Man’s Passion and Dreams Personified on Amelia Island

Legendary motor vehicles that marked milestones and astounded generations of past eras (some the subject of Hollywood movies) were on Amelia Island, Florida. Not just a car show, it’s a history lesson, and more fun and glamorous than sitting in a classroom.

Sex and success symbols were well represented on Amelia Island during the 16th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. It’s a time when this seductive sea island in northeast Florida is host to some of the most extraordinary collector autos in the world, as well as some of the fastest race cars and their famous drivers.

Seductive Hood Ornament on 1931 Classic Cadillac, Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
Hood Ornament on 1931 Classic Cadillac , Amelia Concours d’Elegance

A CRASH COURSE IN CLASSICS

Not just a car show, it’s a history lesson that’s more fun and glamorous than sitting in a classroom. Don’t consider yourself a car buff? Being one is not a prerequisite to thoroughly enjoy the Amelia Concours. “The Amelia” is an educational journey for the novice (but also attracts the top experts in the industry — the “Who’s Who” of the automotive world).

Legendary motor vehicles that marked milestones and astounded generations of past eras (some the subject of Hollywood movies) are displayed on Amelia Island for this annual March event. Making one’s way across the field, it’s an opportunity to learn the intriguing stories of these rare motor vehicles. Signs front every entrant on the field describing its place in history.

The biggest economic event held on Amelia Island has grown in both prestige and attendance over the years since its inception. “The Amelia” features around 300 rare classic cars, motorcycles, hot rods and race cars. With a glowing reputation, it’s this unique mix of rare and significant motor vehicles that lures crowds of enamored fans. 2011 lived up to expectations, with record-breaking attendance estimated at around 20,000 for Sunday’s main show. Two separate car auctions also held during the event weekend surpassed $42 million in sales of investor cars (including world record-breaking price tags for some individual autos.)

The Ritz-Carlton Best in Show Amelia Island Concours 2011 Winners
The Ritz-Carlton Best in Show Concours 2011 (photo by Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance)

Pictured, a duo of Duesenbergs won the competition’s top two “Best in Show” awards this year — The yellow “Mormon Meteor,” considered one of the most famous race cars of all time, and a gorgeous sedan dubbed the “Twenty Grand,” both cars of the Great Depression era.

Many who travel to Amelia Island for the Concours share a common love of automotive history and perhaps a roving eye for a beautiful body or awesome chassis. And they weren’t disappointed. It was a day of automotive eye candy and visual overload. For some, it’s a lap around memory lane. Like stepping on the gas pedal, memories flooded the mind with images of days gone by.

Everywhere one looked, there was aesthetic stimulation. Besides the Duesenberg’s, the other featured marques at the 2011 Amelia Concours were sports and racing cars of Allard and Kurtis.

Man's Passion & Dreams Personified on Amelia Island, Florida
Man’s Passion & Dreams Personified on Amelia Island, Florida

A collector and former race car driver himself, Bill Warner, the show’s Founder and Chairman, has also been a Road & Track magazine contributing editor and photographer for 40 years. He also won the 2002 “Oscar” of car collecting (Meguiar’s Award). The Amelia Concours program is a glossy magazine that includes in-depth articles (this year 152 pages). The program in itself is an accomplishment, an automotive literary work that attendees take home with them. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Foundation is also a fundraising engine, having donated $1.7 million to the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida and other charities over the years (before the 2011 event’s funds are allocated).

People have their life story, and so do cars of this caliber. Warner and his staff do an exceptional job giving these cars personality. They are brought to life on the show field and covered in the program magazine with interesting anecdotes and historical detail, honoring cars and drivers who hold a special place in world history.

“The Amelia” has been dubbed “The Field of Dreams” and the underlying theme here is, indeed, “One Man’s Dream,” multiplied. While the Kevin Costner film was about a love of baseball, the Amelia Concours exemplifies mankind’s love affair with the automobile. ARTICLE CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

AUDIO OPTION

By W.B. Lawson

"PERSPECTIVE" column -- Observations of island life, news & opinion.