Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Amelia Island Concours d^Elegance March 2015
Amelia Island celebrated its first annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 1996 with the legendary race car driver Sir Stirling Moss serving as the Honoree. Twenty years later, at the 2015 edition of 'The Amelia', Sir Stirling was once again selected as the Honoree, and honored for his achievements in motor racing and the tremendous legacy he continues to build upon. In celebration, attendees were treated to the presence of over 25 of Sir Stirling Moss' famous race cars, including the three Mercedes-Benz silver arrows he won with in 1955, marking the first time all three historic vehicles were displayed together.

More than 315 magnificent cars and motorcycles from around the world participated in the 2015 Concours, delighting attendees with a remarkable automotive display of style and heritage. This year Stutz was the featured marque. Highlights on the field included the presence of automotive history's most rare classic models: the BMW 328, a collection of 1940s wood-bodied Chrysler models, the Porsche 914 model in its rarest variations and a plethora of pre and post-war racecars. Also on display were a number of outside of the box car classes such as a rare Orphan Concept class including the 1954 DeSoto Adventurer, 'Cars of the Cowboys' highlighting legendary western themed vehicles from TV and film and a 'World Rally Car' class. In addition, a 'Hot Rods: East Meets West' car class delighted car fans by highlighting the differences between East Coast and West Coast customizers and classic Hot Rod styling.

The Orphan Concept class was comprised of six concept cars from the mid-1950s to early 1960s. The word 'Orphan' was in reference to the marque of a motor vehicle that has discontinued business entirely. The cars in this class were from DeSoto, Hudson, Packard, Mercury, and Pontiac (although Mercury and Pontiac's parent company still exist, they are still considered 'Orphans'). GM Styling produced an X-400 Concept nearly every year from 1959 through 1964. Of those, only the 1960 and 1963 X-400 have survived. Making its first public restoration appearance at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours was the 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix X-400 Concept. Sitting next to the Mercury Concept was the Packard Predictor Concept, one of the company's last triumphs. The Predictor's design is credited to Richard Teague and it was built on a stock Clipper chassis by Ghia. Ghia completed the project in an amazing 90 days, just in time for the Predictor to debut at the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. It was created to 'gauge public opinion on concepts in product improvement and advancement under study by Packard-Clipper product planners,' according to company officials. 'The Predictor is not a dream car, nor is it next year's Packard.' Instead, the Predictor 'offers a realistic approach to functional styling'. The 1954 Mercury Monterey XM-800 Concept, awarded 'Best in Class' by the judges, was conceived by Mercury's Pre-Production Studio, headed at the time by John Najjar and built by Creative Industries of Detroit in 1953. It introduced previously unseen styling cues in Ford products: fins, Frenched headlamps, canted windshield pillars and sail panels, clean sides with concealed wheels and a hint of emerging technologies in the fiberglass body and fully chrome-plated fiberglass bumpers. Many styling cues appeared on the Lincoln Ford Mercury products in subsequent years.

Cars of the Cowboys
Cowboys were legendary and larger than life and it seems fitting that their steel horses that rode on four rubber tires, were equally extravagant. The Amelia Concours did an amazing job at wrangling up six prime examples including a Town and Country that was once owned by Leo Carrillo. He had a steer's head mounted on the hood. Sitting in close proximity on the show field was a 1958 Buick which had been used as a promotion for the TV show Wells Fargo Tales starring Dale Robertson. Custom features include two chrome-plated Winchester rifles exposed in the console area and each door panel was covered in Danish calfskin with Western-motif leather inserts and holsters holding a set of pearl-handled .38 caliber Colt revolvers. Jersey hide carpeting was used on the floors and lower door panels. A longhorn steer's head is overlaying the stock V8 hood emblem.

