Atlanta 10/20/19 - The Cars of Iconic Black Americans showing was held at The Atlanta Concours d'Elegance 2019 in Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. The show featured cars owned by famous African Americans. Atlanta's James Collier has one of the best collections of Chevrolets in the world and was honored at the event as well. (Tyson Horne/ Tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Atlanta Concours D’Elegance show brings out auto enthusiasts

Cars of Iconic Black Americans exhibit featured in move to new venue

After a rainy Saturday, the sun peeked from behind the clouds early Sunday afternoon as classic cars began receiving honors at the fourth annual Atlanta Concours D’Elegance, making its debut at Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios.

While attendance numbers are not yet final, attendees said they felt fewer people turned out, partly due to the rain on Saturday and the new venue, after three years at Chateau Elan in Braselton.

Still, car enthusiasts gawked at celebrities and classic cars and were treated to a special presentation of cars previously owned by black celebrities.

The show was held on Perry’s studio grounds at the Fort McPherson parade field, part of the 330-acre complex Perry purchased for his lot in 2015 — and not far from the soundstages Perry named after famous black entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and Spike Lee.

» RELATED: Photos from the classic car show

For young car buff Dean Washington, a 16-year-old student at Gwinnett County’s Berkmar High School, the highlight was a black-on-black 1977 Rolls Royce Camargue previously driven by entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., part of the Cars of Iconic Black Americans exhibit.

“First, it was Sammy Davis Jr.’s car,” Dean said when asked what stood out about the car. “And the pizzazz.”

The teen spent the weekend detailing cars to get them ready to be presented. He hopes to find a career in automobiles, either detailing them, or designing one some day.

“It’s never work when you enjoy it so much,” he said. “I’m following my dreams out here.”

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen (left) talk cars at the 2019 Atlanta Concours D'Elegance car show at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Sunday, October 20, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer

The Cars of Iconic Black Americans exhibit, curated by Atlanta Concours board member Aaron Spaulding, was designed to highlight the cars of black celebrities and bring new patrons to the hobby.

“I’m telling a story that’s never been told,” Spaulding said. “My background is a car guy.

“No one’s ever done a collection of black icons. I wanted to show a different perspective. Most people whose cars you saw, they went through hell in their time.”

Aside from Davis’ Rolls Royce, the exhibit included vehicles owned by James Brown, Lena Horne, Reggie Jackson, among others.

“So many people who contributed so much to America,” said Yamma Brown, James Brown’s daughter. “You get to see a piece of them here. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

James Brown’s 1941 Lincoln was on display in the exhibit. Yamma Brown and her sister, Deanna Thomas, were recognized during a special presentation on the car exhibit with an award presented by singer and actress Vanessa Williams. Williams, a car fan herself, said she was pleased to celebrate the collection and “the sheer beauty of these cars.”

Singer-actress Vanessa Williams talks to the crowd during the 2019 Atlanta Concours D'Elegance car show at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Sunday, October 20 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Other noted attendees were studio owner Tyler Perry, rapper and activist T.I. and Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an event sponsor, honored Atlanta car collector James Collier with its “Incredible. Compelling. Complete.” award for his 1932 Chevrolet Landau Phaeton. Chevrolet honored Collier for his Chevrolet collection, which includes four rare 1932 convertibles. Collier, 82, began collecting cars in 1975, and has about 30 in his collection, from the rare convertibles to fully loaded 1960s Corvettes and a 1958 Chevy Impala.

Among the awards presented were best in show for American cars, which went to Stephen Plaster for a 1937 Packard, and best in show for European cars, which went to Mark Richy for a 1954 Mercedes Benz 300 SL. John Hope Bryant of the nonprofit Operation HOPE won the group’s Panoz Innovation Award.

Atlanta - James Collier has always been really good at math. And as a young man, he thought he would try his hand at teaching. “What I learned is that it wasn’t for me,” said the 82-year-old Atlantan with a wry chuckle. However, Collier, who quickly left the eight-grade classroom and went on to have a successful career at AT&T, has found another way to teach. People from all over the world seek him out for his seemingly endless knowledge of Chevrolet automobiles. - Todd Duncan Video by Tyson A. Horne ( Tyson.horne@ajc.com)
Atlanta 2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Todd Duncan looks at a 1969 GTX with Streetside Classics sales manager Matt Duncan. ( Tyson Horne/ Tyson.horne@ajc.com)

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