Keith’s Blog: Cars Hold Me Prisoner All Week Long


The 19th annual Amelia Island Concours has come and gone.

Our second shooting session for “What’s My Car Worth” is over.

Now all that is left is to gather everything up, throw it in the van and drive south to Fort Lauderdale, where on Wednesday we set up the cameras and start things all over again, except this time at the Auctions America auction.

The week was challenging, with blustery winds, rain squalls and temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s. Not exactly what I expected when I packed for Florida; I should have brought my arctic parka.

In between cloudbursts, I had a chance to drive a gearhead’s dream assortment of cars, including a 289 Cobra, 300SL Roadster, 1960 Chevrolet 283/270 dual-quad Corvette, Allard K3, alloy Jaguar XK 120, Kaiser-Darrin with a period Cadillac engine and a 5-speed, and for comic relief, a Fiat 600 (big block!) Jolly.

I also lumbered down the streets of Fernandina Beach in a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado — a car that certainly makes a visual statement, if not a performance one.

We made our predictions and tracked our successes and failures as the cars crossed the block at RM. The auction itself was an exuberant success, with sales totaling a reported $36m. Due to the demands of our shooting schedule, I never got to the Gooding sale, but I kept close tabs on the proceedings. Sales at Gooding totaled an impressive $31m.

On With the Show

I had a chance to reconnect with good friends Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker Evernham, both successful personalities in the NASCAR world, and got to share some tall tales with them. Ray’s new show on Velocity, Americarna, is worth a watch.

We talked at the BMW-hosted dinner on Friday night, where Sam Posey interviewed David Hobbs, and again at the Mercedes gala on Saturday night, where Justin Bell interviewed Jochen Mass and Rob Moran, Director of Corporate Communications for Mercedes-Benz, presented the Lee Iacocca Award to Lawrence Auriana for his contributions to the collector car world.

On Sunday, to everyone’s relief, the sun came out early. By 10 a.m. the field was bustling. By noon, it was absolutely packed.

The SCM booth was up, with Erin Olson, Chad Tyson and Marc Emerson meeting and greeting subscribers all day long.

SCM columnist Donald Osborne sang the national anthem and was a class judge for mid-’50s sports cars and selected the Kelly Services “Most Elegant Sports Car.” The class winner was a 1955 Siata 208S owned by Jim and Nancy Utaski. A 1955 Arnolt Bristol Bolide owned by Walter Scott and a 1955 Jaguar XK 140 MC owned by Kent and Melissa Hussey earned Amelia awards. The Kelly Services “Most Elegant Sports Car” award went to Kim and Stephen Bruno’s 1955 Alfa Rmeo 1900 SS Ghia Aigle.

Our own Carl Bomstead judged American Classics. The class-winner was a 1937 Packard convertible sedan owned by the St. Clair family.

I was class judge for street Maseratis, and John Lamm was my associate. Lamm is known for his spectacular images and stories that have filled Road & Track for many years.

Two of the cars, both entered by long-time SCMer Larwence Auriana, stood out from the rest. The first was a one-of-one 1931 Maserati Tipo V4 with a 4-liter, 16-cylinder engine. They fired it up for us, and I thought about the small handful people in the world privileged to have heard this engine run.

Auriana’s second car was a 1955 A6G/54 bodied by Frua — one of only four A6G/54s bodied by that shop. It was purchased in 1957 by Italian singer Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang the song “Volare” and went on to win two Grammy awards. The car had a fantastic presence.

Maserati Classics from the ’60s and ’70s

The more modern cars began with Peter Starr and Bob Tracik’s 1961 3500 GT Vignale Spider. You may recognize Starr and Tracik from their business Maine Line Exotics. They specialize in Toyota 2000GTs, they advertise regularly in SCM, and we value our relationship with them.

Ivan and Myrna Ruiz’s 1970 Ghibli Spyder was stunning. I believe the Ghibli is one of the most beautiful cars ever designed, and the combination of its sensuous appearance and its fantastic short-stroke V8 make it a car that should be on everyone’s hot list.

The most beautifully presented of the modern cars was another Ghibli, a 1967 coupe owned by Al Sedita, Jr. It was seductively sinister in black, and perfectly restored in and out.

We judged four other Maseratis: a 1962 5000 GT, one of 34 built, owned by Lammot du Pont; a 1961 Sebring prototype brought by Blake Stevenson; Chuck Loper’s 1963 3500 GTi (currently fitted with Weber 42s while he hunts for a Lucas injection unit); and a 1968 Mexico owned by Walter Eisenstark and Richard Klein.

The 1931 Maserati, in its two-tone green, won a corporate award from Maserati, as did the Ghibli Spyder. If a car wins a corporate award, it is no longer eligible for a class award but is still eligible for Best in Show.

The 1955 A6G/54 won Best in Class, and the Ghibli coupe and the Sebring prototype won Amelia awards recognizing the excellence of their presentation.

A 1958 Scarab Mk II owned by SCM columnist Miles Collier won the coveted Best in Show Concours d’Sport award on Sunday, and a 1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet entered by SCMer Robert M. Lee of Sparks, Nevada took the equally important Concours d’Elegance trophy.

I’ve been a fan of Bill Warner’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance since he founded it 19 years ago and continue to rank it as one of the best automotive events in the world. If you haven’t been, you should go. If you have gone, I know I’ll see you again next year.

Now, on to Ft. Lauderdale and that lunch of Gator Bits I’ve been hankering for all week.


Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Keith Martin


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *