The Stutz Bearcat that later in the day won Best of Show honors at Hilton Head | Andy Reid photos
Long-term, the 2016 Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance likely will be remembered for two things: That organizers were able to stage the event so soon after Hurricane Michael ripped through the area and as the concours where the Packard went into the pond.
It seemed something of a miracle that the 15th annual concours on South Carolina’s island playground could take place in the aftermath of such a significant storm, a tribute to the festival, resort and others who went well above and beyond just to put everything back together.
The quality of the cars and motorcycles on display was not lacking in any way and we again saw a field of some of the finest cars in the world to enjoy in signature Low Country easygoing style.
It was easy to fall in love, whether it was the 1967 Volvo 1800S used in the television show, The Saint, or the car next to it, a life-size Lightning McQueen from Pixar’s Cars movie franchise.
Another favorite of mine was a light-gray 1954 Porsche 356, the 1954 Sports Car Club of American national racing championship-winning car that in its career had been driven by some of the most-famous drivers in the world, and now lovingly restored.
Standouts among motorcycles included a Norton Commando John Player Special replica with only 24 total miles traveled so far and a 1940 Harley-Davidson WLA that was the best-preserved WW2-era Harley that I have ever seen.
And then there was the Packard in the pond. Like many golf courses, the fairways at the Port Royal Golf Club includes berms and sand bunkers and, to challenge the golfers, ponds and other water hazards.
Ralph Marano Sr.’s stunning and recently restored 1938 Packard 1605 Super Eight convertible sedan and other cars in its class were parked on one of those berms. The Packard had just been awarded best in class honors when it started rolling backward toward and then into a lagoon, where it was submerged.
Marano told the local newspaper, The Island Packet, he was glad no one was injured and that he would try to make the best of a bad situation, just as he had years before when a car he was driving was struck by a drunken driver. Marano said he spend part of his 18-month recovery restoring his first car, a Packard.
“Cars have been my life,” Marano told the newspaper. “I’ve been good to them, and they’ve been good to me.”
Marano’s Packard, a one-of-a-kind with unique Bohman Schwartz coachwork, would have been a strong contender for best of show honors, which went to a 1914 Stutz Bearcat owned by Brian and Trish White.
Photos by Andy Reid