A Journey to a New Award

With warming weather in Europe and the US, numerous Concours events will be taking place in the upcoming months honoring remarking classic autos. Awards given at these events range from the typical “Best of Show” to numerous special award category awards. At the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance dozens of awards are given ranging from time period, design, technologies, engineering, significance, performance, beauty, preservation and specific makes to name a few. 

It’s not sexy as the typical concours awards, but we asked ourselves, “Why not an award honoring documentation and the efforts of current and previous owners to collect and preserve history?”

After all, documentation and provenance are as important as ever when it comes to classic cars. Well documented history helps add to and maintain the value of the car, tells a story of its journey, provides more insight to sophisticated discerning buyers and allow owners to show, sell and insure their classics with greater confidence. Compiling and maintaining that documentation is often a time-consuming labor of love for an owner which is often overlooked.  

We embarked on a mission at The Motor Chain to create the first “Best Documented Car in Show” award. How did we go about cooking up this new award?

Every good recipe needs its chefs. Our first step was to identify a diverse group of respected advisors, experts and enthusiasts in the classic auto world to work with us on this special project. In addition to founders Julio Saiz and Matt Kenigstein, our team consisted of the following individuals: 

  • Steve Linden (USA) noted and expert and author in the field of antique, classic and collectible vehicles who is also the founder of Chrome Strategies 
  • Martin Sigrist (Switzerland) previous editor at Automobil Revue, current editor at Auto-Illustrierte and an avid auto hobbyist 
  • Mattia Grandori (Switzerland) car collector consultant, whose MATTIA GRANDORI GmbH inspects, evaluates and manages precious cars and collections 
  • Fredric Vert (Switzerland via France) automobile collecting enthusiast who has accumulating documentation and technical knowledge for many models 

We held Zoom/Team calls and a live workshop to devise what categories and documents would best reflect how comprehensive, consistent, detailed and lovingly the documentation of a car was kept. That’s right…I said lovingly. One thing this bright group highlighted was that the absolute best documented history often includes hand-written notes, personal photographs, stories and an attention to detail that a true love of the car elicits. On a person level, I had the pleasure of reading Steve Linden’s book (Car Collecting: Everything You Need to Know) which yielded some great insight into documentation that I coupled with research to better educate myself on the topic. 

So based on our expert feedback we approached the scorecard by asking the questions of “What is this car and what documentation is there to support it?” These set the tone to “authenticate” a car itself through primary documentation which includes original documentation, expert reports on the historical documents and authenticity. Thereafter, secondary documentation would be looked at and could include period photos, awards and inspection receipts amongst other evidence. We also made sure to recognize quality and consistency as their own categories and look for important evidence like time gaps in documentation, presentation structure and trace of ownership. 

During the creative process and our discussions, we also quickly realized the stark differences found country by country (and locality by locality) that documentation presents. Examples include USA window stickers which in many parts of Europe simply doesn’t exist, registrations which are conducted differently locally, cars that have been restored while others remain untouched, differences in inspection and import papers and so on.  

While there is no “one size fits all” model, we worked hard to ensure we captured key elements to the tell best story. See how we did it here. And after all that work, we had our drafted scorecard. So, what did it look like? Click here to have a look and download a copy. 

Next up was planning where we would introduce the first “Best Documented Car in Show” award. The Lugano Concorso d’Eleganza was unfortunately a victim of the Covid pandemic, so it was our good fortune that the Zurich Classic Car Award (ZCCA) were happy to partner with us to introduce the award this August 18th, 2021. 

And finally, how would the process work to score the cars at a Concours event? It was important that we would be able to team up with the “traditional” jury and get participants educated and involved in the process early. We developed guidelines for our first event (ZCCA): 

  • Participants would have the ability to use The Motor Chain to document their car history in advance of the event or bring their documentation the day of the event. 
  • For those cars in TMC we will allocate QR codes in front of car so attendees could view a summary of the car. 
  • Our representative jury members will join the ZCCA jury members on car visits to avoid overloading owners with reviews (i.e., we are part of the overall jury visiting cars) 
  • Participants will receive a communication from TMC on documentation tips as well as instructions on how to qualify and compete for the new award. 

So, there you have it. A new award, process for which we are grateful to those who helped us in its creation. We look forward to the launch event and seeing who the first award winner is – history and documentation will get a chance to shine.  

If you have any feedback on this award, documentation and would like to be part of its dialogue and creation, please reach out to us at community@themotorchain.com