For the last 21 years, collectors and lovers of classic cars have been descending on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach in north Florida to experience the annual Concours d’Elegance.
By Helmut Dostal
As a charitable foundation, “The Amelia” has exceeded three million dollars in donations to the community and over the years has given aficionados of some of the world’s most desirable vintage automobiles a chance to strut their stuff. This year, for the first time, Homefront had the pleasure of spending two glorious days at the Concours alongside the stars.
For anyone fascinated by the beauty, technological innovation and unique history of classic cars, an event like the Concours d’Elegance is one of great anticipations. Being here provides me with the enviable opportunity of not only admiring the remarkable vintage displays, but also comparing notes with the cars’ proud owners and handlers. Stories of famous original owners and juicy tidbits combine with historically significant data to create a thrilling air of insider secrecy between excited attendees.
Show and tell
Throughout that weekend, the breathtaking ocean-front golf course at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, was the playground for many of the 100 dazzling oldies, with their brass and chrome polished and shining in the sunshine—a hole in one performance, to be sure, for the star-studded crowd of autophiles.
Some of the luxury car manufacturers did not pass up the opportunity to show off their own history, as well as their most current automotive achievements. A very special milestone for BMW, its 100th anniversary—a reason to celebrate. The team displayed their 2002 tii, the cult car from the early ‘70s that created what’s now known as the “sports sedan category.” In its recent release, the newest member of the category, the high-powered BMW M4 GTS, was touted with the same fervour. What a journey from the 2002 tii to today’s street-legal 305 km/hr, 493 hp super car that is at home on the road as much as on the race track.
On the block for $17 million
For many, the highlights of the weekend are the two-by-two classic car auctions, held by both RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest in this classic car specialty, and the iconic Gooding & Company.
As each gleaming treasure was par-aded in front of us, the atmosphere was charged with electricity, the excitement accentuated by the roaring applause that broke out to congratulate each new owner. Auctioned beauties ranged from a 1964 VW Camper sold for $99,000 to a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe that sold for a mere $2,640,000. Many were
restored to mint condition and a few were over 100 years old.
It was Gooding that eventually dropped the gavel on the weekend’s ultimate bid with a stratospheric record sale, a newsworthy $17,160,000 for a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider.
It was BMW who organized this year’s “Legends” dinner event, honouring Hans-Joachim Stuck. Stuck raced all of BMW’s iconic race cars during his 30-year career on the track including the Nürburgring Nordschleife. He also won the 24-hr Le Mans and Watkins Glen in the U.S. Famous for his cheerful disposition, Stuck kept invited guests on the edges of their seats with tales from his career and quips about his life-long competitors and friends.
“The Amelia”; a truly memorable event that delivered impressions that will last me a lifetime…Roll on 2017!