Amelia Island 2019
I have just returned from the Amelia Island Concours, having thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was my first time at this famous Florida gathering, which has now been going 24 years.
One of the good things about this concours is that it is all contained within an easily walkable distance. The core is the Ritz-Carlton hotel – which is a confusingly enormous ‘spider’ of a hotel, with legs running in every direction! All the activity is centred here during the Thursday/Friday build-up and it then shares the action over the weekend with the adjoining golf course.
My main reasons for going were to see some fabulous cars and to meet people. I did both in abundance. I don't think I've ever been introduced to so many people in my life! What staggered me is that they all seemed to have a copy of my tome – one of the first of my 30 plus books, Jaguar E-type – The Definitive History!
I packed so much into the four days – including visits to Bonhams, Gooding’s and RM Sotheby's auctions – that it is all a bit of a blur now. We had a very successful book signing at Hortons with Derek Bell. Derek introduced me to the eminent car designer Peter Stevens and we had a fascinating chat. Derek's son Justin (whom I last met many years ago, when he drove me at 175mph around the high-speed bowl at Millbrook in a Dodge Viper with the hood down) did a brilliant job of compèring at the Saturday morning seminar with guest of honour Jackie Ickx, plus Brian Redman, David Hobbs, Jochen Mass, Derek, Hurley Haywood & Co., and at the Gala Dinner with Ickx. After dinner, David Hobbs and I went and had a couple of drinks, and a splendid chat about the old days.
Above:Seminar with guest of honour Jackie Ickx, plus Brian Redman, David Hobbs, Jochen Mass, Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood & Co
Above: Jackie Ickx with Philip Porter
Being mainly based in the hotel on the Saturday morning, I didn't see much of the action outside, when anyone and everyone who owns a suitable car turns up for the Coffee & Classics gathering. Sunday was spectacular and I did a considerable mileage (on foot – my watch was impressed!) going round and round the displays of extraordinary cars. Not all were to my taste, but the breadth of types of machine was amazing.
Above: Jackie Ickx display of cars
Particular favourites that stood out were the Keller Carraciola Mercedes-Benz 710 SS, the double Le Mans winning GT40 (on which we have done a Great Cars book), the Le Mans Ferrari 250 GT SWB (belonging to Bruce Meyer and on which we are completing a book in our Exceptional Cars series), the nine Porsche 962s, the 10 XK 120s (including a fascinating one created by Barris and a lovely original unrestored car that we featured in my book Original Jaguar XK) and so on. Another highlight, for me, was the fashion parade by decade of an appropriate motor car and suitably-attired lady in original period costume. So stylish!
Above: Le Mans Ferrari 250 GT SWB
The overall winners were a worthy choice indeed: the fabulous 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier and the stunning 1957 Ferrari 335 S that competed at Sebring, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and the 'Ring. It was driven by a positive Who's Who of top drivers of the period.
A quiet dinner with my 'new best friends', Andy Reid and Dirk de Jager, who had done such a great job of showing me the ropes and introducing me to hundreds of people (or so it seemed), rounded off a brilliant few days in the Florida sunshine.