MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: Great Friends and Great Cars ... The Amelia Island Concours Car Week

Posted on March 19, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Taking final bows, Best in Show Concours de Sport (L), David Sydorick’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and Concours d’Elegance winner from the Ed and Judy Schoenthaler Collection, the 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster.

Heading into a repeat event, I am always a bit anxious, wondering what on earth am I going to discover that is new to write about. This year I tried to stay calm, knowing that something would eventually hit me and make the weekend simply magical … and it did!

There is no other way for me to describe the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend than ... precious. Even after 20 years, it sparkles and is one of those events where, no matter who you are, you feel welcomed and a part of the excitement.

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE was this years Concours honoree.

1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

It was a thrill watching Andreas Mohringer from Salzburg, Austria take Best in Class, Race Cars (1960-1990), with his 1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, recently restored by Paul Russell and Company.

Last year, at 9:30 Sunday morning, I blinked my eyes and a mass of spectators ascended onto the show field. It was all over for me. I couldn’t even take pictures. This year was another story; even with over 32,000 spectators mingling among 315 show cars and motorcycles. The entire weekend seemed to stretch, giving everyone in attendance more time, more space and even more events to really get into everything auto!

When I head to Amelia, I’m Buddy Palumbo on the open road. I leave Clearwater before sunrise, driving north, top down and wind blowing in my face. For those flying into Jacksonville, it’s a very convenient airport to maneuver. My first year of lodging at Amelia was at the Day’s Inn. I graduated up from there and thanks to VRBO return annually to a fabulous villa within walking distance to the Ritz, joined by equally fabulous housemates… for less than the current Day’s Inn rate. It’s all about planning ahead!

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The ex-Marlene Dietrich, multiple best in show winner, the 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton (L) brought a final $742,500 at Bonhams.

1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Selling for a final $1,738,000 at Bonhams, I remembered this 1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster on the 2014 Amelia show field.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

With impeccable provenance, this 1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, a featured marque at this year’s Amelia Concours, brought a final $1,012,000 at the Bonhams auction.

As part of the stretchy weekend, Bonhams debuted their Amelia auction, with previews on Wednesday and the auction Thursday midday - the reason to arrive on Wednesday. I managed to work my way through a crowd gathering around Wayne Carini to speak with a woman who for some reason looked familiar. We started to chat about the Austin-Healey she was selling ... then bingo, it hit me. I had seen the episode on Chasing Classic Cars when Wayne visited her home. I felt like I knew her! The coveted 1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 Le Mans belonged to her late husband, shown in pristine preservation condition with only 37,000 miles from new. The car brought a final price of $206,800, as part of $13.95M in total sales for Bonhams.

For my own continuing education, I find auction previews an excellent opportunity to learn. As hard as it is, I keep my mouth shut and just lean in, snapping images of what’s wrong ... and what’s right ... especially of my own marque, Jaguar. At the RM auction in London last fall, I slipped and made a comment about the reflectors on a Jag. The gentleman who overheard me sparked up a conversation — he was the long-time owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which had recently sold! I was ecstatic since I had marveled over the transporter at Goodwood and also at the Mille Miglia! So sure enough at Bonhams, a gentleman asked me why I was taking so many pictures. We chatted, exchanged business cards and bingo ... my magical weekend was clicking into gear! This very low-key gentleman was none other than Formula 1 legend Howden Ganley. With strong ties to Bruce McLaren and 41 F1 Championship Grand Prix starts to his credit, I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting him. Ganley was one of the featured authors during the weekend, autographing his new autobiography, The Road to Monaco, My Life in Motor Racing.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sitting pretty, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet brought a premium sale of $2,090,000 at the Gooding auction.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A $10,862,500 picture! In front, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff sold for $2,337,500. On its pedestal in the rear, the stunning 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina brought $6,380,000 and barely in sight is the Jaguar XJR-9.

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9

Auction sales were strong this year with RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction breaking records, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. Although catalogue estimates were aggressive, hammer prices reflected the market. Gooding & Company brought in $26,967,150 in sales, bringing the weekend take for all three major auction houses to over $101M!

Enjoying another thrill, I watched friend and racing legend Davy Jones slip into the familiar seat of the TWR Castrol Jaguar XJR-9 #388. Along with fellow drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers, Jones took this winning race car to an overall first place win at the 1990, 24 hours of Daytona. With an aggressive catalogue estimate of $3-5,000,000, the hammer price on the Jaguar XJR-9 came in half the estimated range, at $1,950,000.

Along with celebrating my fifth Amelia Concours weekend came a comfort level with what’s what and where to find everything. Even though most of the off-site events can be reached by complimentary shuttles from the Ritz, having a car lets you venture into Fernandina Beach and over towards the Amelia Island Plantation to enjoy local restaurants ... Ciao Italian Bistro on Center Street and Plae at the Plantation are favorites.

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE.

A unique sanctioned Amelia Concours event, the duPont REGISTRY LIVE Aeroport Party Friday evening is a must, especially if you have never attended a hangar party. Graciously hosted by Tom and Ruth duPont, admission supports the Amelia Concours charities. Guests meander among classic and exotic cars in several airport hangars, while enjoying live music, unique entertainment and excellent food, orchestrated by Tim Webber and The Coordinator event company. It is my favorite evening of the weekend!

Youngest junior judge takes a break in the 1968 Lamborghini Miura, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

This year’s youngest junior judge takes a break in the Hagerty Children’s Award winner, the 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

The Amelia Island Cars and Coffee is definitely a family affair, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Cars & Coffee is definitely a family affair!

