The 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance took place this past weekend. With special guests such as this year’s honoree, Al Unser, Sr., as well as a discussion headed by Adam Carolla featuring Peter Brock, John Morton, Sam Posey, Chip Robinson, and Tommy Kendall, there was no way I was going to miss this. In addition to the great drivers of early Japanese racing, there was a BRE Datsun 510, 240Z, and 2000 Roadster out on the grass. The winningest RX-7, the Malibu Grand Prix, driven by Tommy Kendall was on display as well. And the Prince R380 made its American debut, one of the first purpose-built Japanese race cars.
If you grew up in the heyday of these cars, or like me, have a passion Japanese automotive history, this was the year for you.
Typically, the outdoor portion of the event spans the weekend, with a Cars & Coffee on Saturday and the Concours d’Elegance on Sunday. But with rain threatening the festivities on Sunday, the schedule was consolidated down to both the Cars and Coffee and the Concours events occurring on Saturday this year.
Friday, March 10
On Friday, owners were getting their cars set up and in place on the lawn. Most were driving in and parking.
The Marmon Wasp that won the first Indianapolis 500, driving by a Jaguar E-Type convertible.
Walking through, I noticed a rusty old French car being pushed back and forth by several men trying to get it to the right spot on the hill.
One of the men was Wayne Carini. I was staying out of the way and just watching at first until they asked for help pushing. Very carefully, I pushed against the spare tire to help get the car into position, and to avoid harming the unrestored paint.
I later learned that the car had recently been found after having been put away back in 1959.
That will probably be one of my most lasting memories from this year, helping Wayne Carini push a 1930 Minerva up a hill.
The car had a regalness to it, even in its unrestored state.
Inside the Ritz-Carlton, the RM Sotheby’s auction area was active with bids being placed.
If you wanted a closer look though, the outdoor auction display allowed a better perspective to some of the vehicles on offer.
The Z-car with the heart of a Hakosuka, the 1970 Fairlady Z 432.
1959 Devid D Porsche
1947 Morgan F Super
Complete with what looks like a tiny indented continental kit.
Ferrari 166 Barchetta
The list of final selling prices can be found on the RM Sotheby’s results page, for those interested.
On the way out that evening, I and some others spotted an ultra rare McLaren F1 LM (1 of 5 produced).
The photographers swarmed like bees, but we mostly respected each other’s shots, taking efforts to get out of the way and move at least somewhat together.
Saturday, March 11
Saturday was here and with it the full show of cars, uncovered and ready for display, some being fired up and driven to the awards presentation area.
First up were the classic Japanese race cars, here one of the BRE Datsun 2000 roadsters with the Bob Sharp 300ZX Turbo in the background.
The rear hatch was full of John Morton memorabilia.
Who would happened to be standing around the BRE Datsun 510, but Peter Brock and driver John Morton.
They were probably still telling stories about the old days, as I heard the man from the Nissan Heritage Collection say he could listen to the two of them talk all day. I really had to agree after the talk I’d attended the day before (more about that in a separate post).
Before I knew it, Pete and John dropped into the 510 (with Pete sitting on the floor) and drove off with it. They supposedly made some appearances over at the Cars & Coffee field with it during the day. I’m guessing that may have been where they were headed.
1982 IMSA RX-7 GTU
1967 Toyota Shelby 2000GT
As one gets familiar with so many of these rare cars over time, the show begins to become just as much, to me, about the people attending as it does about the cars themselves. You can wander around Amelia and just bump into legendary drivers such as Derek Bell and David Hobbs, who are seen here in front of a 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB Competition and a 1972 365 GTB 4 “Daytona.”
It’s an interesting place to “people-watch,” as folks look over vintage interiors and faded or highly polished paint.
CSX 3159, known as the “King Cobra” was originally purchased for the sole purpose of drag racing.
1957 Corvette Super Sport, created to debut Chevrolet’s ramjet fuel injection in 1957 at the Waldorf Astoria as well as the Chicago Auto Show. It hadn’t been seen in public in 60 years.
In addition to the classic Japanese race cars, a selection of Brumos Porsche race cars were on display as well this year.
1959 Maserati Tipo 60/61 Streamliner, prototype of the “Birdcage.” 1955 Kurtis-Kraft Streamliner from the 1955 Indianapolis 500, and the 1952 Ford Golden Rod, as in golden hotrod. The Golden Rod was built on a Ford Model A frame and was powered by an Oldsmobile Rocket V8. It went just over 205mph back in 1959.
I had a much better view of the awards ceremony this year, thanks to the folks at Meguiars who invited me to hang out in their tent with our friend RJ deVera. The Mazda 787B made an appearance (although unfortunately wasn’t started up) and below, the 1956 and 1957 LeMans winning Jaguar D-Types. I have so many more photos from here and down on the grass that there is just too much to include in this post, so I may need to share those under a separate post.
This year’s Best of Show winners were an Alfa Romeo and a Duesenberg. Concours d’Sport: 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider from the Dano Davis Collection. Concours d’Elegance: 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ-582 owned by Terence Adderley.
After attending another fantastic Amelia Concours event and hearing some very loud, very rare metal, the show was over. Sometimes the hardest part of attending an event like this is getting myself to go home. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible.
Photos Copyright 2017 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf