By David Santiago
There aren’t many car shows where an Amphicar cruises out past pre-war classics on the concours lawn, and muscle cars, imports and supercars simultaneously vie for attention on adjacent city streets. But that’s what tens of thousands of attendees have come to expect from the MIDFLORIDA Auto Show and Lake Mirror Concours, held this past weekend in Lakeland. The event, now in its 19th year, kicked off on Friday night with live music, food trucks, and a hot rod show in the heart of downtown. The Saturday event included the Lake Mirror Concours, a judged show for carefully selected automobiles built prior to 1973, while 750 collector cars were parked door to door in the streets of downtown Lakeland.
Thanks to the diversity of the offerings, the event now draws up to 40,000 people each year. The cars cover a wide range of automotive flavors. There were Shelby Mustangs, Jaguar E-Types, LaSalle Roadsters, Mini Coopers, Dino Ferraris, Willys pickups, and even a Pagani Huayra.
Richard Workman, a collector from Windermere, Florida, brought two stunning examples of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, one roadster, and one gullwing. The pair got plenty of attention on the concours lawn and were also part of an “Auto-Biography” section where the cars were brought on stage and discussed by experts who explained their history and significance.
One of the cars featured in the “Auto-Biography” presentation was the 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa, which is part of the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida. The Tipo 166 was the first Ferrari to win a major race, with the model scoring victories in both the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia road races in 1948. This specific example was the first racing Ferrari to be brought into the United States in 1949 after Briggs Cunningham purchased the car from famed racer and importer Luigi Chinetti. Briggs drove the Ferrari to its first win stateside in May 1950 at the Suffolk County Airport Race on Long Island. Chassis 016-1 was retired from competition after a tragic accident involving Sam Collier during a race at Watkins Glen later that same year. This Ferrari remains one of the most significant cars in the company’s history.
For those who were unable to attend the Lakeland show, we’ve prepared a photo gallery that represents the variety of vehicles on display and the atmosphere surrounding the event. Enjoy!
The Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa from the Revs Institute perched closer to eye level for a unique view. Photo: David Santiago
Concours participants lined up on the lawn early in the morning while the fog was thinning and the sun was still rising. Photo: David Santiago
Starting in the foreground, a Healey Silverstone, Cisitalia, and Jaguar bask in the morning sun as spectators begin to arrive and browse the machinery on display. Photo: David Santiago
A pair of iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs, owned by Richard Workman from Windermere, Florida. The 215-horsepower output may not sound impressive today, but made this the fastest production car in the world when it was released in 1954. Photo: David Santiago
The 3.0 liter straight-six found in the 300 SL was actually more powerful than the engine found in the racing car that it was based on. This was due to the mechanical direct injection system fitted to the road car, a first for a production car. Photo: David Santiago
The one-off 1966 Bosley Interstate, which attended Pebble Beach last year, was a major attraction at the lakeside concours. Built on a Corvette chassis and powered by a Pontiac Tri-Power engine, the Interstate was the brainchild of Richard Bosley, a horticulturist with no formal background in engineering. Photo: David Santiago
Famously known as a car favored by heads of state, this 1972 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Limo is one of only 60 long-wheelbase versions with 4 doors sold in the United States. The car is powered by a 6.3- liter V-8 that provides sufficient acceleration and drives the hydraulic pump, which powers everything from the windows and seats to the suspension dampers. Photo: David Santiago
Datsun’s 2000 roadster was an extremely effective racing machine in its day thanks to features like a removable windshield that was held on with just four bolts. This 1967 example features the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with factory optioned Solex carburetors giving 150 horsepower. Photo: David Santiago
This 1926 McFarlan 145 TV-6 Tourer was once owned by heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. The six-cylinder engine produced 120 horsepower and featured 3 spark plugs per cylinder, twin distributors, and dual magnetos. Photo: David Santiago
McFarlan’s mascot depicts Atlas, a greek Titan, supporting the world on his shoulders. Photo: David Santiago
The Jaguar E-Type can trace its roots back to this low-slung 1935 Swallow Sidecar SS1 Coupe. The Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company became the Jaguar we know today after changing its name at the end of World War II. Photo: David Santiago