The beauty of this Amelia Concours weekend is the ability to see it all. Auction preview times are generous, affording time to incorporate Friday’s Porsche Drive Experience, Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, test drives, and seminars with automobilia exhibits in between. The new MotorXpo offered a nice diversion on Sunday, stretching the crowds across a second venue. I was thrilled to see Tommy Kendall moderate the Car Guys of Television Seminar on Saturday. MMR readers followed his adventures as he drove the Viper at Le Mans in 2013. I had a chance to catch up with Tommy right after Sunday’s awards. I think we will be seeing more of him on television than on the track!

The most important rule for attending motorsports events and the one I consistently break is ... read the program first ... not on the ride home. The program should be your bible, when it comes to attending the concours.

What can I say, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

What can I say?

The Cars of the Cowboys seemed to be everywhere! What on earth were they thinking? Apparently, living their television screen lives through their daily drivers!

1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A class of their own, Forgotten Fiberglass, Best in Class went to the 1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II (R) with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona receiving the 2015 Amelia Award.

This year’s concours program featured articles written by individuals I know! Just over the pond from me in Tampa, Geoff Hacker is tenaciously resurrecting history along with Forgotten Fiberglass enthusiasts. The connections he has made with people and cars are fascinating.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A winner on the show field, Bruce Meyer’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster is featured on the Hot Rod commemorative U.S Postal Service stamp, marking the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The more classic cars I see, the more I wonder what was going on in my life to have totally missed the automobiles’ contributions to history! I poured over the article written by Ken Gross about the origin of the hot rods, on the ride home. Hot rodding, as we know it, started on the West Coast in the early 1930s, most likely by mechanically minded servicemen looking for a way to combine their talents with their love of automobiles.

So what made this weekend magical? It was a weekend of admiring great cars and attending great auctions, but, most importantly, connecting with great friends! Friends all brought together, through a car connection.

There is nothing in the world like car friends!


Sandy on Assignment: London’s Concours of Elegance…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (1)

A weekend with a Prince!

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring -- Flying Star -- takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

To walk among sixty of the world’s rarest historic cars, exclusively invited to participate in London’s Concours of Elegance was magnificent. To be in the presence of a Prince while doing so was extraordinary!

I was planning a trip to Germany; right about the time RM’s London auction was to take place. Without a moment’s hesitation, I adjusted my plans for a two-day stop over in London and a chance to attend RM’s eighth annual London auction. It was a great opportunity to watch my favorite auctioneer and RM’s European Managing Director, Max Girardo. Just as exciting, was discovering a new motorsports gem… London’s Concours of Elegance.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

Now in its third year, the UK’s budding international concours, uniquely held at a different Royal Palace each year, is definitely making its mark… not only among the motorsports elite, but with the public, as well. Held the first weekend of September, this event is the ultimate motorsports English garden party.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

On Sunday, I attended the gardens of one of London’s spectacular palaces, Hampton Court, home to not only the sixty concours cars but cars from many UK car clubs and specialty car tours, as well as something unique… the “Talking Concours”, a staged area featuring interviews with greats from the car world.

The inaugural event of the Concours took place in 2012 within the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee of reign. The second Concours of Elegance was held at the Royal Palace of St. James, last year.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Although Hampton Court Palace has not been home to the British Royal Family since the 18th century, its grandeur stands out among world Royal Palaces. It is best remembered as Henry the VIII’s favorite royal residence. Nearly 200 years later, William III and Mary II embarked on a massive expansion of the Palace, which included the grounds enjoyed during this year’s Concours.

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone and Webb Coupe

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupe

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

Much like Villa d’Este, the Concours of Elegance differs from traditional concours where a ‘winning’ car is selected by a panel of judges. The Concours of Elegance organizers maintain that if a car has been invited to participate in the Concours, it is already a winner. On Saturday, each of the sixty Concours participants casts their vote for the vehicle they consider the most elegant, thus Best of Show. During an exclusive dinner Saturday evening in King Henry VIII’s Great Dining Hall at Hampton Court Palace, Concours Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented this year’s Best of Show to the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo made its concours debut in 1931 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where, accompanied by the model Josette Pozzo, it won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este trophy. It has been winning accolades and trophies ever since.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

Spectators to the Concours of Elegance, reached well over 10,000 this year. Voting for a first time award… the Public Choice winner was awarded to a rare alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, number 19 of only 29 alloy Gullwings built.

First owned by Italian gentleman racer Dottore Alberico Cacciari, this car was the only alloy-bodied 300 SL to compete in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglias, with Cacciari driving. The car appeared at Hampton Court, just as it raced in 1956, with its 452 racing numbers, and original tool kit and factory-fitted luggage.

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

So there I was, wandering among the beautiful cars and beautiful gardens in awe of the Palace when the Patron of the Concours of Elegance drove by. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent accompanied by his lovely wife, the Princess, was admiring the cars and speaking with owners and vendors throughout the day.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

So which palace is up next for this prestigious concours? With the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, the 2015 Concours of Elegance will be held at the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Moved last year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance, RM Auctions concluded its European auction calendar on Monday, with its London auction at Battersea Evolution. While pouring over one of the Jaguars during the preview just prior to the start of the auction, I started talking with a gentleman and his son. You just never know who you’ll meet at a RM auction! To my astonishment, he introduced himself as the previous owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which I had seen a year ago at the Goodwood Revival and this year at the Mille Miglia. To know me, is to know I adore transporters. I was tickled!

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting in the second row, right in front of Max was definitely the highlight of the weekend! The crowd was very international with 35 countries represented in the room. We watched as the hammer went down on the final bid of $8,119,188 for the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ and $3,266,340 for the rare 1966 Ferrari GTB Alloy, and $1,959,804 for the highly original 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. We were in awe watching the sales sore to $36,348,733 US dollars. Another whirlwind motorsports weekend was over… as the final hammer went down.