Featured: The Bridge 2021: Curation, Clichés, And Kick-Ass Car Shows In The Hamptons

The Bridge 2021: Curation, Clichés, And Kick-Ass Car Shows In The Hamptons

By Kieran Buttrick
September 29, 2021

Photography by Kieran Buttrick

Of all the vocabulary used to define car shows, “curated” is surely one of the most used and least often warranted descriptors. Its usage has become so commonplace at this point—we’re guilty, too—that an event is likely to stand out more so for not using the label. But like all clichés, there are still genuine examples out there to remind us where they came from. For its fifth edition just passed, The Bridge brought together a truly curated group of vehicles together for a car show that the organizers would rather have you call a garden party.

If that sounds a little bit frilly, well, it kind of is. The grounds of the former Bridgehampton circuit are now one of the many golf courses in the Hamptons. Each year—barring pandemics—this golf course becomes host to an invite-only showing of roughly 300 of the world’s rarest, fastest, most expensive, and most influential cars. There are automotive journalists and columnists from the society pages taking notes and photos. It’s not exactly a grassroots get-together at the local strip mall. It’s also very easy to rag on all of it, but it’s more fun to enjoy it for what it is. A garden party, sure, but to me it’s just a plain old good group of cars. Between groups of Jaguar Le Mans machines, Ferrari GTOs across time, McLaren’s supercar evolution, or cars that once raced on the old Bridgehampton circuit, one could even call the whole thing curated.

Regardless of the quality of the cars and the uniformity of the manicured lawn—“manicured lawn” is another good car show article trope—the best part of the weekend to me (a 20-something who thrives on local get-togethers in strip mall parking lots) is the fact that the day after the invite-only show, the organizers put on a different but equally large effort for an open-to-all Cars and Coffee event the following morning. Many of the cars from The Bridge make their appearances here, a live band is playing, good food is on site, and the surrounding streets are understandably brimming with cars and people. Photography-wise, it’s nice to have less legs to shoot through on an impeccable golf course, but from a general audience perspective I have to say the Cars and Coffee version of The Bridge is arguably more fun than the more exclusive version that makes up most of this gallery.

It would be impossible to adequately touch on every vehicle that caught my eye, as The Bridge presents one with the problem of quality and quantity. To walk around the course is to engage in a nearly constant weighing of opportunity costs. You are equally enthralled by whatever you’re looking at, but there’s also some guilty nagging feeling that you should be looking at something else. It’s a testament to not just the overall level of the cars, but the diversity between them. From one of Stuart Parr’s people carrying oddities to the current cutting edge of carbon-tubbed two-seaters, The Bridge is not short of different automotive genres.

The time that I spent having my attention stretched in every direction went by at a faster pace than my watch suggested, and while I would have liked more time to talk to more people about their cars, I barely stopped shooting and moving. A common lamentation on the modern state of “things” is that we’re too absorbed in recording what we do to truly experience any of it. There’s obviously some merit to that—you don’t need to record a dozen blurry inaudible clips of every concert you attend—but I know that these photos will only bolster the general memory of the day with the concrete evidence of why I had so much fun. Some people were having a terrific time eating and drinking and barely noticing the cars. I had a terrific time scurrying between them trying to capture them in their best light. Different strokes, different folks, etc. Whether or not the whole to-do is your idea of a car show or a garden party, I think we can all agree that the cars are, to use a less pretentious word, cool. And at the bottom of it all, isn’t that the only thing that really matters?

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brian smith
brian smith
1 year ago

You are a remarkable photographer and an outstanding writer. This is the second time I’ve attended “The Bridge” and you captured it all very well here. I’ve been to Pebble Beach, and I’m impressed that the organizers do not try to mimic what they do. I was blown away by not only the quality of the cars, but the variety, too. Any event of this stature that dares to invite an 80’s Camaro race car and have a Ferrari G.T.O. is my kind of show. Terrific job by you and The Bridge! ~Brian Smith