A Concours (full name Concours d'Elegance) is a car show. The principle object is to show the car in its most perfect condition (usually cleanliness and like new condition, but originality may play a role in some concours). The idea is that every car starts out perfect and as the judge finds something amiss he/she deducts points.
There are many levels or types of concours. Unfortunately there is not a standard meaning of all the terminology to describe the types. Top Only Concours for one group may mean something entirely different to another. We'll try to put some sense into all the terms. However, if the event you're entering hasn't been specific about what they mean by their terms, call the organizer and ask them. There's nothing worse than entering an event and finding out too late that they're going to look at some area of your car that you hadn't prepared.
Full Concours usually means every aspect of your car will be examined, interior, exterior, trunk(s), engine and under chassis – front and rear. They'll look at your spare, tools and jack. Nothing will go untouched. Originality may count in Full Concours. Everything is proper as the factory could have delivered it, correct colors, engine materials, etc. This is not to say that the parts have to be the actual parts the car came with, but it does mean that restorations have to be done with parts (original equipment manufacturer or replcia parts) that meet original standards of fit, finish and material. At Parade, the Restoration and Preparation Groups have Full classes and originality counts in the Restoration Group.
Touring class is a term sometimes encountered. It is the term the Porsche Parade uses for the next step removed from Full Concours at its annual gatherings. The differences between Parade Touring and Full are that in Touring they don't look under the chassis – front or rear, except for the Preservation Group. Originality doesn't count in the Preparation Group, but does in the Restoration and Preservation Groups.
Top Only or Serious
"Top Only" is used a lot and can mean many things ranging from exterior only to the same thing as Touring, that is, everythiing except the under chassis. Sometimes the term "Serious" is used. If you encounter either term, be sure to ask the organizer exactly what it means in your region events.
Closed usually means they only look at the exterior of the car. Be sure, ask!
This usually means ther's been a special area set aside at the Concours site for Porsches that have not entered the judging. They are there just to be displayed. They are usually not eligible for any trophies, not even People's Choice.
People's Choice is where the entrants or registrants themselves vote for the car they like best. There are no judging criteria.
Judges' Choice or Honorary Judges' Choice
A special group of judges, usually celebrities or otherwise honored guests or particularly knowledgeable people (not involved in the regular judging) pick the car they think best represents the marque. There may or may not be any particular criteria.
This is a new category introduced at the 1996 Porsche Parade. Emphasis in this category is on preservation of the car as built by the factory with secondary emphasis on presentation. The car should have most, if not all, of its original parts and surfaces such as paint upholstery and carpet with most non-service items, such as rubber seals and trim original to the car. The factory Kardex (build data)/Porsche Cars North America Certificate of Authenticity for the car is required and will be examined by the judges. Judging is essentially a hands-off process; they look but don't touch. The owner decides which of the six areas will be inspected, but to be eligible for a trophy all six areas must be examined.
Every region has their own score sheets for Concours. They are usually some variation of the Parade Score Sheets. Ask the organizer for a copy of the score sheets they will be using and use them to help direct you where to spend your time preparing. Get your score sheets back after an event. They will help you learn where you need to put extra effort and can help establish the value and condition of your car. The score sheets used for Parade can be found on the PCA web site (www.pca.org) in the library section under Parade Competition Rules.
Cleaning for Everyone
Concours may not be for everyone, but everyone can benefit from thorough cleaning of their car. If you want to get more involved in cleaning there is usually help within your region. Contact the Concours Chairs. National level judges come from the membership; North Country has several nationally qualified judges amongst it's ranks as well as members who have won class and division awards at Parade. They will be glad to answer your questions.