The world's most prestigious car show celebrated the 100th anniversary of General Motors last month by hosting a selection of classic GM automobiles nestled amongst the nearly 200 classic cars from across the world. After countless years in a junkyard, 10 years of restoration and nine years on the car show circuit, Woody, a Buick #555 Estate Wagon, vintage 1949, cruised into the 58th annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and cruised out with an award.
Patrick McHenry, lifelong resident of Brentwood, has owned the Buick Roadmaster woodsided car since 1984. It took 10 years, more money than I want to think about, a lot of hard work, and nerves of steel to bring this car back to life, he said. But here it is.
McHenry explains that his car is a total restoration taken down to its basic elements. What was usable was made to be new again. What was not reusable was either purchased as new old stock or fabricated using original materials. All the outside wood on the car has been replaced. The wood was so badly deteriorated that it couldn't serve as a pattern for replacement. Using American ash and imported Philippine mahogany, the craftsman working on the body was forced to cut and carve each piece to fit.
When McHenry has Woody polished and ready for a show, you need two pairs of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the shine. The grill work alone will blind you, said a friend.
I have always had a love affair with cars, said McHenry. I enjoy my car and I drive it regularly. It was such an honor for me and my car to even be considered for the Concours d'Elegance. I go to many Concours shows, and my car has taken first place at all the shows, including the Buick Club of America National Car Show in Seattle last year.
We have won both Best of Show and Most Elegant Closed Car. What sets this car apart from others is that Buick made this body style for only one year. It is a big car with a lot of wood and a modern, sleek, post-war design. The car is powered by Buick's famous Fireball 8 engine and the infamous Dynaflow transmission.
We took third place at Pebble, which would normally upset me. However, I was happy with the win. My car is a 10-year-old restoration. The first place was a brand-new restoration and had never before been shown. Second place went to a recent restoration. It is hard to beat that kind of bling with 10-year-old paint, said McHenry.
The Concours is a weeklong event that includes a 60-mile Tour d' Elegance starting at Pebble Beach and ending on Ocean Avenue in Carmel. It was wonderful, said McHenry. All along the tour, the roads were lined with people smiling, waving and taking pictures.
McHenry was honored to have Valentino Balboni, official test driver for Lamborghini, as a guest passenger for the tour. We were breathless when we turned the corner onto Ocean Avenue and saw the hordes of people waiting for us said McHenry.
The rest of the week was filled with kick-off parties, gala balls and car auctions. However, the biggest thrill was driving off the ramp and having people step forward and congratulate me and express how much they liked my car. I feel like my car is a work of art and I am its caretaker.