Hilton Head Concours grows, impresses with terrific array of vehicles and events 

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A 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet receives the Best of Show award at the Hilton Head Concours | Andy Reid photos

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival celebrated its 18th anniversary this year as one of the highest-quality concours events in the U.S.

Over the years, Hilton Head has gone from being a nice regional event to the must-attend classic car concours that it is today, ending the nation’s annual concours season on a high note.

Hilton Head is a multiday event with a mix of vintage racing in nearby Savannah, Georgia, seminars, gala parties, a major Saturday show for clubs to feature their members’ cars, and the final Sunday concours, which is the main event and the highlight of the weeklong celebration.

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Jaguar XK120s, part of a strong class of cars from Coventry | Andy Reid photos

One of the highlights of Hilton Head is the special guests who are in attendance, this year including Moray Callum, the vice president of design for Ford Motor Company; Ralph Gilles, head of design at Fiat Chrysler; Craig Metros, design director of Ford’s North American trucks and SUV’s; VERA Park, lead exterior designer at Jaguar; Jay Ward, the creative director of the “Cars” movie franchise; Irina Zavatski, the manager of Jeep Brand exterior design; and legendary Porsche racing driver Hurley Heywood.

The featured marques/models at this year’s concours were Jaguar XK sports car; cars from the collection of bestselling adventure novelist Clive Cussler and his wife, Janet; Lincoln Continental; Italian cars with American engines and an astounding Dodge Viper display and accompanying seminar marking the V10 sports car’s 25th anniversary.

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Dodge Vipers on display for 25th anniversary

The Lincoln feature included a number of important cars from the Ford luxury brand, and the Jaguar XK group included a huge number of fabulous sports cars , with a stunning alloy-bodied XK120, a C-type racer, and every other model and sub model from the original, raw-boned XK120s through to the sophisticated XK150s.

The Viper display was stunning and included the first prototype Viper among other important cars from the Vipers storied history.

That seminar included such notables as Viper’s executive engineer Roy Sjoberg, Viper chief engineer Herb Helbig and V10 powertrain chief engineer Dick Winkles. They told entertaining stories about development, marketing and competition – the total racing budget for the Viper’s Le Mans-winning racing effort was just $5 million dollars.

Clive Cussler’s 1931 V16 Cadillac

Clive Cussler’s cars were well-received, with the favorite being a 1931 Cadillac V16.

Attendance this year was strong, and showed just how far the concours and motoring festival has come in 18 years.

The Best of Show winner from about 200 vehicles on display was a magnificent 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Jepson Jr. of Savannah, Georgia.

The 19th annual Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival is scheduled for October 23 through November 1, 2020.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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