Concours d'Elegance Judging Standards

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Concours d'Elegance Judging Standards

Post by Guest » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 14:53

What do you think of the BMWCC's new Concours judging criteria? As a judge at last year's SW Concours I found it difficult accept this as a 'step forward.' For example, how can one reconcile the 'importance' of clean wheel arches with the lack of importance applied to suspension and brake calipers, which are usually the most neglected part of a car when it comes to cleaning.

With this - and other - points in mind I wrote the following to the National Concours Officer - what do you think about it?

I thought you may welcome some feedback from an entrant at the recent SW Concours d’Elegance, this event being run under our new Concours Guidelines.
In general, I found the division of classes by year, rather than type, to be a quite logical system. I feel that this is to be welcomed, as it is an attempt to prevent currently-produced but older cars being placed at a massive disadvantage when compared to their newer bretheren. We have all seen ‘Best in Class’ awards won by cars only a few weeks old, which are able to easily meet the ideal standard of being in full ‘Ex Works’ condition.
I feel, however, that those responsible for this revised system have performed a severe disservice to the older cars by no longer awarding bonus points on the basis of age.
While I appreciate that we are now competing against cars of similar age, a difference of up to five years still a substantial time, during which both use and climatic conditions will inevitably affect the general condition. This again means that, regardless of the level of remedial work carried out, the earlier cars in each class will be at a disadvantage, and that the awards will inevitably be made to the newer cars.
It could be argued, however, that age is unimportant when the criterion is condition. Our current Concours system therefore appears to have been produced in order to benefit those cars which receive little use.
With this in mind, it would seem appropriate to award bonus points on a basis of use, in order to provide a means of compensating for the inevitable signs of use which cannot be prevented.
Good examples of these are the stretching and creasing which affects leather seats, the necessity to use leather dressing, and the gradual polishing of steering wheel rims. In the same way, it is inevitable that small stone ships will appear on the windscreen and paintwork – which are also largely beyond the owner’s control.
The rate at which any mileage points should be awarded would be open to discussion, but as age points were awarded at a rate of 3 per year, and it was generally held that all cars should cover 10,000 miles a year, it would seem appropriate that mileage points should be awarded at a rate of 3 per 10,000 miles.
Although our ‘Perfect’ goal is that of a car which has just rolled off the production line, I would suggest that if we were to apply it rigorously, cars would be penalised for non-standard radio units, security wheel nuts, valve caps, and even tyres.
Such literal adherence to the original norm would however, lead to a situation where our concours d’elegance becomes the rather sterile preserve of a few almost-identical cars.
It is obvious that the quest for originality must be tempered by reality, and such minor after-market equipment does not currently appear be a problem.
It must be remembered however that the BMWCC is striving to attract more members, many of whom wish to modify their cars in various ways. In many cases I find these to represent a victory for enthusiasm over good taste, but wonder if it is the duty of a concours judge to arbitrate in such matters, rather than to judge solely on condition.
Strut braces are a popular addition, which also improve handling to some extent. Should we penalise a car for such an addition, which does not replace any original item?
Should a car be penalised for fitting of non-standard (but BMW) wheels?
Stainless steel silencers are an area in which the maintenance of originality is an expensive pastime – should the BMWCC really require that its members keep buying rust-prone BMW silencers in order to succeed in its concours events?
Even the replacement of major components, such as the fitting of M3-type front aprons etc to the ‘lesser’ models can sometimes be considered to enhance the car – perhaps the best means of judging non-standard items is to rely on the judges’ discretion, as they must be correct . . . even when they are wrong!
Service Record:
The production of the vehicle’s handbook and service record is somewhat ambiguous. As components of its originality this requirement is understandable, but it could be considered that the BMWCC requires originality to be maintained by a string of BMW Dealer Service Stamps. Should this requirement ever be invoked, it would have the effect of further disadvantaging the older cars, which are seldom dealer-maintained, but are not necessarily in any worse condition.
Judging Areas:
Although the elimination of scores for front and rear suspension obviously simplifies the judges’ work, it introduces a problem. Almost all designs of cast wheels feature large apertures, through which the brake calipers and discs are clearly visible. This is an area in which rapid deterioration takes place, and to ignore poor condition in such an area, while examining the surrounding (less visible) wheel arch, is difficult to justify to entrants.
The current system of judging our Concours d’Elegance has reduced the workload of the judges, but it has not addressed the long-standing problem of producing a level field on which cars of vastly differing usage can be assessed. With the loss of age points the situation has, in fact, been made worse, and the chance to introduce mileage points has apparently been ignored.
The potential problems concerning originality have also been ignored, leaving the judges in an unenviable position, and some owners perhaps feeling that the BMWCC is really concerned with absolutely original cars.
Frankly, I feel that originality has no place in a concours, which should be solely concerned with condition, relative to usage.
It seems that we have moved from a system which favoured the newer cars within each (type) class, to a system which favours the less-used cars within each (age) class, while failing to address potential problems such as the fitting of additional or improved items.
Unless our judging procedure is revised to accept modifications, and include a measure of compensation for usage, our concours events will become the preserve of standard cars which see little use, an odd situation for a club which (Rule 5b) was founded ‘To promote the sport and pastime of motoring.’

