Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2018
The 23rd edition of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance once again occupied the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island on the 10th of March, adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, with over 300 cars and motorcycles for the attendee’s delectation.
They say that “lightning doesn’t strike twice”, but this seemed to be the case as the weather forecast for the traditional Sunday show was ominous, as it had been last year, and the decision was made once again to bring the show forward to the Saturday. As it turned out, lightning didn’t strike twice, as the forecasters were awry in their predictions, with Sunday’s weather being equally as good as that on the Saturday, but the deed was done and Saturday it was. As was the case last year, Saturday’s “Cars & Coffee” gathering, normally held on the main show field, was transferred to the free to enter MotorXpo field across the street.
Each year, a motoring, or motor sport personality, is chosen as the honouree of the show, with the recipient this year being the 1972 and 1974 F1 World Champion Driver, and the two Indianapolis 500 winner, Emerson Fittipaldi. When he won his first World Championship he was the youngest ever champion at 25 years of age, a record that he held for 33 years, until usurped by Fernando Alonso in 2005 at the age of 24. His Indianapolis wins came in 1989 and 1993, the latter at the ripe old age of 47! As is the custom, there was a class dedicated to the cars that he had driven during his career, which included a 1970 Lotus 72, a 1974 McLaren M23, a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR IROC, a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 IROC, and the “humble” Renault R8 Gordini in which he won his first race in 1965.
The concours always has a number of special features amongst the various classes, of which there were 35 this year, ranging from a pair of Horseless Carriage classes, one of which was for pioneering electric cars like the 1895 Morris & Salom Electrobat IV, to a GTP class, featuring the mega powerful IMSA series cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s, like the Porsche 962 and Jaguar XJR 14. The feature classes included a 70th Anniversary of Porsche celebration, the 60th Anniversary of Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART), the 50th Anniversary of the Ferrari 365 GTB4 “Daytona”, a celebration of one of motor racing’s most iconic liveries, the red and duo tone blue colours of Martini Racing, a hunting car class, and a class dedicated to the wild custom creations of “Big Daddy” Ed Roth.
The latter two classes provided some quite amazing confections, notable in the hunting car class was the unique “El Kineno”, regional Mexican dialect for the owner’s King Ranch in Texas, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, where the car is still resident in the ranch museum. It was based on a heavily modified 1949 Buick platform, with custom coachwork by renowned GM style director Harley J. Earl, raised ground clearance for high speed travelling over rough terrain, and multiple special features, including rifle holsters in the front wings and a 6 ton winch hidden behind the radiator grille.
The custom cars produced by “Big Daddy” Ed Roth during the ‘50s and ‘60s were some of the wildest automobile creations imaginable, with equally bizarre names like Outlaw, Beatnik Bandit, Rotar, Mysterion and Orbitron. They were regular show stoppers which graced the covers of all the popular rod and custom magazines of the period, and although all were driveable, their “abstract thought” styling overrode practicality. The founder of the “New Journalism” news writing style and author of “The Bonfire of the Vanities”, Tom Wolfe, called him “the Salvador Dali of hot rodding”, which is an apt summary of his conceptual creativity.
A coup for the event was the international debut of the only Shelby Lonestar ever built, a mid engine V8 prototype based on a Ford GT40 chassis, which was created in secrecy in England during 1968 as an intended replacement for the Shelby Cobra. It had the Shelby internal reference “Cobra III”, but Ford has acquired the rights to the Cobra name the previous year, hence Carroll Shelby named it after his home state of Texas, “the Lone Star State”. The car never made production, and this prototype was bought by its current owner in 1975 in a reportedly sad state. It stayed with him untouched for many years, until he decided to have it restored, which was a lengthy process, taking over ten years to return it to its former glory, with Amelia Island being its maiden public showing.
The display of Martini liveried cars was a treat for Lancia and Porsche fans, with examples of the former including Beta Monte Carlo Turbo, LC1 and LC2 sports prototypes, a Delta Integrale, a S4 and a 037, together with a Fiat/Iveco Martini liveried service van, complete with 037 front clip in the roof rack. Martini Porsche was represented by a pair of 917Ks, one in silver and the other in white, overlaid with the famous red and duo tone blue swirling stripes, and a 935.
As might be expected, the NART class was predominantly Ferrari, predominantly red and predominantly competition car orientated, apart from a lone 1968 Corvette that the team had run at Le Mans, a 275 GTS4 NART Spider and a 365P 3 Posti, one of two of the central driving position examples built. There were also NART connections in the Ferrari “Daytona” class, with a 365 GTB4/C and a trio of special bodied examples commissioned by Luigi Chinetti Jr. Apart from the cars mentioned, the other classes had a vast selection of interesting vehicles of great diversity, making it difficult to take in everything during the course of the day, particularly when you added in the manufacturer displays and peripheral trade stands.
The prestigious Best in Show Concours d’Elegance Trophy was presented to a 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible owned by Harry Yeaggy. One of the early owners of this car was Edward Beale McLean, who also owned the famous Hope Diamond, frequently worn by his wife Evalyn, and whose family owned The Washington Post newspaper. A 1963 Ferrari 250/275P, from The JSL Motorsports Collection, was awarded the equally prestigious Best in Show Concours de Sport Trophy. This car won the 1963 Nurburgring 1000Kms Race, driven by John Surtees and Willy Mairesse, and the 1964 12 Hours of Sebring with Mike Parkes and Umberto Maglioli driving.
All Photos by Keith Bluemel