Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival

Hilton Head Concours d^Elegance & Motoring Festival December 2006
The 5th Anniversary of the Hilton Head Island Concours, held on the grounds of the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn Hilton Head Island, SC, occurred during the early part of November, 2006. This years event paid tribute to the Cars of Indiana and Indianapolis Pace Cars. The concours was the last event of a busy weekend which included Vintage Track Days, Worldwide Group Auction, VIP Reception, Southern Belle Fashion Show, a concert which was 'A Salute to Frank Sinatra', seminars, art previews, Car Club Jamboree, two driving tours, BMW's Ride and Drive, and more.

The grounds of Honey Horn provide an excellent location for the Concours. The beautiful Charter Oak trees, historic buildings, and grassy pastoral setting create a peaceful atmosphere and a feeling of tranquility. The weather was enjoyable and the sun seemed just as happy to see the cars as did the spectators.

The Cars of Indiana
This years honored marque was the cars of Indiana which included cars from the Golden Age of manufacturing such as Auburn, Duesenberg, Cord, Stutz, and Studebaker. With more than four-hundred cycle-cars, automobiles, and trucks produced or assembled in Indiana, they were a formidable contender to Michigan as the automotive Mecca of the world. In the early 1900's, the Hoosier state had more automobile assembly plants than Michigan. By 1909 they had slipped into second, behind Michigan, for automobile production supremacy.

Indiana is in the middle of the United States and within a few hours of other major cities. Being centrally located helped the distribution of its products. The region had suitable resources, materials, climate, and labor. What it lacked, among other things, was a mass-produced automobile that was economically feasible to the majority of the public. The cars of Indiana excelled in their quality, aesthetic appeal, and craftsmanship. Most were hand built and destined for high-class society.

The further demise of the Hoosier state in automotive production was the rise in competition and the onset of The Great Depression. Most automobile manufacturers were forced out of business at this time. Studebaker was one of the few that would persist, lasting until the early 1960's.

The state of Indiana has continued to produce automotive parts and electronics and been a major contributor to the automotive industry. During the past twenty years, many marque's have created facilities in Indiana for the purpose of automotive assembly and production. The list includes names such as Toyota, AM General, Subaru-Isuzu Automotive, Inc, and GM, to name a few.

At this years Hilton Head Concours, the Cars of Indiana were honored for all their beauty, creativity, innovation, and history. Their contributions to the automotive industry are profound. Special categories were created this year which allowed the vehicles to be parked together and admired in groups. Their lineage was able to be seen just by walking down the row of cars.

Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars
The first Indy 500 race was held in 1911 and won by Ray Harroun in a Marmon Wasp. At the time, the race was known as the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race. In 1919 it was called the 'Liberty Sweepstakes' race. A year later the name reverted back to its original name. It took many years, but the 500-mile race is now known as the 'The 500,' 'Indianapolis 500,' or 'Indy 500.'

Ever since its inception, a pace car has been used to guide the racers around the track prior to the race and during caution. Being invited to pace the race has evolved into a very prestigious honor. The first marque to handle these duties was the Stoddard-Dayton Company of Dayton, Ohio. Stutz performed the duties the following year. This was a tremendous honor for the Indianapolis based business which had just begun the production of automobiles. Their entrant into the 1911 race had placed an impressive 11th place. Soon, the company became renowned for their high-performance roadsters such as the Bearcat. At this years Hilton Head Concours, there were many Stutz Bearcats assembled; a tribute to Indiana and the Indy 500.

The most senior member of the Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars on display was the 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster. On the other end of the spectrum was the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette which recently performed its duties, driven by Jay Leno, at this year's Indy 500. This was the 8th time a Corvette has been invited to pace the race, a tradition which began in 1978. The Corvette also served as Pace Car for the Daytona 500, Rolex 24 Hours and LeMans 24 Hour Race. Chevrolet has paced 16 previous Indianapolis 500 races, more than any other brand.

Concours Winners
Judging is done on a 100-point system where the condition of the entire vehicle is closely examined and judge. This includes interior, exterior, engine, and chassis scoring with bonus points for elegance.

