First New York City Concours blends the automotive lifestyle and urban fashion

Over the years, New York has hosted thousands of car events, but few have ever occurred in Manhattan, much less on a rooftop. This past Saturday, I attended the inaugural New York City Concours, held on the roof of the Pier 17 facility in the Seaport District, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Putting on an event in a place like this brings some interesting challenges.

NYC Inaugural Concours Cobra
Brad Phillips

The first thing most people wonder when they hear about a car event in Manhattan is: how do they even get all the cars into the city? Depending on if you value convenience or bravery, there are a couple of ways to go. The most obvious way is to just have your enclosed transporter do the job for you. Probably 90 percent of the participants elected to do this. The trailers were on site and ready to unload by 5:30 a.m.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

The other way is by sheer bravery. Several owners opted to take the adventurous route and just drive straight into the city. One participant drove his BMW 507 to New York from Boston, Massachusetts, arriving in the early morning, as well. I’ve done this myself, and believe me, the time of day makes an incredible difference in whether or not this strategy works.

NYC Inaugural Concours BMW 507
Brad Phillips

Okay, so the cars are emerging from the trailers and onto the street. How did we get 30 cars up to the roof of this building? One big freight elevator did the trick! We had a dedicated operator, and for about two hours we just went up and down taking cars to the roof and staging them in rough position.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

There was an area behind the building where the cars could be parked temporarily, so nothing had to be on the street competing with civilian traffic as the day got busy. We had some pretty interesting stuff hanging out for a little bit, like this one-off, Corvette ZR-1-based show car and a Lamborghini Countach.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

The car display was managed by Tom Papadopoulos and his team from Autosport Designs, and it was sort of an automotive ballet to get the cars positioned according to the prearranged map. But up they went. 

New York City Inaugural Concours Aston Martin DB5
Brad Phillips

As the sun rose, the rooftop got a little warmer. It was looking like a nice day, something you always hope for with an outdoor event. We had a great variety of cars, some like you’d see in most concours settings like a 300SL Gullwing and a Ferrari Daytona, and others like a time warp “street to strip” Barracuda from the 1970s.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

One of the main goals of hosting the concours on the rooftop was to take advantage of the incredible views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skyline, the East River, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The Seaport District is near the southern tip of Manhattan, so we enjoyed sweeping views of many of New York’s most iconic buildings to savor with the food, music, and beverages—and, of course, the cars.

NYC Inaugural Concours Show
Gene Leeds

There were some interesting rules to abide by to even have the cars on the roof. The cars had to be officially inspected and could have no more than 1/8th of a tank of fuel. As soon as each car was in position, the batteries had to be disconnected.

The FDNY had a say in the final permit; they had to check off that the cars had been displayed according to the pre-approved plan, with plenty of room around each one in case of fire or sudden crowd movement. It was very thorough, as one would expect. They weren’t too sure what to say about the race cars, but fortunately that wasn’t a problem!

New York City Inaugural Concours
Gene Leeds

While the event was officially called the New York City Concours, I’d really call this a lifestyle event, because it brought cars together with New York’s fashion and lifestyle. An award was given, as fitting for a concours, but it was the People’s Choice award and pretty low-key. Along with the live music all day by the Borough Boys, there were displays of collectible sneakers, Hublot watches, and fine motorsports art—fun in the sun, with a very urban twist.

New York City Inaugural Concours Dino
Gene Leeds

There was a great mix of cars, and the focus was certainly on iconic vehicles that people of all automotive backgrounds could appreciate. The display included two legendary poster cars: a Lamborghini Countach and a Porsche 930 Turbo. Genteel offerings from Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin were also part of the mix. It was even a family affair for many, with lots of the next generation checking everything out.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Gene Leeds

For about an hour, we had a great time providing an entertaining walking forum discussion about the cars as part of Hagerty’s programming. We talked values, history, and why these 30 particular cars meant something to the world.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

As the sun set, the twinkly lights of the city appeared around us—it was just the backdrop everyone was hoping for.

New York City Inaugural Concours
Brad Phillips

It was a great first effort for this concours. The winning People’s Choice car was the 300SL Gullwing, and the owner received some fantastic awards, including a large trophy, $3500 in cleaning products from Gliptone, and a beautiful wall clock by the Swiss watchmaker Hublot.

Happily, the cars went back down and into the trailers just as easily as they came up. Overall, a wonderful afternoon and evening—can’t wait until next year!