By Paul Schott

pschott@bcnnew.com

The 7th annual Fairfield County Concours d'Elegance car show revved up Saturday at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, as car enthusiasts flocked to the two-day showcase of vintage and custom automobiles.

The Nutmeg Ride for Autism, which raised money for diagnostic services and treatment for autism, was a highlight of Saturday's activities. More than 30 classic cars departed Saturday morning from St. Vincent's Health Services' Westport campus for a tour of Fairfield and Westchester counties.

Organizers estimated that hundreds of automotive buffs attended the Concours this weekend. Bill Scheffler, the Concours chairman and co-founder, attributed the robust turnout to the event's broad appeal.

"It's an extraordinarily good show for car guys," he said. "But it's also a really cool event for families and kids."

Included in the displays at Concours d'Elegance was a diverse range of vehicles from local car clubs, including vintage Ferraris and Porsches. While his 4-year-old son, Billy, scampered around a row of classic Mercedes and Jaguars, James Stammer of Weston inspected one of his favorites -- a 1971 Mercedes 280SE convertible.

"We love these cars here. They're in perfect condition," he said. Then, glancing over at Billy, he added: "Look at this kid, he loves it. He's 4, and this is already his third year here."

Visitors to the Concours also enjoyed a high-octane itinerary Sunday.

The international automotive auction firm of Bonhams planned a bidding session on some of the world's most sought-after antique automobiles. Arguably the most prized car on the block was to be a 1927 Isotta-Fraschini 8A SS Dual Cowl Phaeton by American coachbuilder LeBaron.

The actual Concours, or competition, showcased collectors' cars vying for the prestigious class and field-wide awards. Last year, a 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C2300 and a 1933 Duesenberg SJ Beverly were the foreign and domestic winners respectively of the Concours' Grand Prix d'Honneur.

Also among the exhibits of classic and rare automobiles and motorcycles, spanning the past 100 years, was a full lineup of Packard Darrin cars, from every year of production, 1937-42, from the collections of Ralph Marano, Malcolm Pray and Drake Darrin, the nephew of designer Howard "Dutch" Darrin.

The event paid tribute to the 100th anniversary of the founding of Bugatti, and other classic Porsche and Aston Martin vehicles were also on the field.

There also was a range of hot rods and customs from the 1950s, motorcycles and more.

For more information about Concours d'Elegance and its history, check the website, www.fairfieldcountyconcours.com.