News & Stories

The Amelia Island Concours: Car Enthusiasts’ Spring Break

March 16, 2018 In the News

By John Lamm

Enthusiasts know that March has arrived when they hear three words: Amelia Island Concours. This year it brought some 300 vehicles to the fairways of the Ritz-Carlton golf course on the resort island in northeastern Florida.

And as usual, this year’s field reflected the personality of Bill Warner, the man behind the Amelia Island event, who has a long-time affection for race cars, exotic machines — and making people smile.

How else would you explain, amid the Duesenbergs and other pre-war classics, a gathering of cars built by the hot rod legend Ed “Big Daddy” Roth — the Beatnik Bandit, Mysterion and Orbitron, to name a few.

Amelia featured a collection of hot rods by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Arguably his most famous was the 1961 Beatnik Bandit. It normally can be found in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV.

Warner’s love of race cars explains the class of Martini & Rossi liveried racers. The Miles Collier Collection’s Martini 917K, still bearing the scars of battle, stood next to the Le Mans winning 917K from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Also in attendance was an amazing collection of Martini sponsored Lancia race and rally cars from the collection of John Campion.

The Martini Racing Team Porsche 917K from The Revs Institute.

The Concours also celebrated the Jaguar E-Type, including the 1962 example from the Revs Institute’s Miles Collier Collection. At the Le Mans 24 Hours that year, Briggs Cunningham and Roy Salvadori averaged 108.87 m.p.h. in this car, earning fourth place overall.

Another Miles Collier Collection car from the Revs Institute, the Briggs Cunningham/Roy Salvadori Jaguar E-Type, fourth overall at Le Mans in 1962. Presenting its award is Ian Callum, head of design for Jaguar.

And as always, there were plenty of Porsches. The Revs Institute was well represented here, too, with the 917K as well as a Carrera 904 GTS, done up in red and turned out for road-going use.

Completing the Revs team at Amelia Island was the 1935 MG PA/PB, nicknamed “Leonidis.” It won numerous American road races driven by Miles Collier, even racing at Le Mans in 1939. The aerodynamic bodywork it now has was added after a collision with a New York City taxi in 1937.

Emerson Fittipaldi, who won the Formula One championship and the Indy 500 twice, was honored. The car is the Shelby Lonestar. Carroll Shelby planned this mid-engine design as the Cobra’s successor, but complications ended the program after only one car was built.

The honored guest is often a veteran racer — this year, Emerson Fittipaldi, two-time winner of the Formula One world championship and the Indy 500.

But it wouldn’t be a proper concours without the usual esoteric classes, including a row of electric cars built between 1898 and 1923 — Teslas of a bygone era.

After 23 years, you’d think Bill Warner has found all the fun cars to show at his concours, but no doubt he’ll find still more for next March.

The 1935 MG PB/PA, a.k.a. “Leonidis,” was on hand from The Revs Institute.

One of two Porsche 904s at the Revs Institute, this one underlines the dual nature of the 904, having been both raced and used on public roads.

In 1973, this Porsche 2.8-liter RSR “R6” won the Targa Florio with Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep driving.

1. Part of Jerry Seinfeld’s major Porsche collection is this 935 with Martini & Rossi livery. The first 935, it won on its initial outing with Rolf Stommelen and Manfred Schurti in the 1976 Watkins Glen Six Hours.

It’s not difficult to figure out why this 1908 Studebaker was called a “To and Fro” Carry-All. Between 1909 and 1916, it conveyed people via a tunnel in Washington between Capitol buildings and the Senate Office Building.

The top prize in the European Custom Coachwork class went to an American car — this 1948 Cadillac Series 62 with a cabriolet body by the famed French firm Saoutchik.

Meant to evoke “the nation’s westward movement,” this 1956 Plymouth Plainsman was designed in the Plymouth studio and built by Ghia.

In 1961, Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien drove this Ferrari 250 TRI/61 to victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The designer Maurice Philippe tried large dihedral wings on this 1972 Parnelli VPJ-1 Indy car. Several variations were tried, but then abandoned.

Luigi Chinetti had the Italian design firm Michelotti create the body for this 1971 Ferrari 365GTB/4 NART Daytona Spider for his wife, Marion.

Chrysler built a series of Thunderbolt concept cars, this one from 1941. Meant to be a study in aerodynamics, the Thunderbolts had retractable hardtops, lacked normal door handles and featured enclosed rear fenders. Credit for the design goes to Alex Tremulis, who also created the Tucker.

Harley Earl and Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov created the 1956 Corvette SR-2, which has a prominent rear fin, scoops on the doors, and, eventually, a fuel-injected V-8. A total of three were built.

The Ferrari Daytona that Dan Gurney and Brock Yates used for their Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash win in 1971, driving from New York to Redondo Beach, Calif., in a day and a half.

As part of Luigi Chinetti’s NART team, this Ferrari 512M finished third at Le Mans in 1971, with Sam Posey and Tony Adamowicz driving, behind a pair of Porsche 917Ks.

This NART Ferrari 365 P2 won the 1965 Reims 12 Hours, driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Jean Guichet.

The Best in Show Concours d’Elegance Trophy was won by a Murphy-bodied 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ convertible. A 1963 Ferrari 250/275P won the Best in Show Concours de Sport Trophy.

Known as El Kineño, this 1949 Buick was created by GM for the King Ranch in Texas. Among its features are a shooter’s seat, a game holder and, of course, a bar.

John and Suzanne Campion brought six Lancia race and rally cars for the Martini & Rossi class. This 1988 Lancia Integrale won that category.

Forsaking Pininfarina for Michelotti, Luigi Chinetti had this Ferrari 365 GTB/4 rebodied to race on his NART team as the “Targa.” It was shown at the 1975 Geneva Auto Show and had little success on the track.

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John Lamm started his automotive journalism career in 1965 as a racing photographer for Autoweek magazine. After a tour in Vietnam, he joined Motor Trend in 1969, then Road & Track in 1975, where he worked for 37 years. He has also written for Car and Driver and Automobile magazines. Credits include 10 books and Lamm has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor awards for writing. Lamm’s photo archives include hundreds of thousands of images ranging from an 1893 Benz Victoria to many of the latest automobiles. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades. Lamm lives in San Clemente, California with his wife, Scheri.

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