‘The Bridge’ Is An Example Of Curated Concours In America
Photography by Kieran Buttrick
What is the template for a concours? Not any two are identical of course, but I think some base ingredients can be found in most of their recipes: they’re typically held in Europe, and it’d be a good bet to place them on the grounds of something built out of stone and hundreds of years ago. That being the typical setting for these posh car parties doesn’t diminish their splendor necessarily, but there does come a point where even the best meals leave you with an appetite wandering elsewhere if you’ve had enough in succession. The Bridge, in just its second year, proves that Pebble Beach and Amelia Island are not the only American offerings in this arena.
Located in New York’s Hamptons, and held on the golf course of the same name, The Bridge is a young event but one that’s steeped in history already. Reason being that the evenly-clipped lawns that host these cars used to be the site of one of America’s earliest and most difficult tracks: Bridgehampton Race Circuit. Last year we interviewed one of the event founders, Jeffrey Einhorn, to dive a bit into the background of the venue and the private concours now held here each year, so rather than retread that story again, I want to focus on the sensation of coming to the show for the first time.
Driving into the gates, I am first greeted by a large Chevron Gasoline sign before catching sight of the cars, putting in mind the competitive arena that this place once was. Indeed, there are relics of this hallowed circuit dotting the show, from old pieces of advertising to crumbled sections of the old asphalt and the Chevron Bridge. I am here for the cars of this era being displayed today though, and the first clump I see are parked on the pristine grass plots in front of the contemporary clubhouse. It’s a pair of sharp silver Italians, and the combination of Ghibli and Daytona against the modern slatted walls is a perfect reminder of timelessness of great design.
Walking around the rear of the modern glass and metal structure I lay eyes on another disparate group: a BMW Isetta, a Cadillac Eldorado, and a sculpted sphere that looks like some kind of ice cream truck ripped from a Douglas Adams story. It’s a joyous mashup, but do not confuse this event with being anything geared towards the comedic, as there is some serious stuff splayed across the soft hills and dips of the course. To name a few: a Jaguar XKSS, a Ferrari 250 California and 121 LM Scaglietti Spider, a Lamborghini Countach “Periscopio,” a Carrera GTS/904, a McLaren M6A, a Le Mans Corvette campaigned by Chinetti’s N.A.R.T. team, an Aston Martin DB3S, and a 356 Speedster that competed here in the period. That’s not the entire entry list, but it should help give an idea of how overloaded my optic nerves were as I swung my head back and forth trying to wrap it around the idea of all these cars and the lives they’ve lived coming together in one point of time and space.
Being a private event, I wasn’t surprised by the sea of pastel pants and sweaters around necks, and the champagne flutes that are seemingly requisite at any concours of this level were of course reflecting light and making their delicate clinks against one another throughout the day. Despite the typical attire and accoutrements though, there were certainly a bunch of unique personalities at the event though, including Christopher Pagani on one end of the fame scale, and a man who’d lugged his collection of vintage telescopes on the other.
Continuing my initial survey of the scene, I found myself walking along the hillside that tumbled down toward the Peconic Bay, and it was here that I found the most apt vehicles for this place, a group of Italian classics from Lancia, Alfa, and Fiat that’d been converted into these charming open-air transporters that call into question the bleak boringness associated with the word “utility.”
I then bent my steps over to the long adjacent green, which is where I encountered yet another shift in discipline: here I found no more jolly little eccentricities from Italy, but rather a group of brutes from the halcyon days of what we all like to call American Muscle. Among them a GT350, a Z/28 Camaro, a modified Dart, and of course a couple of Sting Rays. Cozied up with the Corvettes were pairs of GT40s and 246 Dinos, along with a lone 365 Daytona, bringing it back to the European side of the Atlantic. From this spot my horizon was punctured by the distinctive form of Gullwings in the distance, but in order to get there I first had to pass by a smattering of Aston Martins. If it hasn’t become clear enough, there was a fantastic amount of aesthetic pleasure coming from every side of me, and I was frequently caught wanting to somehow photograph everything at once. The limits of reality forced me to move in sequence though, and after passing by the DB5s and Vantages I came across the brilliant bright red 904 I’d mentioned earlier. Sat against the alien perfection of the golf course’s green, the lightweight mid-engined Porsche looks perfectly presented here, a relic of humanity’s engineering achievement in a single artifact so steeped in art and function.
Tearing myself away, I then come upon the Gullwings I’d honed in on from afar. The pair was accompanied by two 300SL roadsters as well, one of which was especially captivating. The Linden Green roadster donning a black hard top was something I’d never seen the likes of before, and after speaking to the restorer of this example, I was told it was just one of four produced in this color. Go figure. Beyond the unique hue, it was spec’d to the maximum Mercedes optionality, including the Rudge wheels of course, and the complementary yellow headlight bulbs.
It is difficult even now to grasp the entire event and encapsulate all that it had to offer, but I think a lot of what makes it unique is found in the overall atmosphere rather than the individual entrants. It’s about shunning the roped-off kinds of concours, but while still celebrating the spectacle we put on around those high-dollar events. It’s about arranging the cars in a natural way, along a sort of path that compels a flowing type of viewership rather than bunching them all around a single space. It’s about keeping it interactive, like putting the Audi Quattro and ICON 4×4 FJ on the sand traps. It’s about reimagining what a concours can be, being thoughtful in selecting the venue, the cars, the layout, and the mood. In only its second year running, I find this event has already shifted perceptions of what makes a concours stand out from the masses, or anyways, it’s certainly changed my mind.