Pictorial: 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is a multi-faceted diamond, with many ancillary events combining to offer something for everyone, regardless of which genre of automobiles an individual might be interested in.
Now in its 24th year, the Amelia Island concours has evolved to become one of the most prestigious and well-known such concours events in the world. Most importantly, it never fails to surprise, with a range of innovative classes introduced each year to ensure the exhibits are always fresh and fascinating.
The heart and soul of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is founder Bill Warner. The experience and insight Warner gained during his youth as an automotive journalist, in addition to his indomitable passion for automotive heritage, has also enabled the Amelia Island Concours to become one of the most professionally-run concours events in the world.
Just as the event is inclusive of all forms of automotive endeavor, no matter how oddball and obscure, it is also inclusive of all the public and its stakeholders and strives for excellence on all fronts as an outward-facing event.
In particular, the press services that aid the media in covering the event are the most advanced of any American concours, and on a par with the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, which partners with BMW and its media team to ensure the event is always widely covered by actively aiding journalists, both attending and remote. With four major automotive auctions now in close attendance, plus the nearby concentrated money of the warm Florida climate, the Amelia Island Concours star continues to rise.
The Concours winners
The Best in Show awards this year went to a 1957 Ferrari 335 S and 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier, which took out the Concours de Sport and Concours d'Elegance, respectively. Lots more images and information can be found in the captions to our extensive image gallery.
The 2019 Amelia Island Concours honoree: Jacky Ickx
Each year at Amelia Island, an automotive great is honored, and the 2019 honoree was Belgian Jacky Ickx. Ickx was the son of an automotive journalist and racer, and was introduced to motorsport at an early age, attending the events his father covered or competed in. Sublime talent soon shone through when he began motorcycle racing and he won three European titles before moving to car racing, clocking up a series of impressive performances in endurance and sports car races, which quickly led to Formula One.
His win record across a diversity of motorsport genres is extraordinary – he finished runner-up in two world Formula 1 championships, stood on the top step of the podium in almost every major sports car race in the world, and the longer the race, the better he went.
The best illustration of Ickx's ability to obtain optimum performance from any motorized conveyance are not the many wins in purpose-built prototype classes (eight Formula One Grands Prix wins and six 24 Hours of Le Mans wins), but his victories in events that normally require hard-earned experience to become competitive, let alone win. That's Jacky with Amelia Island Concours' Bill Warner and a few of his race-winning cars above.
Ickx's win in the Paris-Dakar off-road classic is one such example, but he even won the Australian endurance classic at the treacherous Mount Panorama road circuit at his only attempt - in production-based race cars that were quite foreign to him. He also won the Can-Am Championship at his only attempt at a series on American soil.
Jacky was the ideal ambassador for the Amelia Island Concours: eloquent, yet humble, friendly and charming at every juncture, and an endless source of great stories.
Cars and guitars of the Rock Stars
One of the many innovative classes on display this year was "Cars of the Rock Stars," a class specially curated by John Oates of Hall & Oates.
Still performing with musical partner Daryl Hall five decades after they got together, Hall & Oates is the most successful duo in musical history, having surpassed both Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers by selling over 40 million records.
Pairing specific vehicles with guitars, the class consisted of Oates' personal collection and featured additional vehicles owned or closely associated with well-known musicians, from Elvis Presley to AC/DC to Janis Joplin. Oates entered his own Emory Outlaw Porsche 356 Cabriolet at Amelia – check it out in the image gallery as it is a tasty treat of the first order. Forbes did an extensive interview with Oates about his car and his long-term love of cars last year.
One of his statements in particular really resonated: "Throughout my life I have always had two major passions: driving cars and playing guitars. Both the machine and the instrument are paragons of inspired and purposeful design. Both tell their unique story historically and culturally. Both have their roots in the late 19th century, evolving and continuing to fascinate and excite through the 20th and now into the 21st centuries. I'm very proud to have the opportunity to collaborate and curate this unique collection with Chris Brewer and the Amelia Island folks."
Mercedes-Benz Gullwings – before and after
Mercedes-Benz Classic put on quite some display at the 24th Amelia Island Concours d'elegance, showing a pair of 300 SL Gullwing coupés with successive chassis numbers that have had quite different journeys since leaving the the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen as the most fashionable sports cars of the 1950s.
Chassis #43 was displayed in the "barn find" condition it was found at the end of 2018. The car was originally shipped to Miami in 1954 and was only registered for 10 years. In completely original condition, the car is believed to have been stripped of its original mid blue paint circa 1965, primed for repainting and, for some reason, forgotten.
Chassis #44 had been through a complete nut-and-bolt rejuvenation by Mercedes-Benz Classic, being restored to the exact condition of a 300 SL Coupé built in 1954.
The contrast between them was stark, and a breathtaking demonstration of the magic that can be performed by Mercedes-Benz artisans intent on maintaining the standards of their forebears.
Custom coachwork Volkswagen Bugs
One of the many well-received classes synthesized for the fascination of the public was the Custom Coachwork Volkswagen class, which acknowledge the 70th anniversary of the VW Bug's arrival in America. Just how the curators of such an event find these exhibits must be a story in itself, as the image gallery illustrates the forensic nature of their exhibit sourcing.
That's a wrought iron-bodied Wedding Bug hand-built in Mexico in the late 1960s two images above, and a Rometsch four-door taxi directly above. There were many more fascinating manifestations of the humble VW Bug on display too, each with an intriguing history.
There are many more facets to Amelia Island and the stories of dozens of cars is told in captions of the image gallery of this story.