Highlights of historic Fernandina, the beaches, and coastal nature at Florida-Georgia border.

Road Trips, Florida, The Beach And Hot Bodies

Yellow Kurtis Collector Car Brightens Historic Centre Street, Fernandina
Yellow Kurtis Collector Car Brightens Historic Centre Street, Fernandina

Taking a road trip to Florida for spring break is a college ritual. The Sunshine State is known for attracting a horde of rowdy college students, looking for warm weather and the beach. No doubt many are scoping out hot bodies, whether they be bikini clad or in long surf shorts.

While Amelia Island is not a magnet for the young breakers (like elsewhere further south or Florida’s panhandle), you can be sure hot bodies and nice rear ends were admired here today in historic Fernandina Beach. And just wait until Sunday. Besides the elegant cars, American hot rods will be featured. So hot they graced covers of Hot Rod Magazine.


Fernandina Beach Welcomes The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
Fernandina Beach Welcomes The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Automotive history rolled down Centre Street and parked today, embellishing Fernandina’s historic district with dazzling reds, bright yellow, shades of green, sleek silver and lots of gleaming chrome. A select group of classic era car owners took a road trip around this sea island on the Florida –Georgia border. Then they drove to the heart of Amelia Island, its main corridor, Centre Street, in the downtown area near the Amelia River.

Banners lined Centre Street on the lamp posts, “ Fernandina Beach Welcomes The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.” What has become a spring ritual here is the convening of auto enthusiasts from around the world who travel to Amelia Island in March.

The vehicles showcased on Centre Street were participants of the “Passport Transport Marque Car Road Tour.” This is just one of many events centered around the Amelia Concours d’Elegance, and featured Duesenberg, Allard, and Kurtis automobiles (plus a few other select marques.) See Amelia Island Living’s FLICKR photo gallery below (or click here to go to Amelia Island Living’s FLICKR photo stream)…

A swell of admirers flooded the street, and many got there early. Folks waited for the unique experience of seeing a gathering of some of the world’s finest cars, right here on this tiny barrier island in northeast Florida. Cameras were clicking, people were mingling, and anticipation was in the spring air. Soon, auto enthusiasts (as well as those who just like beautiful things), got gratification.

What’s become a tradition during the Concours weekend, Friday’s public display on Centre Street in Fernandina allows folks a free preview of some of the remarkable vehicles here on Amelia Island March 11 – 13, 2011. All are entrants in Sunday’s big event and competition, the annual Amelia Concours d’Elegance at the Ritz-Carlton and Golf Club of Amelia, Summer Beach. If this prelude is any indication, Sunday’s main show featuring 255 vehicles could be a record breaking event in its 16th year here on Amelia Island, Florida.

“The Amelia” is now considered the most prestigious show on the east coast. Collectors consider it one of the big events of the year along with Pebble Beach in California, Meadow Brook in Michigan and Louis Vuitton Classic in midtown Manhattan. An estimated 15,000 people will walk the Concours show (“The Field of Dreams” along the beautiful Golf Club of Amelia fairways adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

This year they will see 255 high quality rare cars competing for ribbons in this competition of elegance. Collectors, who are invited to the show, watch as a team of judges rate their cars for authenticity, function, history, style and quality of restorations. Why do collectors subject themselves to the rigor of a Concours competition? For some it is a hobby, they are proud to own a piece of history and want to share their car with other enthusiasts. For others, it is a business investment that can offer a higher return than the stock market. (Read related article, “Amelia Island Host To Investor Vehicles, Collector Car Auctions”

With events surrounding the 16th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in full swing, premium luxury automaker Infiniti just announced that it will continue sponsoring the event for the next three years. “The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is one of the preeminent automotive events in the world,” said Kyle Bazemore Senior Manager, Product Communications, at Infiniti. “We are so proud to be part of an event that attracts some of the best cars and collectors, year after year.”

Looking at the license plates on these vintage vehicles, the owners came to Amelia Island from Canada, California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Nevada, North Carolina, Illinois, England and elsewhere. Last year RM Auctions sold more than $19 million in rare cars in a single day at the Ritz-Carlton (plus the Gooding & Company auction at Omni Amelia Island Plantation last year sold over $16 million). This year Gooding has beaten that sum, selling $17.7 million at their March 11, 2011 auction. The results are not in yet for Saturday’s RM Auctions’ sale in 2011, at this writing.)

Spring is in the air, and many more rear ends will be admired here in Florida, before all the road trippers head home, and the fine automobiles depart. What do the owners of these fine collector autos have in common with thousands of spring breakers (besides taking a road trip)? They went into a bar. The car owners went through the saloon doors of Florida’s oldest, continually-operating drinking establishment, The Palace, on historic Centre Street. (They were there for a luncheon, but likely not the liquid lunch of college students on Spring Break.)

Tickets to the big event Sunday, March 13, 2011 are still available and can be purchased at the door ($50 per adult, $20 students aged 12 – 18, kids under 12 are free with paying adult.) Read other articles about the 2011 Amelia Concours event, links below. The event is also a major fundraiser for various charities, including the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida. Go to the official website, the Amelia Concours d’Elegance.

“Amelia Island, The Place To Be For Amelia Concours d’Elegance 2011”

“Amelia Island Host To Investor Vehicles, Collector Car Auctions”

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