The coveted Best In Show went to the 1931 Chrysler Waterhouse with the very rare Convertible Victoria body. It was also awarded Best in Class in the American 1916-1931 category. There were many suitable candidates for this prized title, but the judges felt that the Waterhouse bodied Chrysler was the most elegant, of the highest quality, and carried the most historical significant. The Waterhouse Coach-building Company had a short but prestigious career that included the creation of nearly 300 custom bodies. It is believed that twenty-five are still in existence and only three Chrysler's Waterhouse bodied cars exist. A Packard 840 with Waterhouse coachwork was recently sold at the 2006 Christies Auction in Monterey where it fetched nearly $450,000. This is a testament to their desirability, rarity, and quality.

The 1914 Locomobile Berline was awarded the People's Choice award, Fifth Anniversary Award, and Best in Class for the Brass Era Pre 1916 category. In its day it was considered by many the 'American Rolls-Royce' in standard. The Locomobile Berline has a custom French body by Kellner and is the only known remaining example of the Berline coach style. The interior features imported fabrics and silver lamps by Tiffany.

The Locomobile Company produced automobiles from 1899 through 1929. The name 'Locomobile' had been pieced together from the words 'Locomotive' and 'Automobile'. The union of these two words led to the word 'Locomobile'. Their first vehicles were steam-powered vehicles and later went on to produce vehicles powered by the combustion engine. They were the first United States Company to build an automobile that won an international event. Throughout the years they built a reputation for providing luxury cars that had superior performance. In 1922 the Locomobile Company was acquired by the Durant Motors Company though the name 'Locomobile' would persist on new vehicles until 1929.

The Family Project award went to the eye-catching Nash Metropolitan. The two-door vehicle is finished in a two-tone color scheme and has seating for four. Its short wheelbase means a comfortable but tight fit for its occupants. A luggage rack on the top of the vehicle provides additional room for storage. It was built in Great Britain and then sold by American Motors as the Metropolitan. Research revealed that it would be more cost-effective to produce the vehicle overseas using existing mechanical components rather than to invest in tooling costs in the United States. After searching and negotiation, the production was handed over to Austin of England. The Nash Metropolitan was very significant for its era because its design was contrary to most other American Manufacturers. Instead of building large vehicles that would fit comfortably on the large American roads, Nash created a car that was smaller than the Volkswagen Beetle. The company had felt that an economical means of transportation would be important for many American consumers; production lasted for eight years with over 100,000 examples produced, which included import and domestic sales.

Arguably, the most flamboyant cars on display were the Delahaye and the Talbot-Lago/Darrocq . This was not the first time these two cars, both with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi, have been placed in the same category and competed for the Best in Class Honors. After a full restoration the Talbot-Lago was shown at this years Pebble Beach Concours where it was awarded 'The French Cup'. Shortly thereafter, it was shown at the Radnor Hunt Concours where it was awarded Best of Show. At the Hilton Head Concours, it was the Delahaye 135M which rolled away with top honors, winning Best in Class.

The Showfield
One of the more interesting vehicles on display was the 1911 Breese Paris Teardrop Roadster. It is one of sixty-five created. There are only 3 in existence, as car #4 thru #65 sunk on a ship, on the way to the USA. The long and large front of the vehicle conceals its engine which is capable of carrying the roadster to speeds of 80 MPH. The angular and over exaggerated front fender guards give the illusion that the vehicle might fly away.

It is believed that there were 208 examples of the Sabra produced. 55 were sold in the UK and 153 were exported to the US. The Sabra Sport was introduced at the 1961 New York Auto Show. The car came with either a re-moveable hardtop or a convertible top - not both. The Sabra was born when Autocars, an Israeli firm, commissioned Reliant, a British car company to build them a sports car. The Sabra Sport was to be sold as a new entry in the growing US sports car market in the early 1960's. Sales were poor for many of reasons; they did not come equipped with several popular amenities. The Sabra Sport was offered at $3,500 comparable to the Austin-Healey 3000, but its performance was more in line with MG Midget selling for only $2,000.

