The luxury automotive sector has long established that the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the premier showcase of collector cars spanning both niches and decades. Because of its credibility, it has become the standard to aspire to for every other automotive Concours, but few may ever meet the challenge.
“East Coast Pebble Beach” is a casual phrase often thrown around at exciting events along the Atlantic, spanning from Greenwich, to Long Island, to Florida. It’s often premature, if not wildly inaccurate, as the coverage of consistent deliverance has portrayed the 18th Fairway as the holy ground of automotive artifacts. It’s practically blasphemy to name it alongside any other domestic event, but if there’s one event – and there may really only be one – to live up to the unofficial title of East Coast Pebble Beach, it’s the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in northern Florida.
Amelia Island features many of the same draws that Pebble Beach does – world-class auctions, car shows on golf courses, a view of the ocean, all that. It even holds a pre-show rally for Concours cars, similar to Pebble’s Tour d’Elegance, one of the highlights of Monterey’s car week. But at the end of it all, if the show field doesn’t adequately deliver on the day of the Concours, it truly can’t be compared. Though for the 23rd installment of Amelia Island, that was no issue at all.
2018’s featured classes included Martini Racing, Ferrari N.A.R.T., IMSA/GTP racing cars, and an assortment of emotive motorcars from classic Lancias to Formula One cars for the road. On paper, it presented an intriguing mix, but the turnout was beyond belief. From end to end, you came across famous race champions, preserved classics, and current technological innovators – in short, there was something for everyone.
Even though the fairway of Pebble Beach features some of the most historically significant automobiles we’ve ever seen, it’s a show for connoisseurs – fanatics that salivate over the tiniest details that can represent millions of dollars of difference. Younger enthusiasts and casual visitors often can’t appreciate this specificity on the surface, and might walk right by a potential Best In Show candidate without even a second look. But Amelia Island’s unique classes featured dozens of cars that are easy to love. The Grand Touring Prototypes that dominated US race tracks in the 80’s and 90’s are outwardly wild creations that stand out in any environment outside the circuit. The Martini Racing liveries dressed both rally champions and Le Mans champions, and the light blue and red flowing stripes are instantly recognizable. Ferrari’s North American Racing Team class hosted a Best In Show qualifier and multiple noted race winners, along with the cachet of the Ferrari symbol. And for the new crowd, pop-up hypercar challenger Jim Glickenhaus unveiled his SCG 003 Stradale, just a few steps away from Mercedes’ new Project One tech monster.
It didn’t require you to have a textbook understanding of every car on the field, you could just walk the course and admire. It simply presented to you the best that each era and class had to offer and all you had to do was just enjoy it.