Whimsical is not typically a word associated with world-class concours d’elegance. Formal and proper are more common; stuffy is even appropriate in many cases. The one exception year in and year out also happens to be the first major event of the season every year, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance held in March. Since 1996, the Amelia show has managed to field a mélange of interesting, top-quality, and exceptionally popular classic cars amidst the laid-back, low-key, less-uppity setting of Florida’s northeast coastline.
The event is the work of Bill Warner, whose desire to put on a first-rate concours without all the pomp and circumstance of other such gatherings has often put at odds with the establishment (see also: Pebble Beach). Undaunted, his work has resulted in 17 successful shows to date, firmly establishing the Amelia Island weekend as a heavy hitter for serious car collectors.
In typical fashion, this year’s event featured a mix of rather exotic (Ferrari 250 GTO gathering, anyone?) and considerably attainable (a flock of race-spec MGAs, for instance) machinery, with a broad cross-section of historical models across many generations and genres fairly represented. Special exhibits included Brian Redman’s former race cars, including his 917 longtail racer and this beautifully restored 911 rally car, former cover cars from Road & Track magazine, and a fine display of coach-bodied Cadillacs. General Motors also brought out a fleet of Corvette concept cars and one-offs from its heritage collection.
Oddball sightings are part and parcel of Amelia Island. What other concours would dare allow the Cyclops on the show field, let alone park it adjacent to a Maserati Ghibli? Regardless of how uncommon the entrants may be (often by their very commonality), the quality of the vehicles and their preparation is always on par with participants at other big concours. That perfect balance of sophistication and affability are not only a refreshing change – like Tina Fey in her Oscar dress and jewelry – but also an Amelia hallmark.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance takes place in March each year. Like other major collector car events, the concours is the pinnacle event capping off an extended weekend of activities including touring drives, auctions, seminars with legendary figures, banquets and general festivities with like-minded enthusiasts. The 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 8 through March 10 and will once again be held on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.
Related Photo Galleries:
RM Auction Preview
Gooding Auction Preview