Niello Concours at Serrano raises money for local charities

By: Penne Usher Telegraph Correspondent
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Fast, fabulous and funky vehicles were in abundance at the sixth annual Niello Concours at Serrano held over the weekend in El Dorado Hills. From the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” Maseratis to the throw backs from the ’60s in the form of Volkswagens, muscle cars of the ’70s and touring wagons of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, the car show had them all. David and LizBeth Fletcher’s 1957 Chevy took first in its class. The Fletchers, of Brentwood, have a true love for car restoration, especially when it comes to Chevys. “It’s our passion,” David Fletcher said. Not one detail has been overlooked on their Bel Air. The car is near original right down to the “traffic viewer,” which is a dash mounted piece of beveled glass that — back in the day — allowed the driver to view hanging-wire traffic signals that would have been otherwise out of the driver’s view because of the car’s low roofline of the vehicle. “My dream was to build the best car I could build,” David Fletcher said. “I didn’t have a lot of money, but I put everything I could into this car.” Jim Orsbun, of Gold River, had a unique car at this year’s show. Several enthusiasts hovered around his 1954 Kaiser Darrin. The pine tint (green sorbet colored) two-door convertible is reportedly one of roughly 320 that remain throughout the world. An estimated 435 were originally produced. Henry Kaiser, the manufacturer, was a noted industrialist — think Kaiser Steele and Kaiser Permanente. The Liberty war ship maker dabbled in car manufacturing and the sleek ’54 sports car is the only one to be made with a pocket door, Fletcher said. Orsburn demonstrated how the driver and passenger side doors slide into a forward pocket to allow entry into the sleek car. Turning to the funkier vehicles at the show, the 2500 horse power AA fuel dragster turned heads and had many event goers stopping by to chat with owner Larry Crossan. Crossan said he found the car originally built by Sacramento’s Don Tognotti behind a barn in Oklahoma and brought it back to California to be restored. The long time car enthusiast and friend of the Tognotti family bought the full bodied chute back canopy covered roll cage dragster and rebuilt it from the ground up. “Basically it’s a piece of art. It’s a sculpture,” Crossan said. He estimates the top speed at more than 200 mph, but he’s never driven the dragster “I can’t fit into it, he said. “Every time I try to get in, or out, I cause about $3,000 in damage. The cage is meant for someone of smaller stature.” He could fit into one of the sleekest, and fastest cars at this year’s show. The Ferrari Enzo, with a limited production and invitation only purchase list, can reach speeds in excess of 220 mph, according to sales associate Adam Van Coops. The Enzo retails for roughly $1.2 million. “You have to be invited to buy this car,” he said. In order to be in the exclusive invite list you must have a long-term relationship as a Ferrari owner. “This is basically a Formula One car with a carbon fiber body around it,” Van Coops said. The Niello Concours at Serrano showcases some of the best motorcars in the country. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefit the Concours Foundation that provides grants and funding to Sacramento area charities.