Nudie Cohn, the 'Rodeo Tailor to the Stars,' transformed 18 automobiles during his career, most being white Pontiac convertibles (nine examples are known to exist - two were on display at Amelia). The 1963 Pontiac Bonneville on display had actual Colt and Remington firearms and over 200 silver dollars mounted on the seats and brake pedal, many of them Morgan Dollars. Dusty Rogers claims Roy used to drive and hunt from the Bonneville around his ranch.

Forgotten Fiberglass
Fiberglass was a new technology in the early 1950s. It was plentiful, cost effective, easy to use, and an alternative to steel or aluminum which required a high level of skill, time and experience. The fiberglass-bodied sports cars were lightweight and strong, and were the primary choice for sports and racing car bodies. The Woodill Wildfire, built by B. R. 'Woody' Woodill, is considered, by most enthusiasts, to be the genesis of production American fiberglass sports cars. Although production was low, the car was slated to be Willy's answer to the sports car, until its ultimate acquisition by Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, which has already slated the Darrin to be their entry into the field. The Amelia had two examples of the Woodill Wildfire, one from 1954 and another from 1955. Also on display were fiberglass cars from various countries - the 1959 Toranado was built in England, while the Ladawri car on display was built in Burnaby, Canada. The car that took home Best in Class honors was the 1954 Woodill WIldfire Series II owned by Richard D. Foster and Jeanette D. Foster.

Hot Rods
One way to gain a true appreciation for the craftsmanship of Hot Rods and to visual the styling differences between the East Coast and the West Coast customs, is to have them lined up, side-by-side, with the West Coast cars on one side and the East Coast cars on the other. That is exactly what The Amelia did. With over 3,000 miles dividing the two coasts, it is only natural that the styles were different. East Coasters often favored channeling - where the body was dropped over the frame - creating a low silhouette appearance. The West Coast favored the highboys, as the sectioned silhouette cars (channeled) cars often upped the car one class in racing. Other differences including the cleaner (uncluttered) look on West Coast cars while the East Coast cars were often more 'decorated.' But as national magazine circulation began to grow, these differences began to fade away.

Stutz
Stutz was given two classes at this year's Amelia Concours (those built before 1929, and the other class for Stutz's built after 1929). Aesthetics never motivated Stutz. He was motivated by the desire to build winning race cars. He saw the incredible opportunity that racing offered in proving the capabilities of any new automobile. Harry started in the parts business. Soon, he was manufacturing axles for other car companies. His first complete car was delivered to the Indianapolis speedway in May of 1911. It performed flawlessly and finished 11th in the race requiring no mechanical adjustments, just a significant number of replacement tires.

The last Stutz was manufactured in 1934. Only 35,000 examples were produced during the company's 25-year history.

On display at Amelia was oldest Stutz Automobile in existence. It was built in September of 1911 and was just the 63rd car assembled in the Stutz factory in Indianapolis. Restoration took two years, it was completed in 2008 and all the accessories are correct and original.

Also on display were the Bearcat, a car that personified the Stutz name. The first Bearcats, built in 1914, were the reigning champion of the American sports car scene. It was a lightweight, low slung raucous monster using a large slow revving 4-cylinder engine, producing 60 horsepower. The name 'Bearcat' would be used for many years. Beginning in 1932, Stutz built 10 Super Bearcats. The Super Bearcat sported a dual overhead cam 8-cylinder motor (known as the DV32), displacing 322 cubic-inches and producing 156 horsepower. This combined with a shortened chassis and lightweight coachwork allowed the Super Bearcat to exceed 90 MPH. The DV-32 was a conundrum for Stutz; it was the company's greatest achievement and also its swan song. By the time it was introduced, Stutz's day was nearing its sunset. Between 1932 and 1934, fewer than 200 DV-32s were built. Approximately eight Super Bearcats have survived and one example was on display at Amelia.

