sense of what great effort it took to compile this book. Those of us who write articles and books have mostly moved to computers (there may be a few stalwarts out there who still write everything out by hand). I remember making the transition to computers when I was writing papers in the late 1980s. It took a few months, but the benefits outweighed the efforts of changing. Going back to writing on paper would certainly be an effort now, and I’m reminded of this by looking at the manuscript below.
Where can you find a copy of this book? Thankfully they show up from time to time on eBay. Occasionally on Amazon too. Might I have secreted away a copy or two? You never know unless you ask 🙂
So what else did our research into the documentation of concours reveal? Well….two other points of note, and I’m sure more will surface as our research continues.
- My good friend Bob Cunningham (click here to learn more about this automobile historian extraordinaire) found a book called “Sports Car Events” published in 1959 which covers Gymkhana, Autocross, Hillclimb, Concours d’Elegance and Trials. It’s a small booklet size and the section on concours is just 9 pages, but we’ll cover this in a future story.
- An article about concours penned by Strother MacMinn which we’ll share in the near future too.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.