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Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, 14 March 2010.

The fifteenth running of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and on the adjacent fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach, had Richard “The King” Petty as the Honoree for the 2010 edition, and featured a special class for the cars that he drove through his long and illustrious career. As a reminder, he won 200 races, including no less than seven Daytona 500 wins, and during the 1967 season alone he won twenty seven races, with an amazing ten of them on the trot. In 1997 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and named one of NASCAR's fifty greatest drivers the following year.

Another celebration was the 40th anniversary of Porsche's inaugural wins in both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, with a special class for the vanquishing 917 model, with eleven examples on display. The 50th anniversary of Sir Stirling Moss' victory in the last Cuban Grand Prix was another feature, with a special class for cars of the Cuban Grand Prix. Unfortunately, due to a fall down a lift shaft at his home in London the week before the concours, when he broke both ankles, the greatest driver never to win a World Drivers' Championship, was unable to be in attendance.

Each year that I visit the show, I think surely it is impossible to equal or better what has gone before, and equally each year I am amazed to find that Bill Warner and his team have done it again. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but they seem to find a wide array of the spectacular, interesting and obscure for our delectation. Apart from the special features mentioned, there was a truly spectacular and diverse array of machinery on the show field, enough to slake the thirst of any automobile enthusiast. The entry comprised of over 270 cars, plus a Triumph motorcycle class, arranged in 34 classes, which included a special one for Founding Sponsor Mercedes-Benz's famous 300 SL “Gullwing” model, whilst there was another class for thirties models, which included a 290, a 500K and six of the 540K leviathans. There is always a Ferrari class, and this comprised of a fine selection of fifties and sixties road cars, including a freshly restored beautiful white with red interior 250 GT PF S1 Cabriolet owned by Lammot J. duPont, and a stunning pale metallic green 250 GT SWB California Spider, from the Lee Herrington Collection.

Apart from the classes already mentioned, there were a wide variety of others spanning virtually the whole history of the automobile, including obscurities like “Forgotten Fibreglass”, “Etceterini” and “Cars You Never Knew Existed”. In the former group there were American home brewed concoctions, whose names mean little or nothing to most people, like a Glasspar G2, an Almquist Sporster and a Mysterion Roadster, but somebody loves them a preserves their history.  The “Etceterini” group was devoted to small Fiat based Italian manufacturers like Abarth, Bandini, Moretti, Siata and Stanguellini, whilst the “Cars You Never Knew Existed” included a Leyat Helica, a HURST Floor Shift Special, a Di Dia 150 and a Fascination Prototype Two-Door Sedan!

The Best In Show Concours d'Elegance award went to a spectacular gleaming silver 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K, owned by Sam & Emily Mann from Englewood, New Jersey, whilst the Best In Show, Concours de Sport award went to a 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage”, belonging to Jonathan Felber of Menlo Park, California.

Make a note in your 2011 diary for the 16th edition, which will be held on Sunday 13 March.

Keith Bluemel