Robert Gelfand – Successful American Concours d’Elegance Competitor


Jaguar XJS Coupe

Robert pictured with his XJS at one of the many Concours events in which it has competed

After successfully winning almost every Concours event he entered, first with an XK140, followed by an E-type, and latterly a late XJS, Robert Gelfand finally hung up his dusters in 2012 and sold his prize-winning XJS.

Words by Letitia Mace – Pictures supplied by Robert Gelfand

 

Introduction

Robert Gelfand contacted me in 2012 upon the advice of Godfrey Miller, who knows that I am in touch with many collectors of fine Jaguars across the globe, and that I would be able to help in finding a suitable new home for Robert’s 1995 Concours winning 4 litre XJS Coupe. I know Godfrey as the owner of an XJ220, but he is more commonly recognised as an XK120 guru – a JCNA Concours judge who wrote up the original rules on judging Concours for this model! Robert presumably first met Godfrey on the US Concours circuit in this role, when he was successfully showing his XK140.

Robert has had some nice cars in his time, not always Jaguars, and two which spring to mind were both Sunbeams, one was a beautiful little under-powered sedan which looked a lot like a miniature Mercedes and another was a red Sunbeam Alpine. In 1976 he purchased his first Jaguar, an XK140, and from 1986 until 2012 he was a member of the Jaguar Club of Pittsburgh. Robert recalls that it has been very enjoyable being with people who have similar interests, and since the sale of the XJS, he has been without a Jaguar for the first time in 36 years.

Robert now has a 1999 BMW “M” Coupe which he purchased in 2004 with 29,000 genuine recorded miles, and which now has covered 30,000 miles. He primarily shows this car now – it was the highest scoring BMW at the three Concours at which it has been shown and is really appreciated by German enthusiasts! Very few were made – it is virtually a collector’s item. Robert is now the head judge for BMW in Pittsburgh when the Allegheny Chapter of BMW has their Concours. Robert insists that he is not a traitor – it was just time for a change, but his dedication to preparing cars for Concours is the seat of his interest, and his history of successes and the fact that he himself is now a Concours judge, is proof that he knows the difference between the usual over used term “mint” and a car which truly is “mint”!

Robert Gelfands 1999 BMW M Coupe

Robert with his 1999 BMW ‘M’ Coupe

 

Robert Gelfand’s XK140 (Multiple Concours winner)

Jaguar XK140

Pictured here at its final show as Roberts car – JCNA Concours- Jaguar Club of Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio USA, August, 2005 Class C 03 Score 100.00

HISTORY
Robert owned this 1955 XK140 MC OTS from 1976-2009. The car was initially supplied by Charles Hornburg of Los Angeles to a Doctor, in the Spring of 1955. The doctor passed away in the early 1960’s and his wife had the car put on blocks for the 10 years following. At that time, the car was purchased by cousins of Robert’s first wife, in 1973. In 1976, when they were divorcing, they sold the car to Robert. At that time the car had covered approximately 30,000 miles, and had not been maintained well by Robert’s ex-cousins. Robert recalls that he was young and naive and it was an ego trip to own such a car. On its first short trip, the bonnet flew open after the water hose blew, with a stream of hot water and steam being sent skyward. After a few other experiences and having covered only 225 miles, he decided to put the car to bed while he pondered over his next move. Robert says he can laugh about it now, but at the time, he didn’t think it was very funny.

Roberts’ garage is air conditioned and maintained at a constant temperature of sixty degrees where this rust free car with all its original equipment intact sat on blocks. In 1996, he decided to do a complete ground up restoration which took eighteen months. Every piece of the car was removed and refinished to original specifications. The interior was completely refurbished with new seat covers, panelling, dash and carpeting. New Dunlop tyres and new Dayton wire wheels were purchased. The frame for the top was sent out to have a new soft top made which was then fitted to the car. Every single piece in the car was researched as to colour and finish. Nothing was left to chance. From 1998 through 2005, the car was shown each year at three JCNA sanctioned Concours except for the year 2000 when Robert showed his 1967 Series One 4.2 litre E-type Coupe and in 2001 when his little Yorkshire terrier was sick.

In a total of 18 Concours, the car obtained 10 perfect 100.00 point scores and from a period between 2003 until it’s final show in 2005 it took 8 consecutive 100.00 point scores – the only car in the history of JCNA competition to ever achieve this. The car was shown in Washington DC, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh. It was featured in the Jan-Feb issue of the JCNA Jaguar Journal. In 2009 it sold for a record price in the USA – $140,000 sight unseen!

 

Robert Gelfand’s 1967 Series One 4.2 litre E-type Coupe (Multiple Concours winner, now in France)

Jaguar E-type

Robert owned this Jaguar from 1999-2004. He showed it in the year 2000 at three JCNA sanctioned Concours in Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh, PA. The car was shown in a class for completely original un-restored cars and took second in the country! At this point, Robert was made an offer for the car which he could not afford to refuse, and the car is now in Paris!

 

Robert Gelfand’s 1999 Alpine Green XJ8

Jaguar XJ8

Robert owned this car from 2002 until December 2011. It was his everyday car, and it’s beautiful condition belies the 119,000 miles it had covered by the time it was sold! Robert’s Jaguars all have one thing in common – they are genuinely immaculate examples, and he is a true enthusiast with whom you could talk Jaguar all day !!

 

Robert Gelfand’s 1995 XJS 4.0L Coupe (Multiple Concours winner)

Jaguar XJS Coupe

Jaguar Association of Central Ohio Concours July 2008 Class 15B Score 100.00

With a Concours-winning record similar to his XK140, the JCNA Sanctioned Jaguar Club of Pittsburgh Concours July 2007 Class 15B Score 100.00 and the Jaguar Association of Central Ohio Concours July 2008 Class 15B Score 100.00 are just two of this XJS’s triumphs!

HISTORY
A friend of Roberts’ in New York had a 1994 XJS Coupe. Robert liked it and decided to buy one for himself – but only for showing. He heard of a 1995 4.0L Coupe available in Los Angeles, and comments, “I like west coast cars – they are generally free of rust!” The car was owned by the original owner, an elderly movie producer who had purchased the car new from Charles Hornburg in Los Angeles. He had decided it was time to stop driving. The year was 2004 and the mileage at the time was 19,900.

The car needed to have certain parts replaced to put it into show condition. All the front and rear bumper chrome, rear wrap-around lights, and grille, were replaced with original equipment. The headliner was replaced. There was some wear on the outer bolster of the driver’s seatback. The entire seatback including all new electrics in the seatback was replaced. The clear-coating was refinished on the entire dash and centre console – the wood was perfect. The wheels which were an option on this model were five spoke diamond turned alloys which were completely refinished including the spare. New Pirelli P4000s were mounted. The car was shown three times in 2007 and 2008 and twice in 2010. In eight JCNA sanctioned Concours the car obtained six 100.00 point scores.

Robert did not show the XJS in 2009 because of health problems and only showed twice in 2010 because the enclosed trailer he was using broke down. He then decided not to show the XJS any longer, but on the other hand, he would not think of driving the car – it is too perfect. So the car with 21,300 miles just sat in air conditioned storage! Robert put 1,400 miles on the car in eight years. Most of the mileage was from driving to the dealership for service!

(All information and pictures provided by Robert Gelfand 2012- no liability accepted for any mis-information.)