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Post by TonyCal » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 16:06

Your comments are certainly very interesting. Here are a few things that I have noticed. I had the job, as part of a team of judges, of judging the Open class in the national concours at Gaydon.
I do agree with you that the condition of the calipers etc should be checked, as we are checking the arches. A large number of people said they had just waxoiled their arches, this I felt was not very original at all, to be honest with you though there was only a few people that had even bothered to clean the arches at all.
I personally would not mark a car down because it had a different set of wheel fitted, provided they are a BMW pattern and suitable for the model they are on. Strut braces are a different matter as BMW do not fit them as standard, unless its the ones like the Z4 has, bracing the towers to the center of the scuttle. Likewise a Z1 with a Mostelman turbo would and has been marked down by me in the past.
At the end of the day its the judges opinion of the condition of the car that scores the points, we all have differing opinions, hence the marks given may be different. At the national event I judged 27 cars in the open class, only doing one section, the bodywork etc. I Believe that all marks given were In my opinion the right ones for the car I was looking at, at the time. In fact I would say that in most cases the older cars were in better condition than the newer ones, some of the E30's are in superb condition, compared to an E46 3 series. I do realise that to get and keep them in the condition they are in requires a lot of cash and effort, but some of them could not be faulted, even though they had been driven from Scotland to get to Gaydon.
IMO some of the glass cleaning was a bit dubious at Gaydon too, in fact I would say there were only a couple of cars that had clean glass. Before you say what I think you will say here, Its part of my job to clean glass, so do know a bit about it. No I'm not a window cleaner :D
These are just a few observations made during the few concours events I have judged at.
I believe there is talk of a modified class at the next national event.

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A minefield

Post by ZZZEMMCO » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 16:06

Some good points Mike, await the reply with interest. :?:

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Post by TonyCal » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 16:09

I wonder if Kieth will put pen to paper on this one? :D



Another Minefield

Post by Guest » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 16:53

I totally agree with Tony, but if the judges use their own criteria rather than the BMWCC official doctrine, this can also create a minefield! Just consider - one car is judged class winner on its overall condition, including clean and painted suspension, brake calipers, strut brace, and stainless steel exhaust system. Another car, of identical condition inasfar as the BMWCC Judges Doctrine, is judged as second. The owner of the Second-Place car could have a sound objection on grounds of being non-standard and gaining points in areas which are no longer judged.

By eliminating the areas of a car which sort out the star cars from the also-rans, and doing away with milage points, the BMWCC has arrived at a position where - I think - the Concours system has been thoroughly debased - whether the judges go by the rules or use their own overall judgement.

I don't think that our new Concours Doctrine has improved matters at all - it's just made a bad situation worse. Anyone who can afford to buy a new(ish) car, then not use it much, or keep it properly clean, is a potential Concours winner. I don't envy the judges!

I'll let you know when Keith replies - I sent the letter to him nearly a year ago.

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Re: Another Minefield

Post by TonyCal » Mon 21 Mar, 2005 17:06

Mike Fishwick wrote:I'll let you know when Keith replies - I sent the letter to him nearly a year ago.
I think the statute of limitations has run out on that one then Mike.

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