Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Annual Forest Grove spectacle has been part of Allen Stephens' story

NEW-TIMES PHOTO: MICHAEL SPROLES - Allen Stephens, chairman of the Concours dElegance organizing committee, is the son of Al Stephens, one of a small group of people who started it all.Many people think of cars as appliances — metal boxes that simply carry individuals from point A to point B. But to Allen Stephens, chairman of this year’s organizing committee for Forest Grove’s 43rd annual Concours d’Elegance classic car show, automobiles hold a special place in his heart.

His father, Al Stephens, was one of the integral members of the Forest Grove Rotary Club that started the show back in 1973.

“My father had a Jaguar that was a rolling piece of art,” said Stephens. “As an adult, you see a car going down the street and you appreciate everything about it — its body work, its style.”

The Rotary Club created Concours to raise funds for educational scholarships and community service projects. Each year, net proceeds from the event are divided equally among the two. Thanks to solid attendance and Concours’ popularity, the club has returned more than $1 million in projects to the community, including scholarships and financial aid to more than 700 Washington County students attending Pacific University and other colleges.

Before Concours, Rotary’s only fundraiser involved members going door-to-door to sell roses.

The event features 52 classes of restored antique, classic and special interest cars, all entered for judging or just for display. Judging is based on the quality and authenticity of restoration.

Cars from every era of automotive history are represented — from the earliest horseless carriages to the latest sports cars — and owners park them on the lush summer lawns of Pacific’s Forest Grove campus to the delight of auto aficionados of all ages.

Concours d’Elegance is always on the third Sunday in July. This year more than 300 antique, collector and special interest automobiles will be on display July 18.

“Most car shows happen in parking lots,” said Stephens. “But Pacific’s shade, trees and grass are ideal for this show, and make it stand out from others.”

Stephens recalled working at the show as a volunteer in his youth alongside his family, helping Rotary Club members serve ice cream, meet car owners and dive headfirst into the community of people dedicated to and passionate about classic cars.

The show lives on today — and Stephens understands the challenges of keeping Concours around for future generations.

“The ‘70s and the ‘80s were a very different era,” he noted. “Right now, we’re trying to keep it relevant in today’s world, evolving with the times, but also keeping the core spirit of the event in play.”

This year’s show will include some notable features. Concours is bringing in the Classic Car Club of America and will host the club’s regional meet at the event — something that has never happened in the history of the car show. There’s a whole section of the event dedicated to the club’s Grand Classic collection, which features cars made between 1925 and 1948.

The Tom Grant Band, along with vocalist Shelly Rudolph, will complement this year’s event with both jazz fusion and contemporary jazz. Grant, who was born in Portland, has been featured on CNN and appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

This year’s Concours hosts are Keith Martin and Donald Osborne. Martin is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines and has been involved in the collector car hobby for three decades. Osborne has served as judge and presenter at many Concours events in the past, and he also appraises and consults on classic and exotic cars across the United States and Europe.

Senior judge for this year’s show is Peter Hageman, who is well known in the collector car community as a classic car owner, judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and as co-founder of the Kirkland Concours (now the Pacific Northwest Concours d’Elegance) in Kirkland, Wash.

Automobiles owned by Hageman were recently featured in an exhibit called “Master Collectors” at LeMay — America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash.

Through these new and notable components, Stephens hopes to improve the quality of Concours and raise more money for Rotary. But mostly, he wants visitors to leave the show with a sense of awe.

“I want them to walk away and say ‘Wow, great cars, great event,’” he said. “I want them to walk away wanting to come back to the Forest Grove community.”

The 2015 Concours will also celebrate a special class of car — 60 years of the Ford Thunderbird. Attendees can look forward to viewing about 25 Thunderbirds this year.

Stephens added that committee members are still seeking volunteers for a variety of positions for the event — especially at the concession stands, where hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and potato salad will be among the items served. People wanting to volunteer can sign up on Concours’ website,, via the volunteer link.

For Stephens, Concours is about trying to continue what his father started 42 years ago and to make it better by fostering its growth.

“It’s a great family event, and there’s something for everyone there,” Stephens said. “We look back on touchstones in our lives, and more often than not, that’s what cars can be in our lives — touchstones.”

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