Although concours cars like this BMW 328 enjoyed the prime lakeside location, there were plenty of cars to see along the edge of the lake and on the streets of downtown. Photo: David Santiago
A special area was designated for Ferraris. As always, the most popular color was Rosso Corsa. Photo: David Santiago
At the other end of the performance spectrum was this beautifully restored 1963 Willys Pickup. Part of the “Classic Trucks” category, this off-roader was powered by a 230-cubic-inch 6-cylinder engine and featured factory-optioned winches front and rear, offering even more go-anywhere capability. Photo: David Santiago
Also part of the “Classic Trucks” category was this completely original 1925 Ford one-ton truck. Photo: David Santiago
The famous Amphicar is perhaps the best attempt to make a car perform to an acceptable level on both land and water. From 1961 to 1965, 3,878 of these curious cars were built in West Germany. Photo: David Santiago
It was only natural that owner Eugene Francavilla took his Amphicar out for a quick cruise on Lake Mirror during the show. Photo: David Santiago
The pathways around Lake Mirror were just wide enough for cars like this LaSalle Roadster to drive on. Photo: David Santiago
Often, car shows are only geared for hardcore enthusiasts, and this leaves little reason for anyone else to attend. The MIDFLORIDA Auto Show, however, is very approachable, featuring cars of all types, from different eras, and presenting them in a way that attracts a broad audience. Photo: David Santiago
Another great part of the show was the “Auto-Biography” section, an opportunity to learn more about specific cars. Here, the Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa is escorted to the area where the talks were held. On its way there, it filled the air with a wonderful V-12 sound and the lingering smell of high octane. Photo: David Santiago
Revs volunteer Rick Shafer gave the presentation, explaining some of the history behind the early days of Ferrari and the significance of the Tipo 166. Besides learning something new, the audience got the chance to see the car running. Photo: David Santiago
The famous gullwing doors of the 300 SL were a direct result of the car’s race-inspired chassis that had very tall side sills. The engineers had to lower the sills on the roadster version to allow for the use of conventional doors and made a number of other body alterations, so much so that none of the body panels are interchangeable between the roadster and coupe. Photo: David Santiago
On the streets of downtown, there was an entirely different flavor of automotive machinery on display. Photo: David Santiago
Of course, American muscle cars were well represented. This Mustang Boss 302 was an excellent example of Ford’s Trans-Am racer built to compete against the Camaro Z/28. Photo: David Santiago
An unexpected, but welcome surprise was this Acura NSX-R GT2, which was built for Honda by Thompson Prototypes. In 1995, a sister car captured a class win at Le Mans in the GT2 category. Photo: David Santiago
A Jensen Interceptor is a rare sight in the States. The Italian design, American V8, and well trimmed interior proved to be a potent grand touring recipe in the late 1960s and early 70s. The British-built Interceptor could comfortably cruise at 120-130 mph. Photo: David Santiago
An Austin Mini Cooper S that honors it rally roots. The brilliant packaging of the transverse-mounted engine and gearbox designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and the Mini’s small dimensions made this lightweight machine perfect for European rally racing. All it needed was a more powerful engine and some tuning by John Cooper. And it thus became the Cooper S. Photo: David Santiago
If classic cars weren’t to your taste, there was plenty of modern carbon fiber on display downtown. McLarens, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and the odd Pagani. Photo: David Santiago
The Pagani Huayra, named after a Quechua wind god, represents the best of what a boutique manufacturer can do. Made almost entirely of carbon fiber and powered by a 700-horsepower AMG twin-turbo V-12, the Huayra features performance that matches its eye-catching exterior. Photo: David Santiago
Just as spectacular is the exquisitely finished interior, in which every single piece of aluminum trim started life as a single billet block. Photo: David Santiago
Down the next street was the exact opposite of European refinement: early hot rods. This 1941 Willys coupe’s supercharged 454-cubic-inch engine makes the same amount of power as the Pagani’s V-12, but does so in a more in-your-face kind of way. Photo: David Santiago
This 1932 Ford coupe illustrates how the MIDFLORIDA Auto Show and Lake Mirror Concours bridges automotive gaps and enables truly rare, historic, and significant cars to share the stage with customs, hot rods, and modern exotics. It represents all the different ways the automobile has affected our culture — and the diversity within the car culture itself. Photo: David Santiago
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