Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance "Best in Show" winners 2010, photo by Neil Rashba Photography, Rashba.com
By Wendy Lawson
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (January 7, 2011) — If there’s ever a time to be on Amelia Island, many would say it’s in March for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. A signature annual event, the Amelia Island Concours typically features 250 fabulous and rare automobiles, some from private collections not often seen in public.
A brother and sisterhood of automobile enthusiasts from all walks of life gather on Amelia Island to celebrate and share a common love of cars and automotive history. Among the top automotive shows in the world, this posh event attracts muckety-mucks and motorheads alike. (Pictured, “Best in Show” at last year’s event, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster and 1960 Maserati Tipo 61.)
Watch the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance video further below to glimpse highlights of last year’s elite auto event.
One of the most famous “car guys” is Jay Leno, known for his automotive passion. “The Tonight Show” host, in an appearance on “Car and Driver’s” radio show (broadcast live from the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours on the west coast), spoke highly of the east coast Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance:
In Leno’s words, discussing the Amelia Island Concours:
“…that is the greatest show, certainly on the east coast, if not all time. In fact, a lot of people prefer it…this [Pebble Beach] gets a little crazy……I like the classes of things he [Bill Warner, Founder] does. They do unusual sorts of things, hot rods, motorcycles, all kinds of different [things], that’s what I like….any car show I go to and I learn something….because there’s only so many Duesenbergs and only so many Bugattis…” (Jay Leno’s Garage is one of the sponsors of the 2011 Amelia Concours. )
Many jet into Amelia Island’s Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport on private planes (or arrive on commercial airlines at the Jacksonville International Airport, just 30 minutes from Amelia Island). However, for those who live in the drive market within Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, take an outstanding day-cation or weekend escape to Amelia Island during March 11 – 13, 2011. Head north, south, or east for the ultimate automotive experience. See some of the world’s finest collector automobiles in this beautiful barrier island setting in northeast Florida.
So much more than just a display of collector cars, there are dinners, a road tour, interesting seminars, two auto auctions, and a silent auction to raise funds for charity. Enjoy the show and other festivities that surround this marvelous event that’s truly a grand time to be on Amelia Island, Florida.
The 16th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2011 honoree is Bobby Rahal. (Last year in 2010, NASCAR King, Richard Petty, came to the island). The Amelia Concours features legendary automotive celebrities and represents automotive enthusiasm at its best.
CANNONBALL RUN SEMINAR AT AMELIA
Remember “The Cannonball Run” movies starring Burt Reynolds, about a wild (and illegal) cross-country race? Some may not know that the films were based on real life races that actually occurred in the 1970s. The Amelia Island Concours is bringing together some of the drivers for a fun seminar being offered Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 10:30 am, ticket price $30. The panel will feature Brock Yates, William Jeanes, Pete “Father Pete” Brock, Anatoly Arutunoff, Oscar Kovaleski, Dick Gilmartin and Bill Brodrick.
William Jeanes, Chief Judge at Amelia and a former Cannonball participant, has said, “I think the Cannonball Seminar attendees deserve to see and question one of the fools who drove a 37-foot Travco motor home at 105 miles an hour and got the thing across the country in under 46 hours. I shall therefore make myself available.”
Amelia Concours Founder and Co-chairman, Bill Warner, actually competed in the 1975 Canonball Run driving his 1971 Porsche 911 (officially called “The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.”)
Another seminar, “The Women of Racing” features a panel of pioneer and modern-day female racers. Hear from the ladies who have competed in this male-dominated sport, a 2-hour session to be held Friday, March 11, 2011 at 10:30 am, tickets are $20. The panel includes Denise McCluggage, Janet Guthrie, Jessica Brunelli, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Judy Stropus with moderator Lyn St. James. Do you have a need for speed? If you like hot rods and drag racing, you might wish to check out the “Hot Rod Lifestyles Seminar,” also being held on Friday at 4:00 pm. Take this opportunity to hear legends including TV Tommy Ivo, Don Prudhomme, Alex Xydias and Dean Jeffries (tickets $20, a 2-hour seminar).
