The 15th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Orlando, Florida (March 17, 2010) – The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is one of those events I wanted to check off on my “must attend” list. I’m certainly glad I’m now able to. Having met event organizer, Bill Warner at the Harry Miller Meet in 2008, he spoke enthusiastically about the event and I was impressed with his zeal for the event. Event coverage in magazines such as Victory Lane and Bill’s ability to attract motorsports legends such as Sir Stirling Moss, Indianapolis 500 winners Bobby Unser and Johnny Rutherford piqued my interest. Seeing the event first hand, he can be proud of all the hard work. However, behind Bill are a strong team and many volunteers making an event that the communities of Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville, Florida have embraced. This year was the 15th annual event and featured an event record of 275 cars and a crowd of about 18,000, also a record.

This year, legendary stock car legend, Richard Petty was the honoree. Petty, winner of 200 NASCAR races and seven national championships was an absolute gentleman who greeted fans with his trademark cowboy hat and smile. Petty signed hundreds of autographs during the weekend and attendees got to view seven legendary Petty stock cars. The oldest was one of my favorites, a 1957 Oldsmobile hard top, which Petty also raced as a convertible early in his career. Also on display were a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere, a winged 1970 Plymouth Superbird, 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, 1974 Dodge Charger, 1977 Dodge Magnum, 1982 Buick Regal and 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Some of the racecar drivers and motorsports legends and esteemed guests seen at the event included Derek Bell, Tim Considine, Vic Elford, Hurley Haywood, John Horsman, Charley Kemp, Butch Leitzinger, Denise McCluggage, Sam Posey, Brian Redman, racing engineer Steve Roby and Bobby Unser. I apologize if I missed someone.

The event has been sponsored by Mercedes from the beginning. Many fine and rare examples of the German automaker graced the grounds of the elegant Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. Some of the models present included the Le Mans-winning 1952 300 SL and 1956 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupe, along with the all-new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Mercedes had the 2010 E63 sedan and SL63 AMG convertible equipped with 6.3-liter V8 engine that puts out 518 hp available for consumer test drives. I drove the luxurious four-door sedan which has the ability to top out at 186 m.p.h. Needless to say, I was impressed. From the paddle shifting Speedshift DCT seven-speed automatic transmission option, multiple spring settings which can be adjusted in three steps: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ and of course the throaty rumble of the 6.2 liter V-8. Also on display was Mercedes-Benz’s current lineup of models, including the new E-Class Cabriolet, as well as a few past favorites like the SLR supercar and Maybach duo.

RM Auctions held their 12th annual ‘Automobiles of Amelia Island’ at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday. Held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the single-day sale saw 112 cars cross the block, with four cars topping $1 million. The top seller was a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Sport Berline from the estate of collector John O’Quinn, which sold for $1,705,000. A 1932 Duesenberg Model J from the collection reached $825,000. Other cars from the O’Quinn collection included a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing coupe that sold for $687,500, and a 1935 Auburn 851SC Speedster for $418,000. Several Ferraris also went on sale, including a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta that sold for $1,650,000; a 1967 alloy-bodied Four-Cam that sold for $1,265,000; and a 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder, formerly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, sold for $1,017,500.

The 2010 winners included, Best of Show – Concours d’Elegance went to Sam and Emily Mann’s 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster. Beautifully detailed, rich silver paint, this is one of three 540Ks bodied with a covered spare tire, it was believed to have been originally delivered to Adolph Eichmann when he resided in Argentina. The Manns’ have multiple Best of Show wins at Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook and Amelia Island. Best of Show – Concours de Sport went to a exquisite 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” owned by Jonathan Feiber. This particular Maserati was entered in the 1960 Cuban Grand Prix by Camoradi USA (Casner Motor Racing Division) and its owner “Lucky” Casner. Driven to victory by Sir Stirling Moss, the win was the only professional victory under the Castro regime. Moss also co-drove with American Dan Gurney in the Tipo 61 to win the 1000 KM of Nurburgring.

Sir Stirling Moss was scheduled to attend this year’s event. However, the active 80 year old stepped into an empty elevator shaft in his London home the week prior, falling twenty feet, suffering broken bones in his feet and ankles and damaged vertebra. Thankfully, his injuries are not life threatening and that his heart and mind are as strong as ever.

The Amelia show has raised an estimated $1.6 million for Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, as well as other charitable organizations such as the local Spina Bifida Association.

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