Having earned its reputation as the most daring and least stuffy of the world’s great concours, the 24th edition of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance proved this yet again with fun, innovative classes like Rock-Star Cars and Guitars, Heads of State, and VW Custom Coachwork. At the same time, Amelia didn’t drop its mantle as an event that attracts the crème de la crème of important historic automobiles, from early Locomobiles to Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwings.
Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the concours, always insists on a strong representation of significant race cars. And this year, the show confirmed its eclectic sensibilities by including not only the racing machines piloted by the honored driver, Belgian’s wonderfully gifted Jacky Ickx, but also a selection of dragsters. Other racing classes included a comprehensive collection of Porsche 962s and Indy Innovation, a collection of Indianapolis 500 racers that attempted to change the paradigm at the Brickyard.
Revs Institute’s 1951 Porsche 356SL Gmünd Coupe was one of a number of fascinating vehicles making up the Race Cars 1946-1957 class, one of four era-based race car classes.
The Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance Trophy was given to a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier owned by The Keller Collection at the Pyramids, while the 1957 Ferrari 355 S owned by Cavallino Investments took home the Best in Show, Concours de Sport Trophy. An imposing yet nuanced design, the 540K Autobahn-Kurier, as its name implies, was built to take advantage of the new high-speed highways that were being constructed in pre-World War II Germany. It is believed to be one of just two such cars built on the 540K chassis and equipped with the supercharged engine. As with many racing cars, the trophy-winning Ferrari 335S began its life as a 290 MM, and then was upgraded to 315 S specs and finally to 335 S form over its busy three seasons of racing. It participated in major races including Le Mans, Sebring, the Mille Miglia, and the Nurburgring 1,000 kms, driven by a Who’s Who of Fifties racing legends.
On a more whimsical note, the Rock-Star Cars and Guitars class, curated by John Oates of Hall & Oates, paired specific vehicles with individual guitars. The Heads of State class featured limousines and parade cars that transported kings, queens, Popes, Presidents and even a dictator. The VW Custom Coachwork class, a nod to the 70th anniversary of the VW Beetle’s arrival in America, featured several little-seen Rometsch coupes and convertibles, a special-bodied open-air Mexican wedding Beetle, and Revs Institute’s 1956 Beetle by Dick Troutman, among other intriguing rarities.
Blessed with sterling weather for both Saturday’s immense Cars and Coffee and Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance, the 2019 Amelia Island weekend delighted masses of automobilisti and portends a stirring 25th anniversary celebration next year.
Did You Know?
There are over 240 examples of automotive mascots in the collection. This is Coiled Serpent, from 1930 by Desmo, a well-known British motor accessory company. Although animals were common inspirations for automotive mascot designers, the serpent is somewhat unique.