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Rare 1939 Phantom III to Appear at Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance

John Lyon

Each September, Westport, Connecticut, plays host to the Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance, a two-day event celebrating the best of automobile and motorcycle engineering and design. This year, more than 200 rare and classic vehicles are scheduled to congregate at the Fairfield County Hunt Club to be admired and scrutinized in more than 18 judging classes.

The centerpiece of this year’s Concours is a rare appearance by a one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom III, nicknamed Vutotal, with eye-catching gold- and bronze-accented bodywork fashioned by revered French coach builder Henri Labourdette.  Built upon the chassis of a 1939 Phantom III—the final car to be designed by company cofounder Henry Royce before his death in 1933—the Vutotal began its metamorphosis after being purchased by eccentric New York automobile collector Louis Ritter, who stripped the Phantom of its original coachwork and sent it to Labourdette for a Parisian makeover. Once in Labourdette’s shop, the ambitious carrossier obliterated nearly every trace of the car’s former pedigree, replacing the rigid lines of the original British carriage with the smooth curves of a French drop-top.

The weekend-long affair kicks off September 12 with the Nutmeg Tour for Autism, in which nearly 50 classic cars will wind through the back roads of Fairfield County to benefit the Drive to Treat Autism Fund. Attendees on both days can explore numerous displays of automotive art and memorabilia as well as exhibits highlighting the cars of the historic Le Mans races and the hot rods of the 1950s. Now in its seventh year, this ever-expanding event continues to carve out its place as a destination for New England’s automotive devotees. (203.227.7988, www.fairfieldcountyconcours.com)

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