Best in Show
Several minutes before the Best in Show announcement, the trumpeters made their way to the judges stand, and a beautiful red, prewar Mercedes-Benz Model S with coachwork by Armbruster was brought up to a staging area. This was the car we guessed might win Best in Show – and, at the time, it appeared that it was being positioned to receive the award. To our surprise, it was brought in front of the judges to receive another award. This left us perplexed as to what car would be given the coveted prize. That question was answered a few minutes later; the judges had selected the Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster to be the most elegant vehicle on the show field. The black and white modern-classic was completely redesigned by renowned Wisconsin architect and car designer Stevens who acquired it in 1930. The Cord competed in many driving events including the Copperstate 1000 Rally and several hill climbs and races until Steven's death in 1995.

We ventured a guess (in our head) for Best in Show 'Concours d'Elegance', however, we stayed clear of venturing a guess to which vehicle might win the Concours de Sport. With over 25 cars piloted by Sir Stirling Moss, a Ferrari Formula 1 group, Corvette Racers group, Porsche 914 group, and several Sports and Racing categories, picking the 'Concours de Sport' would be very difficult. In the end, it was the 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, owned by David Sydorick of Beverly Hills, CA, that received the award. The judges selected the Alfa due to its racing heritage and impeccable restoration. The short chassis 'two-three' Spyder 8C was introduced in 1931 and won the Mille Miglia in 1932, 1933 and 1934 as well as the Spa 24-hour race in 1932. The car has a powerful Jano-designed straight-eight twin overhead cam supercharged engine.

'Both the Cord L29 and the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 are well deserving of the Amelia's 20th Anniversary Best in Show awards, with their impressive automotive style and historical pedigree,' said Bill Warner, Chairman and Founder of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. 'I'm not sure how our esteemed panel of judges was able to pick just two winners, given the record number of world-class entrants we had at this year's Concours. I congratulate them on their excellent selections and I hope we can make their job harder in 2016.'

Additional Activities
In addition, some of the world's most prominent manufacturers and dealers chose the Amelia Concours to debut their latest models and creations. Lamborghini held the North American debut of the company's newest and fastest super car, the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, following the vehicle's global debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. Galpin Motors and Henrik Fisker also held the global unveiling of Fisker's stunning GT Coupe design study, 'Thunderbolt,' based on his personal interpretation of the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish Coupe. Galpin also displayed the production-ready version of the Mustang 'Rocket,' which debuted at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Manufacturers Alfa Romeo, BMW, Buick, Infiniti, Jaguar, Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Panoz also participated in the 2015 event.

Attendees also enjoyed two seminars, a tradition that has become one of the hallmarks of the Amelia Island Concours. The 'Design DNA of Iconic Cars' seminar included designers from General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche who spoke about maintaining each brands' DNA. The legendary Buick Y-Job, America's first true concept car and the Buick Avenir Concept were on display to enhance the seminar. In the seminar moderated by Tommy Kendall, Wayne Carini, Ray Evernham, Peter Klutt, Barry Meguiar, Bob Scanlon and Dale Walksler lead a lively discussion about the 'The Car Guys of Television,' which gave a behind-the-scenes look at producing automotive television shows.

RM Sotheby's, the official auction house of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, held their 17th annual Amelia Island Sale, with total sales exceeding $60 million, besting the company's record 2014 Amelia Island performance by 67 percent. This result represents not only the highest total ever for a sale held during the Amelia Island week, but also exceeds the combined total of all other auctions held in Amelia Island that week. They enjoyed a 98 percent sell-through rate, which included 13 included 13 individual million-dollar-plus results.

Hollywood Motors returned for their second year 'Amelia Select' auction, in association with the Festivals of Speed car show. Included in their lineup was an enviable array of Porsches, including several Pre-A models. Bonhams held their inaugural motorcar auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club where they achieved a 79% sell-through rate with nearly $14 million in sales. Gooding & Company realized more than $26.9 million at its annual Amelia Island Auction. They had an 89% sell-through rate with an average price per vehicle of $354,831.

Congratulations to the organizers and volunteers who continue to make this event the World's Most Innovative Concours Weekend.

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