The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida is well-known for its imaginative and sometimes quirky special classes – Cars of the Cowboys, Beach Cars, and Orphan Concept Cars come to mind – and the lineup for March 2018 stays true to form.
Eleven special classes have been revealed by the concours for its 2018 show, most of them featuring classic era, sports cars and motorsports icons. But the organizers, led by founder and chairman Bill Warner, always have a few unexpected themes thrown into the mix.
Such as the class for Hunting Cars, for those very-rare examples of vintage cars that were customized to be used by game hunters, with specialized features for traversing difficult terrain and toting heavy firearms. The centerpiece of the class is the 1949 King Ranch Buick, designed under GM’s Harley Earl to be used for shooting expeditions on the massive Texas ranch by its owner, seven-term U.S. Congressmen Richard Mifflin Kleberg, Sr.
Another unique class is for the legendary custom cars of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, most famous today as the creator of Rat Fink. Roth was an innovative force in the California car scene of the 1950s and ’60s, whose most-famous custom was the revered Beatnik Bandit, a bubble-topped roadster with a highly original style and paint motif, and powered by a chrome-plated, supercharged V8. All car fanatics of a certain age can remember Revell’s lineup of plastic scale models that celebrated Roth’s vision.
Proving once again that electric-powered and hybrid vehicles are nothing new, the concours will present a class of Electric Car Pioneers, with a lineup of cars from the start of the 20th Century, when such forward-looking engineers as Ferdinand Porsche designed and built all-electric cars and gas/electric hybrids.
The remainder of Amelia Island’s 2018 classes hone closer to the familiar, but they still exhibit the singular focus that has made the northeastern Florida concours second in stature in the United States only to the Pebble Beach Concours in California, which takes place this year on August 20.
The other eight special classes are:
Porsche Carrera – Porsche commemorated its stunning overall finishes and class victories in the Carrera Panamericana with 356 and 550 race cars by naming its top-performing offerings Carrera. This class will showcase three decades of Porsche Carreras.
Auburn – The core of the triumvirate of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg that helped define the Jazz Age of the 1920s and ’30s, Auburn’s beauty and performance earned it a place among the Full Classics of the era. The famed Auburn Boattail Speedster is one of the most-emblematic of all American classics.
Jaguar XKE – The British sports car whose exceptional styling and motorsports performance helped launch the Jaguar brand to its greatest heights, the E-type remains among the most-admired cars of all time.
The Cars of Martini Racing – Since the 1960s, Martini’s legendary red-blue-and-black stripes have adorned world-champion racing and rally cars, as well as racing boats. This class will present some of the greatest of Martini Racing’s competition machines.
Ferrari Daytona 50th Anniversary – The last of the pure Enzo-era Ferraris, the imposing front-mounted V12-engine GT coupes and convertibles mark a half century since they were rolled out before an awed motoring public.
N.A.R.T at 70 – The North American Racing Team was founded by the legendary Luigi Chinetti, the driving force behind Ferrari in North America. A three-time Le Mans winner, Chinetti also was an important factor in the creation of Ferrari’s Grand Touring cars. The New York-based team gave Ferrari its ninth and final overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965.
IMSA GTP – 1981-1993 – A quarter century has passed since the IMSA GTPs – Grand Touring Prototypes – were last raced. By the end of the GTP era, they had eclipsed the lofty records set by the unlimited Can-Am cars, and not only set speed and distance records, but redefined automotive performance, forged technological progress and brought a fresh generation of fans to motorsports.
Prewar MGs – The sports car that America loved first, as a generation of GIs returning from WWII started up the postwar roadster boom, MG also enjoyed a strong tradition of sporting tradition prior to the war. The class of agile sports cars that originated at Morris Garages will show some rarely seen models that trace the history of the fabled brand.
The 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance takes place March 11, bringing more than 250 rare vintage vehicles to the The Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton Resort. For information, visit the concours website.