WHY I HATE THE CONCOURS D’ LEMONS

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I hate the Concours d’ Lemons.

Here’s the basic concept. They stage these Concours d’ Lemons shows around major high-end events like Amelia Island and Amelia Island as part of the entertainment. The idea is to bring a car to the show they think is so ugly and unloved, you win a prize.

There is no judgement on what you bring but there is judgement for the winners. They like to pepper this event with outlandish props on the cars to get the judge’s attention—basically a non-competitive car show that is non-judgemental but is still judged.

You can understand my confusion.

You’ll see a fleet of Citroens at these events because Citroen sounds so much like citron—French for lemon. That’s the level of humor you’re looking at in the Concours d’Lemons world. These guys wouldn’t even be funny to an 8-year-old.

That’s because the guys behind this show have no sense of humor.

They come from a world where Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, or the Three Stooges don’t exist, but this is the one day they can pretend to be funny. Worse yet, it’s obvious humor—not funny humor.

The lack of funny bothers me, but the lack of respect for average car guys really bothers me. You get TV car guys who only respect one-of-one Duesenbergs and 50 million-dollar Ferraris trying to pretend they’re average car guys by jumping behind the wheel of a dusty old Vega and entering it in this show.

Don’t bother. It’s like putting on a jean jacket and pretending you’re a cowboy—it just doesn’t fit. In fact, it’s painfully clownish from my perspective as an average car guy. Hand one of these guys a beer and he’ll dunk an orange slice in it to offset the taste.

They’ll never be an average car guy because they don’t even know how or where average car guys live. They’ll look at an Edsel and crack all the usual jokes because it’s so easy to do an Edsel joke. They’ll never let a Corvair slide by without at least one Ralph Nader crack because shallow-end-of-the-humor-pool guys are simply not funny—it’s in their DNA.

That isn’t even my biggest problem with Concours d’ Lemons. They draw in guys who may be proud of their humble car, but they’ll still subject it to mockery from the quasi-celebrities at these events. That’s wrong–and it flies in the face of what the hobby is about. Almost every old car has potential in my world, but at Concours d’Lemons, they’re just a punchline. I look at cars from a journalistic point of view, so when I see strange and unusual cars at a show, I want to track down the owner for an interview–because I know there’s a great back story.

That’s not the case at Concours d’Lemon because I’ll probably run into a high-flyer who’s trying to be an average guy, so he brought an old Rambler to the show as a comic prop. At a real show, I’ll meet the granddaughter of the guy who bought the Rambler brand new.  That’s a big gap.         

It could be me. Maybe I’m humor impaired–but I doubt it, so here’s a suggestion to rename the show.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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