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2006 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
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Click here to open the slideshowRM Auctions Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island
Yet another very successful classic car auction has come and gone this past weekend at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida. RM has been auctioning classic cars since 1991 and they clearly showed their experience in this competitive business by selling over 98% of the listed vehicles at this event. The range of car manufacturers was diverse and included such rare names as Allstate, Maxwell and Rockne. As usual however the big names were present as well; Duesenberg, Talbot Lago, Bentley, and of course Ferrari.

The display field was neatly arranged in the Ritz-Carlton oceanfront courtyard, adjacent to the sand dunes of the Atlantic. All 109 vehicles were available for close inspection by prospective buyers all day Friday and Saturday morning before the official auction began at 11:30 a.m. Bidding began with 12 consecutive lots from the Smokey Mountain Car Museum including a five-wheeled 1919 Briggs & Stratton Flyer. What appeared to be a go-cart type child’s toy of today was described in its original advertisement as “a sturdy, strongly built and highly efficient two passenger vehicle combining all the delights of motor sport with the practical convenience of rapid transportation at an insignificant cost.” It was estimated to sell for $8,000 - $12,000, but excitedly finished at $20,900.

Auction Feature Cars
As mentioned earlier, some rare names were on the list but it was the familiar names that brought in the big dollars. A powerful looking J. Gurney-Nutting bodied 1931 Bentley 8-Liter Sportsman Coupe with disc wheels and a large sliding sunroof required nearly $1.5 million to change hands. Talbot Lago Teardrop Coupes have been consistently known to bring in seven-figure values as we’ve seen in previous auctions such as RM’s 2005 Monterey event. The T23 Model offered at Amelia was finished in metallic blue with brown leather and is one of three ‘Jeancart’ styled Teardrops. Another similar model sold at RM’s 2005 Monterey Auction for $3.685 million, so the $2.145 million bid for this example sounds like a deal.

We had the pleasure of photographing the offered 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Alloy Berlinetta Competizione back in January during the Cavallino Classic track days, and it’s safe to say that this car is in full working condition. Bidding immediately began in the seven figure range and finally hammered down at $2.75 million.

Other notable lots included a 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster that Ed Leslie owned and drove to the SCCA A/Production class championship in 1964; sold for $1.65 million. Several Shelby Mustangs also produced some bidding frenzy with a 1965 GT350R Fastback topping the list at $990,000. Suitably, the charitable entry was also the most dramatic. A hill-climbing beast nick-named “Satan or Morimar”, this modified 1953 Hudson Hornet had Twin H-Power and was estimated to sell for $30,000 - $40,000. It graciously topped out at a surprising $110,000.

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Regarded as ‘a Concours as good as Pebble Beach, but without the ego,’ the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has quickly grown to be one of the world’s finest, especially considering it’s only celebrating its 11th year. This year’s affair benefits the Community Hospice of Northern Florida and similar to other large Concours, was held at a prestigious location; in this case the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and adjacent Golf Club of Amelia Island. With this being our first year in attendance, we were pleasantly surprised to find some exceptional entries, and some very interesting categories. With nearly 300 entries in 37 Classes, organization is key, and Chairman Bill Warner and his staff excelled in all aspects.

This year’s Honourary Chairman was racing legend Johnny Rutherford, and was appropriately reunited with his 1974 Indy-winning McLaren M16. Unfortunately without even an ounce of asphalt nearby, Johnny was restricted to doing a very slow victory lap in front of thousands of spectators on lush golf course grass.

With so many classes, where should we begin? Perhaps the ‘Promotional Vehicles’ class was the most fascinating. Where else would you see a Budweiser boat, Twin Zippo Lighters, a can of V8 Vegetable Juice and a white Horse Statue all on four wheels? Somehow the selection committee decided that the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile was too tacky for this show.

A featured marque for this years running, Stanley was represented by 19 spectacular examples of steam power from the early days of automobile engineering. It was a particularly special event to see so many of these temperamental horseless carriages in full operation, considering the average 30 minute startup time. Can-Am racers were also featured this year, and required plenty of lawn for the twenty-three entries; all of which had interesting racing histories to share. In comparison, the Microcar Class was made up of eleven tiny entries but were strategically located beside the motorcycle class so as not to lose them completely in the mix.

The massive retro display caravan GM Futureliner received a lot of attention at one end of the field whereas the many alternative fuel vehicles were crowded at the other. A wind propeller driven 1932 Helicron stood out beside a coal-fueled 1938 Citroen Traction Avant, but it was a turbine-powered 1968 Lotus 56 Indy racer that won best in class and later screamed its way over to receive its award.

Most people would be lucky to see a DuPont on display at a Concours or museum so to see nine of these beauties in one place surely is an exciting occasion. Fittingly, DuPont had their own class and the Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance went to the 1931 Model H Sport Phaeton owned by Richard Riegel, who also won Best in Class and Most Elegant Open Car at Pebble Beach last year.

Best in Show, Concours de Sport went to the 1961 Le Mans winning Ferrari TRI61, which had not been seen in public for many years.

Conclusion
Consider this yet another exceptional concours event to add to our already extensive list. The weather couldn’t have been better, and the site was perfectly suited for a world-class vintage car show. For your viewing pleasure we have captured our impressions from the Auction and Concours in a 200-shot slideshow.

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Report and images by Rob Clements for Ultimatecarpage.com.