How to ready your classic car for the International Concours d’Elegance

To prepare your classic car for an international concours d’elegance, you need to focus on three main areas:

Mechanical Condition

Ensure your car is in perfect running condition. The key areas to work on are:

  • Exhaust: The car should start with minimal smoke for a cleaner exhaust.[1]
  • Engine: The engine should run smoothly without wheezing or sputtering.[1]
  • Electrics: All electrical components like radio, cigarette lighter, and windows should function properly.[1]

Exterior Detailing

Your car must look immaculate inside and out. Here are some tips:

  • Clean and buff every nook and cranny, including the undercarriage. Use chamois leather and distilled water to avoid scratches and spotting.[1]
  • Thoroughly clean the engine bay as judges will inspect it closely.[1]
  • Vacuum the interior and condition the leather seats. Ensure no debris is present.[1]
  • Align the locking wheel nuts and straighten the hood ornament for perfect presentation.[1]

Documentation and Heritage

Gather all original branded paraphernalia that came with the car, such as first aid kit, seat covers, tool kits, and spare wheel.[1] Collect photos, old tax discs, or documentation showcasing the car’s history and heritage.[1]

Attention to detail is crucial. Walk around the car multiple times, inspecting every aspect until it looks flawless. Consider getting a fresh perspective from someone else.[1] Preparing your car’s story and heritage is as important as its mechanical and cosmetic condition for a concours d’elegance.


What are the most common mistakes to avoid when preparing a classic car for a concours?

Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when preparing a classic car for a concours d’elegance:

Mechanical Issues

  • Exhaust smoke or sputtering engine – The car should start cleanly with minimal smoke and run smoothly without wheezing or sputtering. (4)
  • Non-functioning electrics – All electrical components like radio, cigarette lighter, and windows must work properly. (4)

Exterior Detailing Flaws

  • Dirt or scratches – Every nook and cranny, including the undercarriage, must be thoroughly cleaned and buffed to a spotless finish. (4)
  • Neglected engine bay – The engine bay will be closely inspected, so it needs to be meticulously cleaned. (4)
  • Interior debris – The interior should be vacuumed with no pieces of debris on the floors or seats. (4)
  • Misaligned components – Details like locking wheel nuts and hood ornaments need to be perfectly aligned. (4)

Documentation and Heritage Issues

  • Missing original accessories – Gather all branded original items like tool kits, first aid kits, and spare wheels that came with the car. (4)
  • Lack of historical documentation – Collect photos, old tax discs, or paperwork showcasing the car’s unique history and heritage. (4)

Other potential mistakes mentioned include:

  • Wrong tires not period-correct for the car’s era. (2)
  • Modern battery or hardware like hose clamps instead of era-appropriate components. (2)
  • Missing trim pieces or empty holes in the interior. (2)
  • Lights that don’t look correct for the car’s era. (2)
  • Not being familiar with how the cars are scored and judged at concours events. (2)

Paying close attention to mechanical condition, cosmetic detailing, and documenting the car’s provenance can help avoid common pitfalls when presenting at a prestigious concours d’elegance. (1)(2)(4)


What historical documents should I gather to showcase my car’s heritage?

To showcase your classic car’s heritage at a prestigious concours d’elegance event, you should aim to gather the following historical documents:

Original Branded Accessories and Paraphernalia

  • First aid kit, tool kits, seat covers, spare wheel, and any other branded items that originally came with the car. (1)(4)
  • Owner’s manuals, sales brochures, and marketing materials from when the car was new. (4)

Documentation of Provenance and History

  • Original sales paperwork like the invoice, title, and registration documents tracing the ownership history. (1)(4)
  • Period photos or films showing the car when new or in its early years. (1)(4)
  • Restoration records, receipts for parts, and documentation of any major work done. (4)

Historical Context Materials

  • Contemporary automotive magazine road tests, reviews, or advertisements featuring the specific model. (4)
  • Archival materials like factory photos, engineering drawings, or design sketches related to the car’s development. (1)
  • Historical references that provide context on the car’s role, impact, or significance for that era. (1)

The more original documentation, period materials, and evidence you can provide of the car’s provenance and place in history, the better you can showcase its authentic heritage to judges. (1)(4) Meticulously gathering and preserving these historical artifacts is crucial for a concours-level presentation.