The Manila Sports Car Club Concours d' Elegance by the Bay

The Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC), with the support of Sofitel Philippine Plaza and MTV, held its third Concours d' Elegance on April 27, 2007 at the magnificent bay-side gardens of the hotel.  In celebration of the club's 40th anniversary this year, the concours d' elegance - a contest in which cars are judged for originality and quality of restoration - featured 40 restored classic and vintage automobiles.  The entries ranged from the little French Citroen Deau Chevaux, to the expensive Mercedes Benz 300SL, known popularly as the "Gullwing" for its upward-swinging doors.  All competed for class wins and the grand prize - Best of Show. 

 In keeping with the organizer's theme, many of the entries were sports cars, mostly drawn from MSCC's ranks.  "Many of our cars weren't vintage cars when we started," said Andy Sta. Maria, a founder of the club, "but after 40 years, they simply became that."  Only cars manufactured before 1977 were eliigible for the event.  The Performance and Classic Enthusiasts Club of Cebu  shipped cars to Manila specially for the show, including a handsome 1966 Corvette owned formerly by the Philippine racing icon Dodgie Laurel and presently by Bobby Aboitiz.

 The winners were announced at a bow-tie dinner held in the evening of the event, which was attended by many members of the diplomatic corp.  For the al fresco affair, Sofitel Philippine Plaza set glass-topped dinner tables ("to reflect the stars above," according to the hotel's Assistant General Manager Mo Ihsan) with competing sports cars between them, including a gorgeous blue 1948 MG TC.  Gonzalo SyQuia, Acting Chair of MSCC, explained that bow-tie dinners are part of MSCC's tradition, but that the arrangements made by the hotel far exceeded the club's expectations.   "The formal dinner tables by the pool and the sea, the fantastic table arrangements, were just fabulous," said SyQuia.  MTV arranged entertainment, with songs from the vintage era provided live by The Brass Munkeys, performing on an island set in the middle of the hotel's free-form pool.  Art connoisseur Sonny Liwanag and popular model and singer Julia Duncan hosted the event.

 In the end, the imposing 1931 Pierce-Arrow "B" of Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. won the grand prize - a perpetual trophy in the shape of a radiator carved from the local wood kamagong with the famous antique Lalique crystal mascot Chrysis perched on top.  "It is a great car, wonderfully restored.  They did everything right," commented judge Atavit Suwanapakdee.  The 1956 Mercedes Benz 300SL of Ramon Torres and an unrestored 1962 Triumph TR4 of Amado Castro won the two remaining major prizes, the General Manager's Award and the Preservation Class Perpetual Trophy.

 Jorge See's 1953 Jaguar XK120 won Best of Class (Post-War Vintage).  Michael Aguilar's 1966 Jaguar XKE and 1973 Ferrari 246 GTS won Best of Class in the Early Golden Era and Modern classes, respectively,  Toti Scarella's 1964 Austin Cooper won the Late Golden Era category, while the crowd-pleasing 1957 Chevrolet Pick-up with wood sideboards owned by Alfred Perez beat more expensive American cars in the Classic category.

 The judges for the concours were Atavit Suwanapakdee of the Vintage Car Club of Thailand, Masaki Kouga, editor-in-chief of the Japanese vintage car magazine Oldtimer, Osamu Hasegawa of the Japan Classic Car Club, Ian Foster and Graham Allen, both with the Classic Car Club of Hong Kong, and Sofitel General Manager Bernd Schneider, himself an avid vintage car enthusiast.  Judge Ian Foster said about the event, "When I say this is the best concours I have attended in Asia, bar none ... I do mean it! Our Concours d' Elegance here ... have previously [been] held at the Jockey Club's Country facilities, which were beautiful, but not as perfect as the Sofitel." 

 Masaki Kouga said "This is my first visit to the Philippines.  I had heard in Japan about the high standards of the Manila Sports Car Club, but must confess I did not know what to expect.  I was completely surprised when I saw the location, the event, and the cars.  The entries were presented in beautiful surroundings, and the judges were provided every support.  The hotel was magnificent and service first-class.  The cars were extremely well restored, and some will win even in Japan or elsewhere.  Now I carry a very different impression of the Philippines."

 Jorge See, whose superb Jaguar XK120 roadster won its class, described his motivation for entering the competition, "I wanted to show the quality of work possible - what we can do - in the Philippines, and to motivate others and point would-be car restorers in the right direction."

 The concours was organized by the Manila Sports Car Club, managed by Tradeshow International, Inc., and was presented  by Sofitel Philippine Plaza, MTV Philippines, and Petron.  Other sponsors include Yokohama Tires,  Adam's Premium Car Care Products, Armvet, Deco Centrum, Rhodjane Trophies, Centrex, 105.1 Crossover, and  Dream 106.7.