By: Roger Parent
I attended “The Gathering” of the Audrain Auto Museum’s Newport Concours and Motor Week at Rough Point, the cottage of Frederick William Vanderbilt that he built in 1894 on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. Nice neighborhood! Later, when the house was finally sold out of the family to the next family in 1922, it was sold to James Buchanan Duke who was a benefactor of a little college in North Carolina. Maybe you have heard of it…Duke University.
The location and scenery from here is nothing less than spectacular. The sky today is as blue as it ever is. The sun is shining which just enhances the moment. The view from the back of the home, overlooking the ocean is breathtaking. The view to the side and front “ain’t” too bad either. The yard is filled with spectacular vehicles, some of them one of a kind. There are Lamborghinis, Porches, Bugattis and of course the almost obligatory new Rolls Royces and Bentleys that one would expect to be adorning the grounds of such a luxurious property.
The moment I realized that I really should not necessarily be part of the assembled crowd despite my best efforts to blend in, was when I spotted my favorite car on the lawn…a 1958 Ford Ranchero which looked like it had just rolled off the local Ford Showroom in 1958. The grift was up. No longer could I continue the rouse that I belonged here.
On October 3rd, the Newport Concours took place that judged over $1 billion dollars of vehicles. Judges include Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars, and Donald Osborne from Jay Leno’s Garage as well as Jay Leno himself as the master of Ceremonies. Donald Osborne is also the CEO of the Audrain Auto Museum. On Sunday the Concours awarded too many awards to list them all, but judged Best of Show was awarded to a 1953 Abarth 1100SS Ghia Coupe. The people’s choice award was given to a 1963 Corvette Z-06.
On Friday, the day that I was there, at 3 pm they unveiled a new Porche GT 3, one of very few to be produced, and it was explained the ordering process was years long for the gentleman who ordered it.
One of the cool things about the Audrain Museum, is that their displays are not just exotic cars and cars with price tags that are stratospheric, but this day (and many others) they have the cars that many of us grew up with and always longed for. There was a whole section of Hot Rods on the lawn. Some were pristine, some were just a step or two away from Rat Rod condition, but all were beautiful in their own way. Among the very different that day was a 1957 Chevy Restomod that had the front clip of a ’57 Chevy and somehow blended into a 1959 Chevy tail end.
Memberships are available at many levels to the Audrain and over the course of the year they sponsor more than a few Coffee and Cars events. The Audrain also produces some great YouTube videos featuring Donald Osborne and Jay Leno driving around Newport discussing the cars they are driving which are very cool. The videos that I have watched all end up at some of the most beautiful “cottages” of Newport as well as some of the beautiful current homes in Newport.
Currently, inside the museum the Audrain is featuring New England Hot Rods which features cars from 1945 to 1965 with a nod to some of the great racetracks in New England including Seekonk Speedway, and from Connecticut Autorama, and the Connecticut Dragway. New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire is also featured. There is truly something for everyone in the Audrain’s rotating displays. For more information on the Audrain Auto Museum please visit www.audrainautomuseum.org including a schedule of remaining events and shows for 2021. Keep your eyes out for the 2022 Audrain Motor Week and mark your calendar. If you are a car guy or gal, you won’t want to miss it.