Held annually on Amelia Island in Florida, the Concours d’Elegance is the top show of its kind east of Pebble Beach. In its 18th year, the concours attracted over 300 cars and a sizable, well-heeled crowd.
Among the many classes were several honoured 50th anniversaries – Porsche 911, Corvette Stingray, Ford GT40 and Lamborghini. Adding to that, a collection of 21 Ducati motorcycles marked the company’s 50 years of competition in the Isle of Man TT.
Concours like this tend to place an emphasis on pre-war classics. The “Elegance” winner of the show was the 1936 Duesenberg SJN convertible coupe from the Nethercutt Collection in California, while the “Sport” winner was one of the 14 GT40s in attendance; the Le Mans winner in both 1968 and 1969 from the Rocky Mountain Auto Collection in Montana.
The judges handed out a slew of awards, declaring winners in each of the 34 classes as well as many other awards. Two that caught my attention are the Porsche 935-K3, winner of the Porsche 911 Racing Class, and the tiny four-wheel 1959 Messerschmitt Tiger 500, winner of the What Were They Thinking Class. The 935-K3 is a recently-restored car I saw win at Le Mans in 1979, driven by the Whittington brothers and Klaus Ludwig. As for the tiny Messerschmitt, I remember Bob Long, the London-based Formula 4 proponent, running one of these for years.
Another Londoner, Cadillac collector Steven Plunkett, entered a stunning 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.
Sam Posey, perhaps best known these days for his television commentary, was the Honorary Chairman. Among the nine Posey-related cars on display were the 1971 Ferrari 512M, which he co-drove with Tony Adamowicz to third place at Le Mans that same year.
Another traditional feature of Amelia, the seminars this year included sessions about the GT40 with Bob Bondurant, David Hobbs, Brian Redman and others; the Porsche 911 with Hurley Haywood, Alwin Springer and other Porsche notables, and the Corvette Stingray with Ed Welburn (VP of Global Design at GM) and Peter Brock, who designed the original version.
Canada’s RM Auctions ran the official auction at Amelia, lending to its long-standing tradition as one of the world’s leading auction houses. RM saw 92% of its 85 cars sell for a total $26.8 million. A 1935 Duesenberg SJ convertible, similar to the 1936 Duesy which won Best in Show, went for $4.5 million. The RM lot also included five vehicles that fetched over $1 million each, including a 1933 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria ($1.512), 1948 Tucker 48 ($1.475), 1952 Ferrari 225 ($1.237), 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB ($1.375) and a Gulf-liveried 1970 Porsche 908/3 ($1.3).
Gooding & Company also ran a smaller, off-site auction to take advantage of the Amelia crowd. It sold 69 lots for a total of $28 million. The top-seller was a 1928 4.5-litre Bentley Semi-Le Mans Tourer, which was hammered down at $2.75 million. Another Ferrari 275 GTB from 1966 sold for $2.365 million. Of the 11 Ferraris on sale at Gooding’s auction, five sold for more than a million dollars.
“Amelia is more than just an event. It’s a celebration of the past, present and future of automobiles,” says Bill Warner, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “We gathered the very best in classic cars, racing history and automotive superstars together for the 2013 Concours and I don’t know how we’ll repeat it in 2014. Then again, I’m sure we'll think of something.”
The 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is scheduled to be held March 7-9, 2014. Later this year, Warner will present an Amelia Award to a HSR member who races at the Classic Motorsports Magazine Mitty races at Road Atlanta this year. The winner of the award will be invited to participate in the concours at Amelia in 2014.
Written by George Webster | Photography by Neil Rashba & Gooding & Company