(Photo courtesy: PinehurstConcours.com)

Charles Gillet’s 1931 Cadillac took best in show at the 2014 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance despite strong competition. (Photo courtesy: PinehurstConcours.com)

A striking midnight blue 1931 Cadillac 452A owned by 90-year-old Charles Gillet of Lutherville, Md., was awarded the Best in Show at the 2014 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance at Pinehurst Resort on Sunday.

The car, equipped with a V-16 engine and purchased in 1986 by Gillet and then restored by Pruiett Automotive Restoration, emerged from 119 vintage and a strong Class 4 Grand Classics (1925-1948) field to capture the top prize at the second annual showcase. 
Gillet, who didn’t attend last year’s inaugural competition, put both hands to his head in shock when notified by Pinehurst Resort caddies – a Pinehurst Concours tradition – that his Cadillac 83-year-old car was judged the day’s best.

“I’m 90 and some of the better things come later in life,” Gillet said. “This has to be one of those days.

“My restorer was taking me to lunch one day and I happened to say in a dreamy tone, ‘Someday I would love to have a 16-cylinder Cadillac.’ There was a pause and he said, ‘I know where I can get you one.’ And he did in 1986 and that’s it and we still have it all these years later.

“It is a rare and beautiful car so we knew we had a chance but when we saw some of the other cars — and some cars right next to us on the showfield — we thought, ‘Oh no, this is going to be tough.’ So this really did come as a surprise. I am absolutely bowled over.”

Gillet joined Pinehurst Concours President and CEO Jay Howard for a champagne toast in front of the historic Carolina Hotel, his car situated in front of the “Pinehurst 1895” hedges.

“It’s wonderful to see the excitement on Mr. Gillet’s face and for the Pinehurst Concours to have produced such a magnificently striking automobile as its winner,” Howard said. “The turnout in our second year has humbling and we’re looking forward to improving the event even further next year, but we feel we’ve sort of “teed it up” for Pinehurst heading into back-to-back U.S. Opens in June.”

Last year’s winner – a 1938 Steyr 220 Glaser Roadster – was staged as a display car on the fairways of Pinehurst Resort, as was Steve’s McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS, which was making a rare appearance on the East Coast from its home at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Both vehicles drew large crowds all day.

“A lot of the collectors I know that came last year and are back this year continue to talk to me about the hospitality of Pinehurst,” said chairman and noted Porsche collector Bob Ingram. “They love the geographic convenience of getting here and the convenience of the set-up at the Pinehurst Concours. I believe we’ve got a winner here.”

Other significant winners included a 1903 Marr Auto Car owned by W. Barton Close of Signal Mountain, Tenn., which captured the HVA Award, and a 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Zagato, owned by Corrado Lepresto of Milan, Italy, took the FIVA award, celebrating vehicles have that survived virtually unrestored.

Click HERE to view all the class winners.

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