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.


Race cars of Bobby Rahal, Honoree, Amelia Island Concours 2011
Chevy March 82G in Collection of Race Cars of Bobby Rahal, Honoree, Amelia Island Concours 2011

Besides the Honoree, Bobby Rahal, other race car drivers also at the Amelia Concours 2011 (along with race cars they drove), included Don Prudhomme, Hurley Haywood (Brumos Porsche 934.5), Vic Elford (Porsche 907, Daytona 24 winner), Janet Guthrie (Bryant Heating and Cooling Lightning), Johnny Rutherford (Chaparral 2K), David Hobbs (Corvette GTP), Dan Gurney and Brock Yates (Cannonball Ferrari Daytona). A race car driven by the late Dale Earnhardt was also part of “100 Years of Chevrolet” on display (#3 GM Goodwrench).


Mercedes-Benz vehicles showcasing a piece of the Company’s 125 year were also on display at the 2011 Amelia Concours, including an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen (marking the invention of the modern automobile). Other Mercedes on the field attracting attention were a 1965 600 Pullman Landaulet built for Pope Paul VI, as noted above, a 1972 600 Pullman bought new by Playboy’s founder, Hugh Hefner (accented with a model dressed in Playboy bunny attire), and a 1972 600 Pullman limousine which was owned by Luciano Pavarotti.


Elegant, Vintage Dresses, Ladies Near 1921 Brewster at the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
Elegant, Vintage Dresses, Ladies Near 1921 Brewster, 2011 Amelia Concours

The essence of a bygone era was recreated by a foursome of folks dressed in vintage style garb, standing beside a 1921 Brewster (owners Colonel Frank and Patricia Wismer of Connecticut). Considered the finest carriage maker in the world during the Victorian era, Brewster was “The Carriage of American Gentlemen,” and some of these carriages traveled the streets of Fernandina, right here on Amelia Island. With the end of the era of carriages, Brewster got into manufacturing automobiles.

Even now, an original Brewster carriage is still pulled by horse around the streets of Fernandina Beach, Florida (only used for special occasions, parades and weddings). Old Towne Carriage Company, a horse and carriage tour operator in the Fernandina historic district (owned by Rita Jackson), acquired an original Brewster Carriage a few years back that had been a local family possession for generations here in Fernandina.

There’s also a Brewster Victoria carriage, purchased by Andrew Carnegie over a hundred years ago, undergoing restoration in 2011 on neighboring Cumberland Island. In storage at an antiquated carriage house, it sat neglected for more than half a century. (The Georgia sea island is just north of Amelia Island, and was mostly owned by the Carnegies until 1972 when the majority of the island passed to the US National Park Service.) Once the Brewster Victoria restoration is completed, the carriage will be on display (likely by the end of 2011) at the Cumberland Island Museum in St. Marys, GA.)

A bottle of champagne chilled in an ice bucket beside the 1921 Brewster. Considering Prohibition in the U.S. began in January 1920 under the Volstead Act, it seems these folks weren’t the teetotaler-type. It was easy to imagine this Brewster parked at a speakeasy. The Brewster company of New York was eventually absorbed into Rolls-Royce America, Inc.

Many corks on champagne bottles popped this weekend on Amelia Island (and the Mojito stand on the show field was also popular). The occasional scent of a fine cigar wafted on the sea breeze. It was a marvelous day celebrating cars. From the vibe of the crowd in attendance, it appeared most went home feeling like winners.

The 16th Annual Amelia Concours may have made history itself on March 13, 2011. According to an article by The, it was “perhaps the best collection of historic race cars ever assembled.” That does set the bar high for next year.

Amelia Island’s 17th annual event returns to the Golf Club of Amelia, Summer Beach at the Ritz-Carlton, March 9-11, 2012, so mark your calendars and book hotel rooms well in advance. It’s a time when the island’s lodging sells out. A special 50th anniversary celebration of the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO has been announced as one special feature of the Amelia Concours 2012. According to a news release, “The GTO was built between 1962 and 1964, and is universally considered the most coveted of all Ferraris built. These vehicles rarely change hands and when they do, it is usually via a private transaction.”

The Amelia Island Concours website will post their official image gallery in coming days, with hundreds of photos of the recent event taken by the Foundation’s official photographer.

Also read related articles by Amelia Island Living covering the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance:

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

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


By W.B. Lawson

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