Going from strength to strength, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2010. A staggering 275 vintage cars were on display on the meticulously prepared lawns of the The Golf Club of Amelia Island adjacent to the majestic Ritz-Carlton hotel. Among the many visitors were our friends John Brooks, David Stephens and David Blumlein, who have brought us this 100-shot gallery
In the build-up to the event the hotel hosted several seminars as well as the annual RM Auctions Automobiles of Amelia Island sale. Here well over a hundred cars crossed the block with some very impressive results; the 'Whittell Mistress' Duesenberg found a new owner for $1.7 million, while bidding on an immaculate Ferrari 275 GTB/4 came very close at $1.65 million. New for this year was a Gooding & Company auction at the nearby Amelia Island Plantation. That sale was topped by the same Voisin C20 Mylord Demi-Berline, which had won the 'Best in Show' award at the Concours d'Elegance in 2009. Another lot of note was a Porsche RS 61 Spyder, which was acquired by none other than Sir Stirling Moss for $1.7 million.
Unfortunately Sir Stirling could not bid on the Porsche that had caught his eye in person after he was hospitalized due to a fall in his home. With two broken ankles and from his hospital bed he instructed a representative to make the winning bid. Moss was also due to take part in the 'Three Greats Seminar' together with NASCAR great Richard Petty and drag racing legend Don Garlitz. In Carroll Shelby a very worthy replacement was found. We hope to see Sir Stirling back in action soon, hopefully in his latest acquisition.
The honoree of the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance was Richard 'The King' Petty. One of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, Petty won 200 races during his career, including a record seven Daytona 500s. He attended the seminar and the concours on Sunday wearing his signature 'Charlie One Horse' cowboy head and sunglasses. 'The King' was joined by nine of the stock cars he used in his very long racing career. One of the most famous of these is the trick Plymouth Superbird with its low drag nose and tall rear wing. It was one of the last cars he ran in the trademark 'Petty Blue' colour-scheme. From the 1972 season onward he raced a combination of his own blue and the STP orange of his new sponsor.
One of the other special classes was reserved for cars that had graced the cover of Motor Trend magazine in the past. Featured in the September 1949 (second ever) issue of the magazine was the Norman Timbs' Special. It took Californian aircraft engineer Norman E. Timbs three years and a hefty $10,000 to build back in the late 1940s. The unusual machine consisted of a tubular frame with a mid-mounted Buick straight-eight engine and was clothed in a very slippery aluminium body. It made its post-restoration debut at Amelia. Another entry of note in this spectacular class was a very rare Kurtis road car, which was clocked at 142.515 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949. The driver that day was Wally Parks, the first editor of Hot Rod magazine.
For racing enthusiasts, it did not get much better than the class dedicated to the Porsche 917. The legendary endurance racer already turned 40 last year but it had a debut season best forgotten. Only in 1970 did things really come together for the flat-12 engined machine, so a celebration in 2010 is very appropriate. Close to a dozen examples were gathered at Amelia, neatly representing the many configurations the car raced in. The highlight was the actual car that won the 1970 and Porsche's first 24 Hours of Le Mans. A 917 class would not be complete without a Gulf liveried machine and Amelia featured several. Also present was a rare long-tail version in the mesmerising 'hippy' colours and several of the Can-Am cars.
As always the Concours d'Elegance was concluded by a rolling award ceremony. After all class winners received their silverware, the two 'Best in Show' recipients were called forward. The 'Concours d'Elegance' trophy was presented to Sam and Emily Mann for their fabulous Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster. Incredibly, this was the couple's fourth outright win at Amelia. Crowned as the best sports / racing car was Jonathan Feiber's Maserati Tipo 61 'Birdcage'. The 'Conours de Sport' winning machine had been driven to victory in the very last of the famous Cuban Road Races in 1960 by none other than Stirling Moss.
Close to 20,000 spectators flocked to the idyllic island just off the coast of Florida for the 15th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. With a field of cars, which is hard to match for diversity and quality, it is hard to imagine that one of them left Amelia Island disappointed. Like event founder and chairman Bill Warner, we very much look forward to another exciting 15 years. The first of these will be 2011 when the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is scheduled on March 11-13 at the same place.