Life on the Orient Express at Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival

World War I had just ended, hard times for most everyone in Europe. WWII was within sight, and sandwiched right in between was the Great Depression. Tough times for nearly everyone here in the States and Europe. However, for Europe’s upper echelon and the ultra-rich, these decades were to become one of the most opulent and exciting the continent had ever seen. Two words capture the period perfectly: Elegance and Speed.

1939 Delahaye Type 165 Cabriolet (web photo)

Roo and I were really excited about this exhibit here at Hilton Head. The cars during this period were just extravagant works of rolling Art Deco. But they performed also. As was written in Britania.com, “Speed took on a new form of social significance. Someone who lived fast lived well…and incautiously. Moreover, speed also implied elegance.”

1938 Dubonnet Hispano Suiza (web photo)

The Elegance Class here at Hilton Head featured English cars like Rolls-Royce, Daimler, Jaguar, French cars such as Bugatti, Delahaye, Voisin, Spain’s Hispano-Suisa and Italy’s Issotta Fraschini.

The Speed Class showed “open” cars that were deigned to travel fast like Jaguar, Peugeot, Dar’l Mat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia. These sporty cars were as luxurious as their saloon counterparts.

1938 Talbot Lago T150-C-SS (web photo)

These were the automobiles owned by the same people who rode the Orient Express, the super fast, super luxurious rail line that people with means chose for long distance travel.

As mentioned, these were extravagant automobiles designed to showcase the Art Deco style of the time. Long and low, sweeping flared fenders with running boards, beautiful swooping wheel covers. These cars were built to make a statement, and they did, loud and clear. Roo and I drooled over these masterpieces of fine art.

This was the most opulent exhibit in the Motoring Festival, with doscents and car owners alike dressed in period costume as they walked back in time to the 1930’s.

Well, as if planes, trains, and automobiles weren’t enough, how about………… boats! Beautiful wood boats from the early days of power boating were also on display here.

Power boating in style 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

BEST IN SHOW

Sunday was wet. We didn’t stay long. But the show must go on as they say. So we stayed long enough to see the Best in Show award given to this beautiful 1931 Stutz.

1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria

RANDOM BITS

There was so much to see here at Hilton Head. Here are a few random pics of other great looking and interesting automobiles.

This is a great Concours event to put on your calendar. Besides the Concours itself, this is Hilton Head! You’re on a beautiful island, gorgeous beaches, golf, hiking, bicycling, history, nightlife. Who needs the Caribbean?

The Most Elegant at d’Elegance: Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival

 

Pebble Beach, California. Amelia Island, Florida. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Three of the most distinguished Concours events in the country. Pebble Beach is the creme de la creme in the world of Concours d’Elegance events. Amelia Island is a very close runner-up. And now, Hilton Head Island is making a name for itself in these, the most exclusive of collector car and motorcycle venues. It is not by accident that these three Concours events are held in resort towns where the wealthy tend to congregate and show off their two and four wheeled prize possessions to the masses.

With the weather reading sun in the sky perfect for the event, Roo and I left the Upstate South Carolina foothills and zoomed straight across our home state to the island resort of Hilton Head. The stunningly beautiful Port Royal Golf Club is the venue for Hilton Head’s Concours d’Elegance, and it does not disappoint.

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival is somewhat unique. It  is actually three events in one. First is the Aero Expo, where vintage and new aircraft and automobiles from the same era as the aero-plane, are displayed. This event is held a short shuttle ride away at the Hilton Head airport. Second, is the large Car Club Showcase, where automobile and motorcycle clubs display their vehicles on the greens and fairways of the Port Royal Golf Club. Then on the final day of the weekend, the by invitation only Concours d’Elegance takes center stage. All three events are judged and awarded ribbons, culminating with the prestigious Best In Show on Sunday.

Saturday morning, brimming with excitement and anticipation, Roo & I took the shuttle trolley to the Port Royal Golf Club. In true Southern style, we walked through the tunnel of Live Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and knew we were in for a beautifully spectacular event.

THE AERO EXPO – WINGS & WHEELS

We missed this event on our last visit. My bad. Mismanaged my time. But this time around, the Aero Expo was our first stop off.

Vintage and new aircraft mated with Concours cars of the same era. A great concept. I love small aircraft, and as a motorcyclist, I can appreciate the skill set that the pilots of these machines must have to fly safely.

It wasn’t all vintage. Honda had it’s new light jet plane here.

Here is a gallery of some of the beautiful aircraft that were on display:

Walking through the entrance gate and onto the golf course, we were treated to these beautiful vintage autos from a long bygone era, on the green.

