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Amelia Island, 13th of March, 2016

Yesterday saw the 21st edition of the annual Concours d´Elegance at the Ritz-Carlton in north Florida. After three days of action packed auctions finally the main event was held on the golf course of the five star hotel near Fernandina Beach.

Over the last few days tension built up with some worrying observations of the weather forecast that said torrential rain and thunderstorms coming into north Florida on concours day, some rumors even mentioned the concours might be preponed to Saturday to avoid a cancellation but as the storm slowed down the goal was to finish the main event before the expected rain in the early afternoon. So after the hour change to summer time the cars were given an early start to the field where the international jury was keen to get the cars judged way before noon to get the awards ceremony going. Usually this is a very long procedure with dozens of classes so unlike normally just the class winners and special awards were allowed to enter the arena rather than all the podium finishers.

Amelia Island is very much the eastern counterpart to Pebble Beach in August both in size and prestige but unlike Pebble the focus is a little more on the sportive side. Separated in two different fields Amelia does feature the typical concours classes of pre-war coach built beauties but also a wide variation of sports and racing classes including a featured race driver every year. After Sir Stirling Moss in the last year this years honored driver was Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck. Son of legendary Auto Union silver arrow and hill climb champion Hans Stuck Strietzel’s career was early on becoming works touring driver for BMW racing the famous CSL Batmobiles. Stuck came to F1 as part of the March team before having his highest finishes in the Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45B with two podiums. After his short F1 career Stuck went on to race at Le Mans for Porsche in their most successful time giving him two victories in the 962C alongside Derek Bell and Al Holbert.

Later Stuck joined Audi in their efforts at the American IMSA series driving the Audi Quattro.

Already on Saturday afternoon the cars were lined up for a group shot giving a nice impression of his achievements and a visible touched Stuck enjoyed the honors given by Bill Warner.

But not only drivers are featured at the lawn but also special classes are dedicated to legendary car designs or long gone marques. Certainly one of the former is the Porsche 356 in its early and purest design, both open and closed cars ranging from the Gmünd years to the legendary 4-cam Carreras were lined up in front of the factory display. More the latter is the Spanish manufacturer Pegaso although with only 84 examples of the Z-102 one can hardly speak of manufacturing. More than a dozen of these ultra-rare models were lined-up ranging from a completely unrestored Saoutchik model to the recently restored Enasa “Cupola” of the Louwman Collection. After being presented at last year’s Villa D´Este concours the red-wall tired show car was brought over from the Netherlands to give Louwman his first major concours award in the US as the striking yellow machine was named Best of Show Competition at the end of the day. Being also one of crowd’s favorites along the green Fiat 8V Supersonic that won the public award the Pegaso was particularly surrounded by spectators all day long.

But also American race cars could be admired on the green ranging from the Trans-Am display at the lake, race cars including Richard Petty´s legendary Plymouth Barracuda wearing the characteristic number 43 or the Greenwood Corvette line-up.

After the expedited award ceremony it was well before 3 pm when finally the winners were announced and apart from the Pegaso mentioned before it was 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom II Brewster Town Car from the Nethercutt collection that took the Elegance award. With the rain already visible on the horizon a quick winners photo at the lake was taken before the last cars left the field in the typical American way were a car show usually ends early in the afternoon and the tents are taken down even before the field is cleared.

We have put together a small sample gallery with some impressions of the field, a more detailed review will follow in a few days after next week’s Goodwood Members Meeting.

Text & images ... Peter Singhof

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