A 1962 Sabra Sport made an appearance this year at the Hilton Head Concours. The design is impressive and it's sad that history was not kinder to its future. The car shown has seen very little road time and has been treated to a recent restoration. It is one of the finest examples of its kind in existence.

It took twelve workers in a facility near Paris, France, to produce one car per fortnight. The result was the Sandford, a three-wheeled motorcar that was powered by a 35 horsepower engine. The 1927 Sandford S Grand Sport on display was a popular favorite with many visitors of the concours. Its unusual design and shiny-silver body had many congregating next to it wanting to learn more. The popular question seemed to be 'what is it like to drive?'

In 1913, Hudson created five cars with six-cylinder engines for the purpose of proving the potential of the six-cylinder engine. On display was one of those vehicles. The 1931 Marmon Sixteen Sedan Convertible on display was just as impressive. It was powered by a sixteen-cylinder engine, one of the few cars to ever be powered by such a monstrous engine. The engine and most of the vehicle were constructed of aluminum. It is believed that only five four-door sedan convertibles have stood the test of time.

Less than 2000 examples of the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine were ever created. The completely original example on display is powered by a 390 cubic-inch engine, jointly developed by Hurst Performance and AMC. It has a Borg-Warner T-10 transmission, Hurst shifter and 3.91 gears. Standing close by were a pair of Pontiac GTO's; the GTO is considered the first true muscle car. From their debut in 1964 until their demise in 1974, the GTO is admired and respected as a performance machine.

From classic to station wagons, the Hilton Head Concours had them all. There were special displays which feature performance automobiles; this category was dubbed the 'Quest for Speed.' The brass era cars are always a favorite, admired for their simplicity and innovation. The designs of the 1920's and 1930's are probably the most appealing to the eye. The boat-tail shapes are creative and married the designs of water-going vessels of those that traversed the land. The Auburn 8-100 is considered by many to be a rolling sculpture of art. The 'coffin-nosed' Cord 810/812's bold, classic, and clean design was inspired by aviation. They have been honored by the Museum of Modern Art, which named the 810/812 Cord as one of the 10 most significant cars of the 20th century. The 'Modified' category was a special category which invited select individuals to display their interpretation of the classic automobile. These vehicles had been modified from their original design and given a unique appearance consistent with the owners tastes.

The compact muscle car of the 1960's with their large engines and phenomenal power-to-weight ratio's are some of quickest and fastest automobiles to travel America's roadways. Their purpose was to dominate the quarter-mile circuit. They proved their prowess at ever stop light they encountered. The increasing government regulations, safety concerns, and impending oil embargo was the only thing that could tame these beasts. In response, some automakers shifted to larger vehicles that offered luxury. Others went in the opposite direction and created smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

This history was visually available at the Hilton Head Concours.

Conclusion
Warm and sunny weather in November is enough to bring a smile to most peoples faces. Fill their view with some of the greatest cars ever produced and you have the ingredients for a successful, popular, and enjoy event. In its fifth year, the Hilton Head Concours is continuing to prove that their event is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Worldwide Group Auction, held in conjunction with the concours, assembled a very impressive display of automobiles that pleased many buyers and entertained the spectators. The hard work and dedication of the 300-plus volunteers was evident. The planning and organization was top-notch. The carefully selected group of automobiles that graced the lawn of Honey Horn was a sight to behold.

This event continues to grow every year. Only being in its fifth year, it is impressive that there are the number of activities available to the spectators and entrants. The Car Club Jamboree held on the day prior to the concours attracts hundreds of antique, classic, and specialty cars from the 1940's to current vintage. Presented by local and regional Car Clubs, these cars are reminiscent of years past. An array of muscle cars, hot rods, and European performance cars were on display.

Throughout the weekend there were 10,500 attendees that had the pleasure of sharing in this years celebration. The hard work and dedication of the concours personnel, volunteers, exhibitors, enthusiasts, and sponsors are greatly appreciated. This is a very fun event and one that should not be missed.
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