Judging a Ferrari concours takes training and passion

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Engine bolts, emblems, leather, lights. They’re just some of the details that judges scrutinized last Sunday during the second-annual Ferrari Concours d’Elegance, held at Denny Dochnahl’s estate in Renton.

The relative newcomer of a car show had more than two dozen Ferrari enthusiasts eager to demonstrate their recent training in concours judging, and more than 40 owners wondering if their cars measured up.

It was the second year of judging for Dave Tegeler, chairman of the show that’s presented by the Ferrari Club of America Northwest Region. The Maple Valley resident and two other volunteer judges opened doors, checked lights and looked under the hood of a 1998 355 F1 Berlinetta, owned for the past five years by Wiley Norwich of West Seattle.

Norwich’s car won in its class last year. But this year, the retired Boeing engineer was a little more nervous. “The judges were quite a bit more knowledgeable and serious this year,” Norwich says. “I knew that they knew the car a lot better than I did, so they were going through and picking on things that, wow, I didn’t even think of.”

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Ferrari provides the judging instruction. “We are given a 10-page sheet of instructions to study a month ahead of time, so it’s not like we’re going in there cold turkey,” Tegeler says. “We kind of go to school.”

But it’s years of owning a Ferrari that really preps judges.

“I owned a 355 for 12 years, as did the other two guys who were judging, and so we knew whether the right screws were in the engine compartment,” says Tegeler. “Oftentimes [owners will] go to a repair place or even a dealer in some cases, and they don’t have the exact right screw — they use a similar screw. So we can tell, ‘Oh, that’s not the way it came out of the factory,’ so they get dinged a point.”

Norwich’s car had incorrect engine screws and bolts, as well as issues with the license-plate light and doorsill. His car earned a score of 96 out of a possible 100, enough to again win in its class of 355s and 348s.

Winning at a local level is a “personal-best sort of thing,” says Tegeler, but having a high concours score also adds value to a car and gives owners an idea of whether their car is ready for a national show.

To win, a car doesn’t have to be like-new, but it does have to be authentic.

“The whole purpose of a concours is to judge cars relative to perfection as they left the factory,” says Tegeler. “It can show wear, that’s OK, but it can’t be visibly damaged.”

The club embraced the event this year, showcasing more than 70 cars. More than half opted for concours judging. “It was a much larger event this year than what we had last year,” says Tegeler. “I was really impressed with how all the cars looked. Everybody brought their A game.”

To prep for the judges, Norwich sent his Ferrari to a detail shop. Tegeler — whose 2015 458 Spider won the People’s Choice award — spent three days detailing his car for the show.

Norwich plans to fix the minor details that cost him points before taking his car to Monterey, Calif., for the Ferrari Club of America International Meet in August. “[A judge] said, ‘Fix those things and then [when] you go to the nationals, you should be able to win another trophy.’ That made me feel good,” he said.