THE CAR CLUB SHOWCASE

The car club showcase celebrates it’s fourteenth year at the Hilton Head Concours. National and local car club members enter their cars at this prestigious event, wowing us spectators and some of the judges also. Clubs here include BMW, Ford, Ferrari,Cadillac LaSalle Club, Georgia Corvair Club and many others. Included in the Car Club Showcase is the “Life on the Orient Express” exhibit, showcasing the cars of the 1920’s and 1930’s that the wealthy were driving while everyone else was grappling with the Great Depression. So here is a sampling of the clubs and their cars in the Car Club Showcase (not all clubs are represented here).

CAR CLUB SHOWCASE

We’ve never seen an M1 anywhere prior to this. As we strolled along the line of M1’s, I said to Roo “These are BMW’s? They look so ………. Italian! Those of you who are BMW connoisseurs know the story. For those of us who are not ………………….

The M1 was to be BMW’s first Supercar in 1974. As designed, BMW lacked the capacity to build the M1 in-house, so Motorsport contracted with Lamborghini (Ah! There’s the Italians!) for 2000 cars in 1976. Right after the first prototype was built, Lamborghini collapsed and BMW scrambled for a replacement outfit. Enter Ital Engineering, TIR (an Italian bodyworks firm) for the fiberglass body, and Italdesign for the initial assembly. Long story short, that is why the M1’s look like 1970’s era Lambos! And we love the design!

Who doesn’t love a Sunbeam? They’re so cute! (OK. That was Roo). These are cool little cars and have quite the following. There were so many of them here at Hilton Head, they could have staged their own show!

These cars are stunningly beautiful. Not knowing anything about them, for the longest time we thought they were French built. We have since come to learn they are distinctly American, produced in the 1940’s and ’50’s.

Two American Classic Car Clubs: Mustang and Thunderbird 

A pony and a bird. Two cars that came to symbolize and change the automotive landscape of 1950’s and ’60’s America.

Ford’s pony car claimed new notoriety once Carroll Shelby put his name on it

Ford’s Thunderbird didn’t quite live up to it’s sports car moniker, but the porthole on the hardtop became a unique symbol of the 1950’s T-Bird.

Next post: Life on the Orient Express at Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival.

 

 

Grass Roots at it’s Finest: Cars and Coffee, Greenville South Carolina

Whether it’s cars or motorcycles, we love those events that are the “run what you brung” variety. Seeing what other folks ride or drive on a daily basis, how they hopped up their machines performance or blinged out their appearance is always fun to see and gather up some new ideas for our own vehicles.

Cars & Coffee is a national gathering in various cities throughout the year that encourages the average auto and motorcycle enthusiast to show their vehicles free of charge to the public. We have our monthly Cars & Coffee in our hometown, sponsored by Michelin at their U.S. corporate headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina.

Here are some photos of a recent event we went to. Enjoy.

I’ve always had an eye for Corvettes, and this white Stingray is a beautiful example.

Need I say anything at all?

A Gallery

My neighbor’s ’49 Ford pickup, “unrestored” to original.

Vintage, modern, trucks, motorbikes, coupes, roadsters, rods, muscle ……….all these and more can be seen at these grass roots events. It’s a great way to spend some time on a Saturday morning with these machines and the people who drive them.

 

The Cars of Italy at Euro Auto Fest

Italy. Just saying the name conjures up idyllic images in my brain: my grandparents living their lives in a small village before emigrating to America, espresso cafes in the courtyards, delicious food and wine, passionate and emotional people, the Italian Grand Prix and the Mille Miglia.

Then, there are the motorcycles. Cagiva, Bimota, Aprilia, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Laverda. The scooters of Lambretta and of course, Vespa, bringing forth the image of Audrey Hepburn riding one in the classic film, Roman Holiday. As a motorcyclist, my excitement shifts into overdrive whenever I come in contact with an Italian motorbike, vintage or modern. I’m still working on procuring that Moto Guzzi for the garage.

But today it’s all about cars. Italian cars. Beautiful Italian works of art. I mentioned the passion and emotion of the Italian people, and they put that passion and emotion into all the cars and motorbikes they build.

So here we are, Roo and I, at the Euro Auto Festival in our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, about to enter the world of Italian automobiles. Italy is the featured country this year, and The Cars of Italy section of Euro Auto Fest is where these beautiful vehicles are displayed.

The Italian flag flies at the entrance to Cars of Italy

There are a number of Italian marques on display here: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Lamborghini. But by far, the one marque taking up the most real estate on the fairway, and drawing the largest crowds, was none other than Ferrari.

