Every year in the late winter, car nerds from all over the world flock to the northern Atlantic coast of Florida for the annual Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance. From the everyday man, to heavy hitter industry types, and big time collectors, the variety of nerd is vast. There are several things that make this Amelia event so special, but one of them is how this event blurs the line of the everyday man and the heavy hitters, and throws them all on the same nerdy level playing field. We are all there for the same reason, and that is for the love the automobile. People love cars for many different reasons, weather they’re full on gear heads that enjoy the mechanical intricacies of cars of a particular era, or people who appreciate them for the works of art that they are. Some may even be there for the love of the drive; ogling cars to imagine what it could be like driving an iconic ride. For me personally, I fall into all categories with a weighted curve on the side of art.
Typically I fly down and drive a borrowed car, but this year was to be different. I decided to drive my 1983 Porsche 911SC 650 some odd miles from Maryland to Florida to attend with my father in the passenger seat, and my buddy Joey following in his E92M3. Windows down, ear plugs in, the 3.0 liter flat six screaming down the highway, if this isn’t what dreams are made of, than I don’t know what is. The first time ever road tripping with my father, I couldn’t imagine a better ride to do this in. With only one hiccup with a few hairy heeled and mendacious Georgia State Troopers (that’s a story for another time); we made good time arriving in Amelia late afternoon on Wednesday. With dear friends arriving from all over the US to hang out for the week, we were all chuffed for what laid ahead.
Things kick off with the Bonhams Auction preview on Wednesday afternoon. All the auction previews are free, and there’s plenty to see at every one of them and they are definitely a must see in my opinion. I find it fun to see the difference in curation between them all, so much variety, so much unobtaniuml. The Bonhams Auction starts in the afternoon on Thursday, if you can score passes to any of the actual auctions, do so, it’s always fun to see the star car cross the lot and break a record. The atmosphere of the room can be intoxicating. The Gooding and RM Sotheby’s previews are typically open all day on Thursday and Friday as well, with Hollywood Wheels and Motostalgia offering previews then as well. Lots to do, lots to see and it’s ALL FREE!
Friday this year was the first ever Amelia Porsche Werks Reunion. With over 650 Porsches preregistered for the event, it was an absolute mad house. Porsches of all kinds were dotted throughout the fairways at the Omni Plantation. The Werks reunion is a long day in the sun, but worth the effort to see or participate in. Shortly before noon on Friday, the Gooding & Co. auction starts and runs till about 5pm. Again, if you can go, go. Just don’t sit in a seat you’re not supposed to sit in, because a very unpleasant lady will come up to you and tell you to beat feet.
With weather imminent for Sunday’s concours event, the event staff made the decision this year to move the concours event to Saturday to coincide with not only the RM Sotheby’s auction, but also the prodigious Cars and Coffee that takes place every Saturday before the concours (pro tip: if you want to show your car at the Cars and Coffee event, preregister MONTHS in advance. It fills up fast.). This is the first time this has been done since I’ve been attending, and hopefully the last. The cars and coffee event is second to none that I’ve attended. Expect to see odd ball cars from all generations. It is not without your typical exotics, big money collector cars, tuner cars of all types and styles, and your average piles of hammered dog shit. But it’s the the sheer number coupled with incredible gems dotted throughout that makes this event so special and worth attending. There are probably no less than a thousand cars on the show field. With over 300 cars yet to be seen over at the concours event, you can start see how it can be overwhelming with these two events coinciding as they did.
As we head to the concours event, we push my glasses up, tuck our shirts in, pull our pants up, and dial the nerdism up to eleven because things are about to get real. This year the cars on the show field were broken up into over 40 classes: Cars of Al Unser Sr., American Classics (Pre-32, 32-34, 35-48), American Limited Production, Bentley, BMW 501-507, Camaro, Cars of Brumos, Ferrari Production, European Custom Coachwork, European Custom Coachwork (French), Horseless Carriage (1895-1915, 40+ Horsepower), Jaguar D-Types, Japanese Prototype, Japanese Production Racing, Motor Scooters, Marmon, Mercedes-Bens (Gullwings), Movie Cars, Porsche (4-cam racing), Race Cars (Pre-war – 1981), Several Roll-Royce classes, Sports and GT (Pre-war – 1981), Special Display, Streamliners, and Vintage (1915-1921). In addition to the show field, many manufacturers bring out their latest and greatest and toss in a few historically significant cars to lure you in. Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, Maserati, Mclaren, etc all have cars on the field to poke and prod, and admire.
Some highlights from the event were the Al Unser Indy and F1 cars, the Japanese race cars, and the Jaguar D type cars. It’s amazing to see these little F1 cars with 1000 plus horsepower, blow off valves right behind the drivers head, and cockpits so small, I could barely fit a leg into them. Truly impressive to think about speeds and wheel to wheel racing these cars did, the drivers were gods of among men. Our friends at the REVS Institute brought out their incredibly original D type owned and campaigned by Briggs Cunningham. It was a real treat to see how the cars were actually raced back then and take in all the little details of the car. The BRE display with all the old Datsuns run by Peter Brock, from 510’s to Z’s, and even a Toyota 2000GT tossed in the mix, there was no shortage of savagery on display. The Brumos collection was another display that was really great to see. With the Snodgrass family and the Brumos name being synonymous with Jacksonville, it was great to see the respect paid to the family and the name for what they had accomplished. There is nothing more iconic in automotive racing than the red white and blue Porsche with the Brumos name.
With both the cars and coffee event running alongside the concours event, it became overwhelming for me. There was just too much to see in one day. The concours is event where I like to digest cars. I will find a car that checks all the right boxes for me, and walk it over several times and take it all in mentally. I may do this many times over throughout the day. While disappointing, it didn’t make the event any less special and it certainly didn’t sour the trip. If you ever have a chance to go, please do yourself a favor and make the trip. It really is worth it.