Keith’s Blog: 500 Classics Come to Hilton Head

This was my fourth year at the Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance, at Hilton Head, SC.  Each year, it continues to develop and grow in size and quality.

Hilton Head now resides comfortably in the top tier of vintage car events.

It’s more than just a car show. The official name of the weeklong happening is the Hilton Head International Motoring Festival. It encompasses vintage racing, tours, a hangar party, and two car shows on the weekend: the Car Club Showcase and the concours itself.

The crown jewel of the 16th Annual Hilton Head Island International Motoring Festival was the Concours d’Elegance, held on Sunday.

Nearly 200 cars were on display. The featured marque was Cadillac. Along with noted local collector Harvey Geiger and former GM Head of Design Kip Wasenko, I judged cars from 1963-73. Best in Class was a spectacular ice blue 1964 Cadillac Eldorado owned by the Butler family. A Palmetto award went to an elegant and understated 1963 Park Avenue DeVille brought by Jim and Lynn Verraster of Katonah, NY.

There are three top awards at the Concours. The first is People’s Choice, which was awarded this year to a 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Good Humor Ice Cream truck owned by Barry and Deborah Fodor of Ashland City, TN. The Paul Doerring Founder’s Award went to a spectacular 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder from the Rare Wheels Collection in Windermere, FL.

Best of Show was an imposing — but very sleek — 1934 Cadillac Convertible Coupe V16 owned by Steven Plunkett of London, ON, Canada. It has a 154-inch wheelbase and was the longest car ever produced up to 1934.

When the owners asked Ed Welburn, former Head of GM Global Design if he would like to drive the car, he responded, “I would be honored just to take a cloth and wipe it down, and feel all the great curves this car has.”

A telling sign of the growth and sophistication of the event is the number of new-car manufacturing events. On Saturday night you could her people asking one another “which party are you going to?” BMW, Porsche, Autoweek and others held wonderful gatherings to celebrate their brands.

I was the emcee of the Saturday Car Club Showcase. I also presented a seminar on collecting and gave a brief talk to the judges during the Saturday night dinner.

The seminar, “Conversations with Collectors, With a Nod Towards the Market,” was presented to a standing-room only crowd in the Club House at the Port Royal Clubhouse, where the concours was held.

The panelists were Miles Collier, Ken Gross, Jeff Lane (Lane Motor Museum) and Ramsey Potts of RM Sotheby’s.

I have taken a different tack with my seminars this year. Rather than a granular examination of the market, transaction by transaction, I have instead engaged various collectors about their own histories with sports cars.

I believe that understanding the motivations of collectors is another way to develop a perspective on the market. I asked each collector to talk about how they got started in cars, what their favorite and least favorite cars were, and if they had to pick one car for touring and one car for showing what they would be.

Click here to see what their choices were.

Saturday was Car Club Showcase Day, which provided an opportunity for the car clubs in the area to present their very finest examples.

The quality of cars on Saturday has grown every year; the field now rivals that of some concours I have attended.

My favorite car and Best of Show winner was the beautiful 1965 Aston Martin DB5 brought by Carl Clark from Myrtle Beach, SC. Clark had owned the car since the 1980. He vintage raced it and used it as a daily driver before deciding to have it restored.

I can’t recommend the concours and the entire week’s work of activities highly enough. The event takes up three fairways on the Port Royal Golf Course, and the host hotel, the Westin, is situated right on the attractive white-sand beach.

The entire event has a feel of welcoming southern hospitality about it.

It a terrific setting, with great cars and even nicer people. It’s a winning combination.

Next year’s concours and Car Club Showcase will take place November 2-4 at the Port Royal Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC.

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.

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