Issue: Jul 2009


Award-Winning Automotive Sculptor at Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance



by Jon Knox

The golden age of daring drivers and thundering motorcars returns when automotive sculptor Alexander Buchan displays a new work at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. “The Fastest Man on the Earth” commemorates legendary racer Ralph DePalma and the remarkable Packard 905 he drove to a world speed record performance at Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1919.

“The Fastest Man on the Earth” will be enjoyed by guests at the 2009 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance Welcome Reception and RM Auction Preview on Friday, July 31, a ticketed event featuring work from world renown artists and exhibitors. The new painted bronze sculpture also will be available for viewing by guests attending events throughout the weekend, including the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, Aug. 2.

DePalma and the remarkable Packard 905 broke all existing speed records, running the one-mile course in 24.2 seconds, for an average of 149.87 mph. Powered by a V-12 aero engine, the Packard 905 was built exclusively for setting speed records. The beach course’s wet sand kept the tires cool, helping make the historic run possible. In his time, DePalma was hailed as “The Gentleman Champion” by racing fans and fellow drivers and “America’s Greatest Sultan of Speed” by the press. DePalma is reported to have won 2,000 of the 2,800 races he entered.

Mr. Buchan is one of six bronze sculptors in the world who specialize in automotive themes. Experts regard his automotive artworks as exceptional in their beauty, craftsmanship and historic significance. Using a “lost wax” process once popular to the 18th century, Mr. Buchan’s work helps preserve automotive history and a unique process that dates back millennia. His themes include freedom, speed and excitement. His subjects include classic and racing automobiles and motorcycles, as well as historic figures and the beauty of the human form.

Mr. Buchan has won numerous awards. In 2001 and 2003 he received the Stan Wanlass “Spirit of Automobile” award, the top honor for artists at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. In 2004 and 2005, his work was judged “Best of Show” at the Bay Harbor Concours in Petoskey, Mich. The Eyes on Design “Best of Show” went to Buchan in 1997 and 1998 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. He received the David R. Holls award, recognizing the artist whose work best exemplifies the form and style of the automobile, at the 2008 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance.

Alexander Buchan served 38 years as Chief Design Sculptor for General Motor’s Design Studio . In that role, he was part of the design team that shaped many of GM’s most popular production and spectacular concept vehicles. As part of his responsibilities, Mr. Buchan took designers’ drawings and turned them into 3-dimensional renderings in clay. Mr. Buchan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial design from Wayne State University. He also has taught sculpture at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Each year, Mr. Buchan exhibits at several automotive exhibitions. He also works on commissions from his Michigan studio. To view examples of his work, and for a complete list of events and exhibitions, visit www.AlexanderBuchan.com.

A showcase for more than 200 of the finest automobiles in the world, the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance will be held Sunday, Aug. 2 on the grounds of historic Meadow Brook Hall on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich. This year’s affair will honor Detroit automotive makes, including Packard. Popular aspects of the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance are the automotive art exhibition, auctions of historic automobiles and unique opportunities for collectors


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