Of Rain and Kings. The 2017 Amelia Island Concours.

In my visit to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance I was greeted with what could most likely be a hard to beat gathering of some of the finest automobiles gathered in one place. This wasn't my first visit to Amelia Island. However, this year's concours could best be described as a perfect storm. Quite literally. With an approaching storm for Sunday's concours the event was moved up a day to Saturday March 11th. It was a bold move that paid off for the organizers.

Also adding to the excitement of the event was a collection of some of my all-time favorite automobiles. Starting off with the exciting film car class. Cars from some of my favorite films were represented. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman's Buick Roadmaster from Rain man. The Ferrari 365 Daytona Spyder from The Gumball Rally. Steve McQueen's Rolls Royce from the Thomas Crown Affair and the Porsche 917 from LeMans! I mean what beats that? Well only what may well be the most recognized film car in the world. The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. Complete with lethal accessories. It was all there.

Then came the race cars. The race car feature of the now defunct Brumos Porsche race team was represented in force. Not one, but 13 team cars were on hand representing the first Brumos racer all the way up to the final. Also, on hand was Brumos driver and concours judge Hurley Haywood. While my heart drives me to rear engined, aircooled cars, there's still more to be had.
Then throw in the special class for the Race Cars of Japan. BRE Datsuns, Bob Sharp Datsuns, Paul Newman's Datsun 510 and Nissan 300ZX, the Mazda 787 B. I was fortunate to meet two of my racing heroes who were on hand as well. Tommy Kendal and the legendary John Morton. Pete Brock, who I’ve had the opportunity to meet several times in the past and now call a friend was also on hand as well as comedian and Japanese car vintage racer Adam Carolla brought a handful of his fleet to display, including the aforementioned ex Paul Newman 300ZX. What a line up!

Then out of left field comes the 1911 Marmon Wasp, winner of the first ever Indianapolis 500. Right in front of me. The history this car has seen in its life time just astounds me. And speaking of Indianapolis, that brings me to the honored guest of 2017, Mr Al Unser. As the honored guest, a huge gathering of his former race cars was on hand. Seeing his Johnny Lightning Indy cars of the 60s to his Pikes Peak dirt racer. His IROC Camaro, the famous yellow Pennzoil Penske-March to my favorite, the 1987 Porsche Project 2708. A very rare car to see today. But then I saw, shining like a star in the night. The Borg Warner Trophy. The prize for winning the Indy 500. There it was, sitting among all these Unser race cars. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would get to stand next this legendary award.

After shaking hands with Mr. Unser and gabbing an autograph and some pictures, I was back on the show field. There were more hidden gems to be found. Another special display showcasing the Jaguar D-type and XKSS showed me another Steve McQueen ride. His infamous Jaguar XKSS. The car that the police chief of Los Angeles offered a $100 bounty to any officer that could catch McQueen speeding in this car. Here it was, just as it was the last time the King of cool drove it.
And speaking of Kings. I also found two other royal rides of very different disciplines. The first was the 1941 Cadillac limousine known as the Duchess. This special was built by General Motors especially for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It may have been American, but it screamed British Royalty. The next was the long thought lost BMW 507 formerly owned by Elvis Presley. The car was found literally in a barn and was restored to its as delivered condition by BMW.

Another feature of the concours, typically held the day before is the Cars and Coffee event. Held on another section of the golf course, this event was also well attended with over 200 cars in attendance. Including a Jaguar XK220 and a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testarossa.

At the end of the day it came down to the winners. With the Best of Show awards going to Dano Davis's 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Lungo Spider and Terence Adderley's 1935 Duesenberg SJ 852.

I greatly enjoyed my time at the 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance and congratulate Bill Warner and his team for putting on another fantastic event. The dates for the 2018 event is scheduled for March 9-11 2018.