Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
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Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Forget winter blues -If you’re a car enthusiast then the place to blow away those winter blues is Amelia Island in Florida, with the annual Concours d’Elegance the 2008 edition being the 13th running. Bill Warner and his dedicated team always provide a spectacular offering for the aficionados of all things automobile. With more than three hundred cars and a fine selection of motorcycles at the Golf Club of Amelia Island fairways adjacent to the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Hotel, there is quite literally something for every taste.

It’s an honour - Each year a motoring personality is honoured, and this year it was American racing legend, Parnelli Jones, whose career has covered numerous racing genres, starting on dirt track ovals, rising to single seaters to win the 1963 Indianapolis 500, nearly won again in 1967 with STP turbine car, before turning his hand to Trans-Am, winning the series in 1970, add to this two wins at the daunting Pikes Peak hillclimb, plus twin wins in the off-road Baja 500 and 1000 races, and it can be seen that he could turn his hand to almost anything on four wheels.

Feature me – Apart from honouring a famous personality, the show rings the changes with themes each year, whether it be for an anniversary, specific marque, race series or achievement. For 2008 there were two car anniversaries, both centenaries, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of General Motors and the 100th birthday of the car that took motoring to the masses in the USA, the Ford Model T. Another centenary celebrated was the victory of the Thomas Flyer in the 1908 New York to Paris Automobile Race, with the winning car in attendance, together with thirteen other examples of the marque, in what is believed to be the largest single gathering of examples in one place at the same time. As if that wasn’t enough in special features, the show also celebrated the great Trans-Am period of racing between 1966 and 1972, with a vast array of the cars that took part, ranging from the relative minnows like the Datsuns, Alfa Romeos and Lotus Cortinas, to leviathans like the AMC Javelins, Chevrolet Camaros, and Ford Mustangs.

Classy Classes – The cars on show were arranged in a total of thirty seven classes, covering the automobile from the beginning of its creation and most of its diverse incarnations, including French custom coachwork, with some beautiful Delahayes, a Delageand a Darracq-Talbot Lago. In the European Classic pre-war class there was a svelte and very rare 1938 Horch 853 Special Roadster, a forerunner of today’s Audis. American pre-war cars were understandably also well represented with some really impressive examples, like Duesenbergs (with their own class), Auburn, Cord, Pierce-Arrow and Stutz to name but a few. There were also many European marques on display, and Ferrari GT cars had their own class. Within this there was an almost time warp 212 Inter Ghia bodied coupe, which the current owner bought in 1952 through Piero Taruffi in Turin, so it has been with him for 56 years, it still has the original interior and has done only just over 29,000kms in that time! There was also a class for Iso and Bizzarrini, which included a P538 with V12 Lamborghini engine, plus a spectacularly white, red and blue liveried Iso Grifo Bizzarrini 5300 Corsa A3/C. In the Race Car category there was a 1938 Maserati 8 CTF monoposto, which was bought by Lucy O’Reilly Schell in 1939, and was the first Grand Prix car to be owned by an American woman. It ran in every Indianapolis 500 race between 1940 and 1953, and won the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in 1946 and 1947 driven by Louis Unser.

And the winner was! – After a lengthy prize giving ceremony for all the class and corporate awards the big moment (or moments) came, the announcement of Best of Show. The overall award went to the imposing 1935 Duesenberg J Roadster of Sam & Emily Mann, with the Best of Show Concours de Sport award going to the Ferrari 335 S Spider of Scuderia N.E., the third year in a row that a Ferrari has taken this award.

Keith Bluemel


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