By Eric Barton
City & Shore Magazine
With 30 employees in a 42,000-square-foot facility in Miami, Richard Gorman operates one of the biggest car-restoration shops in South Florida. Gorman’s Vantage Motorworks is also one of the most successful. His clients have scored some 10 trophies at the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance. For those hoping to land a win themselves at this year’s Concours, Feb. 10-12 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club , Gorman offers six suggestions.
1. Mid-Century Mania
These days, Gorman says, it seems like cars that get lots of attention at shows are mid-century American. Maybe it used to be Europeans dominating car shows, but the home-grown steel is now getting lots of love from judges. Look especially for the uncommon, because a great Ford simply won’t get as many looks as a good Indiana-built Duesenberg.
2. It’s in the Detailing
Before the show, it’s not just a run through the car wash. “It should look like it’s never been driven,” Gorman says. That means cleaning every crevice and spot. Any area between seat cushions or door panels that might have collected grime should be spot-cleaned, maybe with a toothbrush or pipe cleaner.
3. It Has to Look Good
The Boca Concours uses French judging rules, meaning it’s all about appearance. In places like Pebble Beach, cars have to be functional, with judges sometimes testing the headlights and wiper blades. But Boca, like most car shows, is judged based on appearance, so owners don’t have to stress about whether the air conditioner is still blowing cold – instead, make sure that chrome is spotless.
When Gorman’s shop restores a car for an owner, it’s a different recipe if the goal is to win car shows. That means making sure every knob and engine part is to spec, as opposed to a classic that’s for Sunday rides, when maybe a carb upgrade or exhaust swap might be preferred. Car-show vehicles need to match the original spec sheet, right down to paints that were an option back in the day.
5. It’s Out of Your Control
Once you’ve shined up your baby and made sure it looks just as it did on the showroom floor, there’s not a lot else you can do. Truth is, winning often means you got lucky in that your perfect car was preferable to judges over another perfect car. “The way to win,” Gorman says, “is that the judges just have to like your car that day.”
6. Don’t Stress Awards
Too often, Gorman says, car owners get caught up in whether they’re going to win. Many times he has seen car owners get angry or act as if the whole show was ruined by failing to get a ribbon. “The most important thing to remember is that it’s supposed to be fun,” Gorman says. “At the end of the day, whether you win or not, you still get to bring your car home.”