Edison, N.J. – Joseph Cassini III not only ruled from the judge’s bench in the courtroom, but cars from his collection have been honored on concours d’elegance show fields from coast to coast, including best-of-show accolades in 2013 at Pebble Beach for his 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria.
Now that the judge has retired from the bench, and while he waited as his next star car underwent restoration (his LeBaron-bodied ’31 Stutz DV-32 Convertible Victoria won the American Classic Closed Award at Pebble Beach in 2016), Cassini had time to apply himself to something new.
Cassini is the founder of a new concours. The inaugural Edison Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for October 16-18 at Glenmont, the historic home of Thomas A. Edison on 16 acres in Llewellyn Park, New Jersey.
The seed for the event was planted soon after Cassini’s Packard won at Pebble Beach. He was having lunch with a friend, a lawyer with whom he had worked in a law firm before becoming a New Jersey Superior Court judge. The friend was chairman of a foundation that supports the Edison Innovation Foundation and the Charles Edison Fund (Charles was Thomas’s son and was elected New Jersey’s governor in 1941).
Cassini’s friend’s renovations were being done on the garage at Glenmont and he thought a car show might help with that effort.
The garage isn’t some simply car shelter but a two-story building that housed the world’s first electric-car charging station, which is still there. Edison and his wife each had a Detroit Electric. He also converted a Locomobile from steam to electric power. The garage also holds the Ford Model T that Henry Ford gave Edison, and Cassini thinks that car is the oldest single-owner T in existence.
Cassini said the concours will be open to 90 cars, with 15 classes of six cars each. There will be a class for electric vehicles, he said, adding that 80 percent of the cars on display will be pre-war machines and that the newest car on the field will be 1960 models.
As for cars produced since 1960, he said, “You can go to your local car gathering (from cars and coffees to cruise-ins) on the weekend and see those cars.” Cassini said the show field will reflect his own current interests in the classics. But, he added, his tastes have changed.
Cassini’s father owned a trucking company that did contract demolition work, and Cassini spent a lot of time as a youngster in the shop, learning from the mechanics and using the equipment to build his own go-karts and mini-bikes.
After law school, Cassini took a road trip across the country to Los Angeles, where he saw a 1956 Ford Thunderbird for sale. He kept thinking about that car all the way home, and after returning to New Jersey, he did a deal to buy the car.
For some 15 years he collected 1950s and ’60s cars — Thunderbirds, E-type Jaguars, split-window Corvettes and Corvette roadsters. But then, in the early 1990s, he attended his first Classic Car Club of America event and marveled at the Packards, Stutz, Cords and Auburns. Before long, those were the cars he was collecting, restoring and showing at concours.
For more information about the event and the charities it will benefit, visit the concours website.