The last 18 years have seen something historical take place on a tiny resort island in Northern Florida. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is a unique automotive gathering located on, you guessed it, Amelia Island, Florida – specifically the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel and resort.
While Pebble Beach owns the title for largest Concours in the world, Amelia Island has created something truly special. Yes, it’s hard to imagine a modern Concours taking place on anything but a golf course in a luxury zip code but Amelia brings a unique element to the formula – racecars.
Attracting motorsport legends, both vehicular and human forms, along with some of the most stunning and rare cars from across the world. The mission behind the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is to make the automobiles the stars of the show.
This year’s honoree was none other than Sam Posey. A legend who’s etched his name into the history books of Le Mans, Can Am, INSA, Trans Am, Indy, Formula1 just to name a few. He was accompanied by some of his colleagues of the era, Sir Sterling Moss, Dan Gurney, Brian Redman, David Hobbs and Bob Bondurant just to name a few.
Never mind the enormous amount of wealth associated with such shows, the cars are what attract all walks of attendees. Each looking to get as close to the cars of their dreams, soaking up the smell, embracing every touch and cherishing each sounds as the car’s spirits come alive again. Amelia offers a rare chance to meet the drivers that piloted these amazing machines as you pursue the show field. One attendee flew all the way from Brisbane, Australia just to walk the grounds amongst his heroes.
Amelia is a unique place amongst historical automobile shows. Being as such, they not only offer a Best in Show award but two. One for Elegance and one for sport car. Meaning racecars and coachbuilt antiques are both up for the prestigious honor. This year a 1968 Ford GT40 (#6) Le Mans winning chassis was awarded the Best in Show Concours de Sport. While a 1936 Duesenberg SNJ from the Nethercutt collection took home Best in Show d’Elegance. Marking a unique occasion where two American cars took home top honors. Awards that often find themselves on the belt notches of European marques.
Entering the show grounds you get a sense of just how diverse the showcase is. You stroll past vintage Mercedes racecars, a recent million-dollar Ferrari auction racer, various Brass-Era cars and to top it off an aerobatics show put on by local WW2 aircraft. Amelia has it all.
In celebration of several manufactures celebratory anniversaries, the field was sectioned accordingly. Porsche celebrating its 50th anniversary of the 911 and Lamborghini celebrating its 50th year supplying exotic dream cars each marque brought out the very best of their collections. Porsche called upon their loyal fan base producing rare race cars, exclusive skunk works cars and of course Porsche with a pedigree all unto their own like the ????. Lamborghini displayed three icons on the same stage. First their new Aventador Roadster, next to it the one of one Miura Roadster and bridging the gap was none other than Valentino Balboni – enjoying his first Amelia Island Concours this year.
BMW also swung for the historical fences bringing out several rare M1s including a ProCar edition, a McLaren F1 GTR and one we couldn’t keep our eyes off of, the 1976 BMW 3.0L CSL Frank Stella Art Car. Which we were told produced 950hp when it famously raced Le Mans. On hand was none other than artist Frank Stella himself, side-by-side with Sam Posey as they discussed how the car came to be and their fond memories of touring the European race circuit together.
There is no doubt that in its short history the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has blossomed into something special. No matter what you hear, Amelia is not a copycat show. It is deeply rooted into the souls of every collector, racer and fan as a gathering that showcases machines that excite imagination – past, present and future. For us, the show means much more than idolizing our heroes, car and man, it gives us the opportunity to explore the wide range of automobile expressionism that reaffirms our devotion to the automotive community in the first place.
Stay tuned for our continued Amelia Island Concours recap, as we break down our test drives in a 1967 Porsche 911S, a 1963 Corvette Stingray and a 2013 BMW M3 Coupe Lime Rock Park Edition. As well as our coverage of the RM Auctions, Gooding & Company auctions and an exclusive dinner with Sam Posey and Brian Redman.