Amelia Island calls for my first Florida concours weekend

European classics at last year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance | Neil Rashba photos
European classics at last year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance | Neil Rashba

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is often called the Pebble Beach of the East, which pays homage to the Monterey granddaddy-of-all U.S. concours and puts Amelia Island into perspective for its huge level of success, both in popularity and prestige.

Coming in second is an honor in this case, especially considering that in 20 years Amelia has pulled ahead of any number of top-drawer concours that are older and perhaps better located.

The broad-shouldered concours on the Atlantic coast of northern Florida has claimed its own space in the classic car firmament for a sprawling and good-natured show of elegance unlike any other. Under the guidance of founder Bill Warner, it has gained a reputation for attracting some of the world’s most spectacular vintage automobiles as well as mounting such unique featured classes as Cars of the Cowboys and Orphan Concept Cars that we’ll see this weekend.

Glamour on the grass
Glamour on the grass during Amelia Island Concours | Neil Rashba

The 20th anniversary Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, to be held Sunday on two fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz-Carlton resort, should be quite a grand event. And it will be extra special because I get to be there for the first time.

Sure, I’ve seen the photos and read the articles about the rise of the Amelia Island Concours, but there’s nothing like taking in the grandeur in person.

I will be filing reports and photos for ClassicCars.com during my tour of the three days of events that lead up to Sunday’s concours, including four major collector-car auctions – RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, Bonhams and Hollywood Wheels – driving tours, car shows, art shows, parties, seminars, book signings, celebrity appearances and other such diversions.

The auctions, including Bonhams debut at Amelia, should witness more skyrocketing values for collector cars, especially rare and historic race cars, and anything Ferrari.

The restored Jaguar is back together again  | RM Sotheby’s
The 1955 Jaguar D-type coming to auction | RM Sotheby’s

Some of the top auction cars include a terrific 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica cabriolet selling for charity and a cool 1955 Jaguar D-type race car valued at $3.75 million to $4.25 million at RM Sotheby’s (the merged company’s first auction under its new name); a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, estimated at $3.4 million to $3.8 million, and a historic 1956 Maserati 200 SI with a legendary racing history (value “estimate upon request,” so you know it’s a lot) at Gooding; and a rare 1930 Cord L-29 town car in spectacular preserved condition at Bonham’s.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Wheels dedicates the first day of its two-day sale to Porsches, which also have been ripping in values. I’ll be sure to check out that sale since I’m kind of a Porsche geek.

Sunday, I’ll be strolling among the 300 or so exceptional vehicles scattered around the grassy fairways for the Amelia Island Concours. From what I’ve been told by friends and colleagues, Amelia is quite a different experience from Pebble Beach, which I’ve experienced several times. Should be great, and the weatherman is all thumbs up. But it’s Florida, so who knows?

The 2014 concours-winning Horch and Scarab | Neil Rashba
The 2014 concours-winning Horch and Scarab | Neil Rashba

I will report which cars win the two best of show prizes for Concours d’Elegance and Concours de Sport (which I think is the way to go, giving an equal shot to the grand classics and the sports/racing/GT cars at taking home a top trophy). Last year’s winners were a 1937 Horch 853 cabriolet and a 1958 Scarab race car, respectively.

Joining me for the fun at Amelia Island will be ClassicCars.com East Coast editor and veteran collector-car expert Andy Reid, who will be filing his reports during the festivities. Thursday morning, starting at 10 a.m., he also will lead a preview tour of the cars of the RM Sotheby’s auction.

Watch in the days following the concours for what should be a splendid Eye Candy photo gallery of Sunday’s concours by photographer Tom Strongman.

Also, stay tuned for random tweets and Facebook postings from Andy and me during the four days of Amelia Island.

Read all our Amelia coverage so far right here.

 

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