BISCAYNE DREAM CAR CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF CHEVROLET
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has announced that part of its celebration of the “100 Years of Chevrolet” at its 16th annual event will include an appearance of the 1955 Biscayne, considered one of Harley Earl’s most intriguing designs. The concept vehicle will be on hand courtesy of Joe Bortz of the Bortz Auto Collection in Highland Park, Illinois (video below). Described by GM as “An Exploration In Elegance,” the Biscayne was a four-passenger tour de force by Earl and his styling team. It’s fitting for this vehicle to appear at the Concours d’Elégance, which in French means “competition of elegance.” The Biscayne was produced for the popular Motorama shows of the 1950s, which were sponsored coast-to-coast by the automotive manufacturer and designed to promote its forward-thinking approach to automotive styling and production.
Literally in pieces, the Biscayne was rescued from a junkyard and is an amazing comeback story of a car and an important piece of automotive history nearly destroyed. The Biscayne was found in 1988 by Joe Bortz in the Warhoop Junkyard in Sterling Heights, Michigan, chopped into eight pieces, scheduled to be crushed. Watch the amazing time-lapse video of the 1955 Biscayne, from junk pile in 1988 through its very long road to complete restoration in 2010.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Foundation, Inc. raises funds for charity. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised over $1.7 million for the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, an organization caring for terminally-ill children and adults, as well as other charities. Find out more about the fund raising silent auction. The other charities include Shop with Cops, Duval County 4-H Foundation, Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, and The Spina Bifida Association of Jacksonville, Florida.
RM Auctions’“Automobiles of Amelia” event is Saturday, March 12, 2011 at the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton. The high sale at last year’s auction was a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Sport Berline by Murphy that sold for $1,705,000. Total RM Auction sales tally at the one-day Amelia Island auction in 2010 surpassed $19 million (reportedly an 88% sell-through).
Just a sampling of autos to be auctioned by RM in 2011 include a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Prototype, a 1935 BMW 327/2 Roadster, and a 1927 Rolls-Royce PI Brougham Limousine. See more at RM Auctions.“RM Auctions is the world’s largest auction house for quality automobiles and holds four of the top five all time records for the most expensive motor cars sold at auction,” according to their website.
Another auction is also being held during the Amelia Concours d’Elegance weekend in 2011 by Gooding & Company at Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Friday, March 11, 2011. Gooding & Company’s auction debuted last year when sales at Amelia Island’s event were over $16 million. The high sale for the one day auction was a 1931 Voisin C20 V-12 Mylord Demi-Berline that sold for $2,750,000. Also visit GoodingCo.com for more information.
This is a rain or shine event. Luckily during the event’s past 15 years, the weather cooperated nicely (most of the time). If it does rain, however, the vehicles are moved to tents. Sponsors of the 2011 Concours d’Elegance are the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton, Mercedes-Benz, RM Auctions, Hagerty, Heacock, Meguiar’s, Ultimate Motor Works, Wilmington Trust, Jay Leno’s Garage, and Porsche.
Come to Amelia Island to wander the lush, green fairway of Golf Club of Amelia, lined with millions of dollars-worth of gleaming, glitzy collector automobiles, dubbed the “Field of Dreams.” The backdrop is the ocean and in the limelight is a stunning display of automotive history. Don’t miss what’s been called “one of the nation’s most innovative vintage auto events.”Amelia Island is the place to be March 11 – 13, 2011 for the 16th Annual Concours d’Elegance!Also check out theAmelia Concours d’Elegance FACEBOOK page and connect through social media.
With a background in publishing, financial services, and real estate, Wendy is Amelia Island Living & Travel's digital content editor (including photography and social media channels). A nature lover, birding and biking enthusiast, she has lived on Amelia Island 20 years (a transplant from NY). eMail: contact@AmeliaIslandLiving.com. 904-206-7280.