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.

(2011 AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE ARTICLE CONTINUED… OR BACK TO PREVIOUS PAGE 2)

A contributing factor to the success of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance over the years is the dedication and determination of the organizers to delve further into automotive history — more so than most other similar events. The Amelia Concours organizers dig deep to identify and properly honor significant milestones in the history and evolution of the automobile and racing.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Winner of Motor Trend magazine's "Classic" Trophy at Amelia Concours 2011
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Winner of Motor Trend magazine’s “Classic” Trophy at Amelia Concours 2011

In addition to the recording breaking crowds at the Amelia Concours main Sunday show (this year held on March 13, 2011), two of the world’s foremost auto auction houses had successful sales in two separate events. It appears this investment asset class – collector autos – is healthy, even in the Great Recession (read related article about the auctions and investment autos “Amelia Island Host To Investor Vehicles, Collector Car Auctions”. Final sales volume at Amelia Island surpassed $42 million in a 2-day period. (RM Auctions sold $24.3 million of investment vehicles, while Gooding & Company sold $17.8 million). The top single collector car sale on this barrier island over the weekend was a 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Coupe that went for $4,290,000 (sold by RM Auctions at the Ritz-Carlton.)

CARS THAT SELL FOR MORE THAN LUXURY OCEANFRONT ESTATES

To put this in perspective, consider that during the calendar year 2010, the top home sale for the twelve month period on Amelia Island was a single-family oceanfront estate in “The Sanctuary” that sold for $3,944,000. (This was a luxury beachfront home with approximately 8,700 square feet on a 1.23-acre oceanfront lot.)

MORE ABOUT AMERICA’S ELEGANT DUESENBERGS

The Iowa-based Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company was founded in 1913 by two German-born brothers. Only the wealthy and famous owned these custom cars, including Howard Hughes and Hollywood royalty like Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. As a Great Depression-era vehicle affordable by few, a limited number were produced. Duesenberg race cars won the Indy 500 in 1922, 1924, 1925 and 1927.

DUESENBERG DUO WIN THE 2011 AMELIA CONCOURS

In contemporary times, the Duesenbergs are still winners at the most formidable collector auto shows in the world. At the 16th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2011, as noted above, a duo of Duesenbergs won the competition’s top awards. These amazing vehicles were described as follows by the show’s news release March 16, 2011:

“The Concours d’Elegance award went to the 1933 Duesenberg SJN Arlington Torpedo Sedan from The Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, CA. Dubbed the “Twenty Grand” for its unheard of price tag in the 1930s – $20,000 – the car was originally built for the Century of Progress Exposition also known as the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair. Gordon Buehring, Duesenberg’s legendary stylist, was consulted on the car’s restoration when the Nethercutts purchased it back in 1978 and the car is exactly as it was when it left the factory for its World’s Fair appearance. It was the Nethercutt’s third time winning best in show at Amelia.”

“The famed 1935 “Mormon Meteor,” the Concours de Sport winner, is a vehicle that requires no introduction. Now owned by Harry Yeaggy, the car was making its third visit to Amelia and was freshly restored back to its original speed record trim. Once dubbed the “fastest, most powerful car in the world,” the Duesenberg Special/Mormon Meteor is the definitive pre-war race car and it is still considered the ultimate Duesenberg by collectors worldwide.”

“100 YEARS OF CHEVROLET” DISPLAY

Chevrolet, one of the most well-known American brands in the world, celebrates its 100 year anniversary in 2011. At “The Amelia” were classic Chevrolets as well as race cars.

Special to the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was the 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne (pictured below), a concept car built by GM. It’s just one example of the great rescue and restoration stories that surround some of these vehicles. Considered one of Harley Earl’s most intriguing designs, the Biscayne was a four-passenger tour de force by Earl and his styling team. The Biscayne was produced for the popular Motorama shows of the 1950s. Literally in pieces, this car 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.

1955 Chevy Biscayne, GM Motorama Concept Car Rescued From Junk Yard, 22 Year Restoration Process
1955 Chevy Biscayne, GM Motorama Concept Car Rescued From Junk Yard, 22 Year Restoration Process

“I LOVE MY CHEVROLET,” THE FILM, WILL APPEAR ON PBS IN 2012

Whether you’re a Chevy enthusiast, collector, or mechanic, film makers are seeking the public’s input for possible use in a PBS documentary in production about Chevy’s presence in American culture. The director, Roger Sherman, is a founder of Florentine Films, 2-time Academy Award Nominee (also a Peabody and Emmy Award winner). People can share their Chevrolet car stories, photos, etc., and stories may be used in the 2012 documentary. READ MORE, CONTINUED ON PAGE 4 FEATURING RACING GREATS

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By W.B. Lawson

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