The 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend offered a variety of events, 3 collector car auctions, a cars and coffee, the Porsche Werks Reunion and, lower down the totem pole, a Concours d’ Lemons.
Think of Lemons as the coronavirus of the classic car show circuit. Its concours is a celebration of the Oddball, Mundane, and Truly Awful of the Automotive World.
Categories include Der Selfsatisfiedkrautenwagen, Needlessly Complex Italian, Swedish Meatball, Rust Bent American Junk, and the Royal Order of the MOT Failure, among others. At this point you should get the idea that this is not a car for high-end classics but is possibly the most fun you can have for your money. If you keep in mind that the event is free, the value increases.
Lemons made its debut at Amelia Island in 2019. This year more than 30 cars were entered. That might seem a sound number, but the event area could not have held more cars.
I had the opportunity (I foolishly volunteered) to judge at this esteemed event and drew the Der Selfsatisfiedkrautenwagen class. This was one of the bigger classes, with each car a bit worse than the one before. My class winner, or loser, remember, this is the bizarro world of cars, was a 1973 VW Beetle that was so rusty it had rebar wended to the body to reinforce it.
I have no idea if the owner actually made it home. Since the only rule at Concours d’ Lemons is that after the show you must take your car away and not leave it there, I am assuming he got home, somehow.
Another astounding car at Lemons was the Geo Metro pickup conversion. The car was not amazing and was a typical home-made pickup crafted from a car that already was bad new. What was more astounding is that the owner is looking to buy more Geo Metro cars. We offered to help him pay for a therapist.
The best condition car was the all-original 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis coupe, a car that a quartet veteran automotive journalists never knew existed. The car was a 60,000-mile survivor in immaculate condition that was driven 800 miles to get to the concours.
Though many of the cars on display at a Lemons event are disasters, we do see some that are, truly, rare, yet still awful cars. Case in point was Worst in Show — the top honor at a Concours d’Lemons.
This was already a terrible car as it was a Cadillac Cimarron, a example of the worst kind of badge engineering and car on many peoples lists as one of the worst cars GM ever sold.
However, this one was amazing as it was one of only 4 built with a manual gearbox. When we awarded the owner his trophy, he told us he bought the car for $500 and immediately had to spend $1,500 to make it roadworthy.
Basically, he won at Lemons for the cost of the wax applied to any of the cars o the Concours d’Elegance lawn the following day.