“Bad Cars, Good Fun” Seaside At Fernandina’s Main Beach Park

The not-so-serious, lowbrow Concours d’Lemons pokes fun at automotive mistakes of the past.

Concours d’ Lemons — The Amelia Island Edition

For those who missed it, here’s a recap of the fun, free event held at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park, the Concours d’Lemons. The show has plans to be back again in spring of 2022 (the first weekend in March), for those who’d like to attend next time.

Concours d'Lemons, car show at Fernandina's Main Beach Park in 2021. Photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com

Concours d’Lemons is a show at the other end of the spectrum from the highbrow Amelia Concours d’Elegance (world-renowned for dazzling, rare collector cars — the ultimate competition of excellence). Instead, the not-so-serious, lowbrow Concours d’Lemons, sponsored by Hagerty and Classic Motorsports magazine, poked fun at automotive mistakes of the past.

Hagerty’s host, Brad Phillips, strolled around and bantered with owners, not shy with wisecracks. Signs around the show also garnered chuckles.

"Soul-Sucking Japanese Appliance," photo, Concours d'Lemons Florida, Fernandina Beach.
“Soul-Sucking Japanese Appliance” Cars, Concours d’Lemons, Fernandina, FL

It’s an event that lives up to its description, “celebrating the oddball, mundane, and truly awful of the automotive world.” Whether the vehicles had been poor selling models or whatever the case, the oceanfront setting of Main Beach was a nice backdrop for the show. There was plenty of sunshine and a welcoming sea breeze as one wandered around the field of lemons.

Some vehicles were rather rusty, neglected-looking specimens. Others had modifications, some bizarre transformations. The car on the receiving end of the most attention, however, was a very familiar-looking DeLorean with a neat story and fundraising objective (more about this further below).

Dynamic-Looking Duo By The Main Beach Boardwalk

Besides the DeLorean, there was a wonderfully restored old station wagon that also stirred up some car envy, with its cute camper. The 1959 Edsel Villager Wagon was another nostalgic head turner.

1959 Edsel Villager Wagon, Concours d'Lemons 2021 Florida, Main Beach in Fernandina. AmeliaIslandLiving.com magazine.
1959 Edsel Villager Wagon & Restored Shasta, Concours d’Lemons Florida 2021 at Main Beach in Fernandina on Amelia Island.

The ’59 Edsel Villager Wagon with trailered Shasta was parked next to the boardwalk at Main Beach. Picture yourself behind the wheel, driving this duo into Fort Clinch State Park for a camping adventure, (or any other state or national park). They seemed a natural fit with the retro vibe at Fernandina’s Main Beach. Just across the lawn is a Putt Putt golf course that also dates back to the year 1959. Fernandina’s Putt Putt holds claim to being “the longest continually operating Putt Putt franchise of America.”

The ’59 Edsel Villager Wagon with camper were presented by Classic Motorports, one of the sponsors of the Concours d’Lemons. The duo were also on display at another free show earlier the same day, the Cars & Coffee at the Concours.

Why do Edsels fit the lemon category? The Ford brand has been called “the poster child for commercial failure.” Learn more about why Edsel failed in article published by Hagerty (it was “a perfect storm of overwhelming adversity” ).

Two DeLoreans On Amelia Island

What are the odds of the presence of two DeLoreans on this small barrier island at the same time? The likelihood is slim to none, except during the events surrounding the Amelia Concours.

This DeLorean, pictured below at Main Beach, was driven to Fernandina by owners, Oliver and Terry Holler. The car had amazing mileage (827,000 — that’s a lot of road tripping)!

1982 DeLorean DMC-12 "time machine" replica at Fernandina's Main Beach Park. Photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com
1982 DeLorean DMC-12 “time machine” replica at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park.

The Hollers attend events around the U.S.A. and internationally, raising donations for the Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research. They’ve raised over $800,000 utilizing their DeLorean. The couple departed with the top award at the Fernandina’s Main Beach show, as the Concours d’Lemons Florida 2021 “Worst In Show” winner.

The most famous DeLorean in the world owned by Universal Studios from the 1985 blockbuster hit film, “Back To The Future,” was not at Fernandina’s Main Beach. Instead, it was near the Ritz-Carlton at the Golf Club of Amelia. A popular highlight of the 2021 Amelia Concours d’Elegance, Universal’s car was displayed inside a protective “jewel box.”

Cute Little Crosley — “Rust Belt American Junk”

1949 Crosley CD Wagon, Concours d'Lemons Florida, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.
1949 Crosley CD Wagon, Concours d’Lemons Florida, Fernandina Beach

This 1949 Crosley CD Wagon is owned by a local resident who lives on the other side of the Shave Bridge on the nearby mainland adjacent to Amelia Island. When interviewed by Hagerty’s host of the event, Brad Phillips, the owner said their lawn mower had more horsepower than the car. There was some worry that the Crosley wouldn’t make it over the bridge. Nevertheless, it did, traveling about 5 miles to arrive at Main Beach.

Advertised as getting 50 miles per gallon, some now consider Crosleys to be the only “compact American car” of its time (1940s). But back then, car sales were lackluster and Crosley Motors of Indiana ceased production in a short number of years.

This savvy local Crosley owner had prepped for the show, bringing along bribes (lemon vodka nips), to win the favor of judges as they came by. However, there was no lack of spirited competition at Main Beach. Some judges may have heard about the bar just steps away, offering “the largest whiskey and bourbon selection in Florida.” With over 1,000 choices, maybe they opted to sneak over to the Sandbar & Kitchen and do some judging.

March 5, 2022 — Concours d’Lemons Florida

As the show came to a close at Fernandina’s Main Beach in 2021, the crowd was thanked for coming. The announcer then said, “if you’re dumb enough to show up next year, we’re dumb enough to do it again.” Got a junky car? Make plans to show it off while having some fun in Fernandina Beach. Or just show up to watch this “show and tell.”

The Concours d’Lemons Florida 2022 will be back on Amelia Island Saturday, March 5, 2022. But note the Lemons event is moving from Main Beach to the Golf Club of Amelia, as part of Saturday’s “Cars & Community” event happening March 5, 2022.

Amelia Island Living has published numerous articles about the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance over the past 20 years, browse archives.

By The Editor

Observations of island life, news & opinion by Wendy Lawson. With background that began at a newspaper, she later spent 14 years in the financial services and real estate industries (managing editor at an equity research publishing firm). She's enjoyed the laid-back Amelia Island lifestyle since 1993.