The prancing horse is probably the most recognized Italian automobile badge by the general population. Show it to someone off the street and chances are they will say “Oh, yeah. I know that. That’s the car Magnum P. I. drives, right?” Right you are.

That’s not bubbled paint. It was raining on and off all day.

Probably every Ferrari you see on the road will be painted red (mostly because you won’t see that many!). Most all of them here are painted red as well. However, recently, Ferrari came out with a new color for Enzo’s creation: Ferrari Blue. Up to this point, I had only seen photos of this interesting color. I didn’t quite know what to think of it being on a Ferrari, until I saw one here at Euro Auto Fest. It works! And it is gorgeous!

The Ferrari on the right is the new Portofino Roadster, in Ferrari Blue

I call this “Fishing in a Ferrari”, an upscale take on the dating scene. Who needs on-line dating?

These are cars I can honestly say I will never own. Never. Even the Portofino, Ferrari’s “entry level” car, sits north of 250,000 large. Never say never just doesn’t stand a chance here. It is said, to own a Ferrari is a privilege. That is a privilege I will never have. Sigh. I am content to looking at these automobiles for what they are; beautiful works of Italian art. Let’s look at the gallery:

Next up on our list of Italian marvels is Fiat. Fiat had some wonderfully styled cars back in the day. I never owned one, but a high school buddy had the original 124 Spider two seat roadster. We had so much fun in that car, and it drove pretty well….when it ran. Back then, Fiat was plagued with reliability issues, so much so that the company name became an acronym for the phrase Fix IAgain Tony. But hey, it was the ’70’s. I don’t think there were many reliable cars made then!

Fiat 124 Spider 1970’s style

Next to the Spyder sat another throwback in the Fiat time machine, the Fiat X19. Wow! This thing makes my MX-5 look absolutely HUGE! The X19 looks like it sports 10 inch wheels! But this car had and still does have a cult following. Cute though.

Fiat X19 featuring the ever-leaking Targa top and teeny tiny wheels

Today, Fiat is back in the car business and making inroads to the U.S. market. Gaining popularity here in the States is Fiat’s answer to the crossover craze; The Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth (upgrade package).

Fiat 500 Abarth

Back to the Fiat 124 Spider. I mentioned the fun I had driving my buddy’s original version of the Fiat roadster. In 2017, Fiat partnered with Mazda to create the modern 124 Spider. OMG! This is the next Roadster I want when I give up the MX-5. I have sat in it, but have yet to take it for a test drive. Then there are the rumors floating around that Fiat will not be long for these United States. But, the car is gorgeous, is ergonomically correct for me, is a bit larger than the comparable MX-5, and, with affordable performance upgrades, can be made much more powerful. We will see…..

Forty-five years later: The new Fiat 124 Spider

Alfa Romeo is an Italian marque one doesn’t see or hear much about here in the States. Alfa has made some beautiful classic autos in the past, and like Fiat, is trying to make itself known in the U.S. with it’s cross-over Stelvio and Guilia sedan models.

Alfa Romeo’s classic Spyder two seat roadster. Every now and then I will see one on the roads.

Alfa Romeos can be immediately recognized by their triangle grills; some small, some large, but always present on both their classic and modern autos.

Lamborghini. A pure racing pedigree and Supercar icon. You’ll see more Ferrari’s on the road than you will Lamborghini’s, if you ever see one at all. Today, Lambo makes some of the most outlandish Supercars and Hypercars you will ever see.

Lamborghini’s dip into the world of Supercars was the Miura. Some say the Miura started the Supercar genre. Depends who you talk to. But, in my mind, the Miura is the most beautiful car Lamborghini has ever produced.

Lamborghini Miura

The Lamborghini Countach is an awesome vehicle, but to my aesthetic sensibilities, it is too harsh looking, much too angular. But what a very impressive automobile!

Lamborghini Countach

Maserati

I have mixed feelings about Maserati. I have zero interest in their sedans, but then, I have zero interest in sedans generally. The reason being, Maserati sedans look like every other sedan on the road today. Why would I want to spend upwards of 60 to 70 thou for a car that looks like a Buick (complete with quarter panel portholes), or a Kia? But drop Maserati’s coupe or roadster in my driveway, and I’m all in:

They are beautiful, aren’t they?

Now here’s an Italian marque I knew about, but have never seen on the roads. In fact, I believe this is the first time I have ever seen Lancia automobiles in a car show. Always overshadowed by its more popular and flashy brethren. Lancia. The largely forgotten Italian marque (at least here in the States).

The Cars of Italy was a fantastic segment of the Euro Automobile Festival. It did rain on and off all day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the enthusiast spectators and car owner participants alike. We were looking forward to this show all year, and it did not disappoint.