Top collector cars to come to DIA next year for Concours d’Elegance of America

One of the most famous muscle cars ever made in Detroit, the Black Ghost is sure to be a big draw at the premier auto enthusiast show, the Concours d’Elegance of America, in Plymouth, west of Detroit, next month .

The Black Ghost, a triple black Dodge Challenger from 1970, is a Detroit legend steeped in mystique and street history. Dodge only made a few dozen of these. Its first owner, Godfrey Qualls, was a Detroit police officer who kept his car a secret. He drove it out to a drag race on Woodward Avenue at night and smoked everyone at a top speed of 135 mph at the time.

“Nobody knew who he was. He drove a few races and then disappeared,” said Gregory Qualls, Godfrey’s son and owner of the car. “People looked for the car to come back and from time to time it would turn up, win a few races, and then go away.”

The Black Ghost is one of several of the top 250 cars shown at the Concours d’Elegance of America with Detroit connections. Those connections make it fitting for the Concours of America to finally move the event to Motor City, said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of specialty vehicle insurance company Hagerty. Hagerty took over Concours of America earlier this year.

Starting next year, the Detroit Institute of Arts will host the Concours of America, an event where rare and collectable cars are exhibited and judged. It will also be postponed to September, but more details and exhibition dates will be announced later. The show will take place from July 23-25 ​​this year at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth – where it has been taking place since 2010.

“We will bring the best cars in the world here to the DIA and hopefully to the entire surrounding neighborhood,” Hagerty said at a media briefing in front of the museum on Wednesday. “We’re working on these details now.”

Hagerty owns three concours events: the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance off the Florida coast, which Hagerty bought on June 23; the Concours d’Elegance of America at Plymouth; and the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Connecticut, purchased in 2019.

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Concours of America is in its 42nd year. Last year it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Hagerty took over, she asked the board to reevaluate the event. said Hagerty. The board of directors of the Concours of America told him his dream had always been to hold the event in Detroit. The event initially took place at Oakland University’s Meadow Brook Hall.

“These cars are really stylish first and foremost, and a car in the right environment looks different than it does on an everyday road,” said Hagerty. “When you realize that Detroit is going through this amazing renaissance in recent years, COVID was tough for everyone, but the momentum was still there. We said, ‘Let’s find out how to do it.’ “

In about two months, Hagerty said, Concours and the DIA had reached an agreement. Part of the DIA’s openness to the auto show was the fact that it has an exhibit called “Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City, 1950-2020”.

The Concours of America event will generate a lot of business and buzz, Hagerty said. A ticket costs $ 35, and the shows typically attract around 10,000 car enthusiasts from around the world. So Hagerty works with nearby hotels and restaurants.

“We have to secure several hotels, you want to work with restaurants, you want to show people where to eat, you need food trucks to make these things really work,” said Hagerty. “Detroit is experiencing a renaissance, but we need this event to be a shining light of what it can be.”

For car enthusiasts like Qualls, being able to showcase his father’s car at the DIA on Woodward Avenue, where it once drove, is something very special.

Godfrey Qualls died in 2015 at the age of 73. A year later, his son took the car out of the garage Godfrey had parked it in 37 years ago.

“I wanted to drive the car because I wanted to know what’s so special about this car, because he always talked about it, but I only drove it once as a little kid,” said Qualls. “He put a hundred dollar bill on the dash and said, ‘If you can get that hundred dollar bill when I say’ go ‘, it’s yours.’ He says ‘Go’ and drives off, and when I try to get the bill, I am put back in the seat of the car. I never got that hundred dollar bill. “

Qualls said in 2016 the rubber on the car was worn out and it needed some work like new tubing, but he turned it by hand and “it turned very easily. It has a 426 Hemi engine, but what’s so special on it? is the alligator grain roof. “

He drives it about once a month now and takes it to car shows to keep the Ghost going for his father.

“I’m doing this as a tribute to him as he didn’t do any car shows,” said Qualls.

Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Read more on General Motors and sign up for ours Auto newsletter. Become a subscriber.