Dispatch from Amelia Island
by Rob Alen
The 2020 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance was the last major car event in 2020 before the United States locked down because of the Covid pandemic. The 2021 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance was the first major car event in 2021 as the US was starting to open up. Postponed from March to May, Amelia Island delivered its usual encyclopedia of automobiles, from the early days to the contemporary featuring a corporate display from electric car hopeful, Lucid.
It can be hard to distinguish one Amelia Island year from another; the drill is Friday's Tour d'Elegance of Ferdindina Beach, Saturday morning's "Cars and Coffee," where the local enthusiasts line their cars on the Amelia Island Golf club fairways. It is fun to see the pride owners have for their cars. Saturday afternoon is punctuated with R.M. Sotheby's auctioneer gaveling cars like a Duesenberg Model J by Murphy for $5 million. Sunday, consider it "Cars and Champagne" as star guest cars are on display. It isn't just one, but a gaggle of them. That is the draw of Amelia, a lot of prized cars within a species.
For example, the Porsche 935 was recognized this year. In production from 1976 to 1981, but raced into the mid-80s, and even today can be seen at vintage races. An ingenious reading of the regulations allowed for body cowlings to disguise a "production" 911; producing the famous slant nose and Pterodactyl-like rear wing for better aerodynamics. In addition to Porsche's factory team, they sold customer cars and parts. 935s filled the grids of races; of 370 races entered, 935s won 123. Amelia delivered the best: the 1979 24-Hour of Le Mans winner, a pair of Peter Gregg's Brumos Porsches from the 70s, and others. Speaking of Brumos, the Brumos Collection has opened in Jacksonville. It features Porsches and historical cars from Alfa Romeo and early Miller Indy cars. It is thoughtfully laid out and a must visit if you are in the area.
The cars to cause nostalgic dreaming were a crop of mid-60s Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinettas. Designed by Pininfarina, it came after the feline GTO, more brutish; even Pininfarina said it was "shape of the wind,""heart of a beast." Each one was a little different, and some owners know every fold and marvel at the car they own. Part of the show is observing these owners, who know one another as members of a very exclusive club.
If you have never been to Amelia Island, traffic and parking prices can irritate, but once you are on the property there is plenty to amuse; special is conversing with other guests. Hotels near the airport soften the budget but it is a 40-minute drive. Or you can splurge at base hotel Ritz-Carlton or the Omni down the road. Reserve early. 2022 is March 4-6. www.ameliaconcours.org