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.

 

 

Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance Part 2

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Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Day 1 (continued)

The Motoring Midway is the centerpiece of the Concours. But sprinkled around the rest of the golf course are special exhibits that highlight certain vehicles or periods of time. One of those exhibits is titled “Life in the Suburbs” sponsored by GMC. Life in the Suburbs portrays the vehicles you would have seen had you been living in suburban America between the late 1940’s and mid to late 1960’s.

Special Exhibit: Life in the Suburbs

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Recognize your first bike anywhere?

Did this ice cream scooter come through your neighborhood?

Very 1950’s

Moving on to the 1960’s love generation, a very cool custom VW Bus

Vespa’s were very popular in the 1950’s & 60’s. Put a couple of beagles in that sidecar and you got yourself a babe magnet!

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Let’s pay tribute to the po-po. Anybody see where Barney went?

Don’t forget the moto-cops

Everybody loves a Woody. This is a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe.

We had one more special exhibit we wanted to see before days end, which was on the other side of the Motoring Midway. To get there, we had to force ourselves to endure the astounding beauty, sexiness, and real power of one of Italy’s premier car makers: Ferrari.

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Roo takes meticulous notes on the cars she wants to purchase. I’m getting worried……

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But she’d sure look cute in it!

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The Italians know how to do it right………..

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Unique to this Concours was a maritime exhibit showcasing beautiful wood boats from the 1930’s. These beautiful water craft exuded wealth, opulence, and excess. If you had one of these in the 1930’s during the Great Depression, running about on the lake while eating lunch and drinking champagne, you were one wealthy individual.

Special Exhibit: On The Water

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Photos can’t do justice to the grace and beauty that these wooden craft exemplify. Plying the lakes and rivers during the summer months, these boats must have been a sight to behold.

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A few years ago, Harley Davidson had a fantastic print ad campaign that showed a suburban gentleman mowing his lawn while a biker on a Harley rode past him. The man mowing his lawn is thinking, “Someday I’m going to get a motorcycle.” Harley’s tag line was: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. See? No Someday. What are you waiting for?”

Brilliant, and can be applied to many things. Well, apparently, this yachtsman may also be a biker because he found his Someday:

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It was getting late in the day, and the Concours shuts down at 4 PM to prepare for the next days event. Walking back to the Port Royal Clubhouse, we stop to ogle this beautiful example of America’s sports car:

Just about ready to leave, Roo runs ahead to another auto that caught her eye, and, of course, starts taking notes and photos. I’m getting more worried as the day goes on:

I always thought the old Volvo’s were pretty cool. This one is a 1972 Volvo 1800 ES, and , I have to admit, it is very “Roo.” She thinks so too.

By now they are “shooing” people to the exits. Tonight, they roll these cars and motorbikes off the greens and fairways, to be replaced with a whole new set of vehicles! Can’t wait for the morning! For now, we head to the beach for a walk as we watch the sun set.

Next post: Day 2: Special exhibits; beautiful vintage bikes; Roo helps a vintage BMW motorcycle win Best in Category; Classic exotics.

 

Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance Part 1

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Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For years, we have been wanting to attend this prestigious event, but there always seemed to be a scheduling conflict. We finally came to the realization that scheduling conflicts are nothing more than priorities. This year we made this event the priority.

For those unfamiliar with a Concours d’Elegance, these are events that showcase collectible automobiles, motorcycles, and in the case of this Concours, boats and airplanes as well. All this means is there is a ton of money in heavy metal gracing the fairways and greens of this exclusive venue. We were mixing it up with the rich and infamous at the swank Port Royal Golf Club on Hilton Head Island!

Port Royal Clubhouse

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 You may ask why a car show is being posted on a motorcycle travel blog. Well, first, this ain’t no run-of-the-mill car show. This is the creme de la creme event of selling, buying and ogling collectible and rare automobiles, many worth six figures! Second, there are motorcycles here as well. Collectible motorcycles. Again, BIG BUCKS!

Third, and the reason we are here. As much as we are motorcycle enthusiasts, we are also automobile enthusiasts. We love classic and vintage American and European cars. And the exotics, oh my god, the exotics!

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I come by my love of automobiles honestly and early in life, having grown up in the automotive parts industry. I was of legal and driving age at the tail end of the muscle car era, surrounded by Oldsmobile 4-4-2’s, Pontiac GTO’s, Dodge Chargers, Chevy Camaro’s and Corvettes, hopped up with Holley 4 barrel carb’s, Hurst shifters, turbocharger’s….. all ready for the Saturday night street drag.

The list of cars I have owned is made up of 90% sports cars, my preferred mode of four wheel conveyance: 1968 Mercury Cougar (302 V8), 1974 Triumph Spitfire, 1972 Opel GT (the poor man’s Vette), 1985 Pontiac Fiero (4 cyl.), 1986 Pontiac Fiero (6 cyl. turbo), to my current ride, a 2002 Saturn SC-2 (four very powerful hamsters).

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I took hundreds of pictures here. Fear not, all car photos will not be posted, but the motorcycle photos will be posted in their entirety. Even if cars aren’t your thing, one cannot deny the artistic beauty that these automobiles exemplify, just like motorcycles. Scroll down if you just want to look at the bikes, as I will have them listed under their own heading, as well as mixed in with the autos.

Day 1

Most, if not all, of Concours d’Elegance events are held at posh golf and country clubs in select cities: Pebble Beach Golf Club, Pebble Beach, California; Amelia Island Omni Resort, Amelia Island, Florida; World Golf Resort, St. Augustine, Florida; and here, Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Upscale  by any definition, and the crowd reflects this.

The Motoring Midway

The greens and fairways were filled with over 300 astounding works of automotive extravagance and the people who admire, lust after,  and collect them.

The bar and drink menu. I’ll have a Mustang Mary please……….

Take a break from the cars and play some chess, or just lounge on the provided sofas………

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 Ah, but you are waiting to see some cars, yes? Here is our first interlude of the day with beautiful autos on the 18th green, but first, heed this warning…….

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Now, feast your eyes (but keep one eye searching for reptiles!)

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 The Motoring Midway encompasses the fairways and greens of the golf course. Cars and bikes are set up on the midway and presented by marque, production years, and categories. This is a judged event, a competition taken very seriously by the owners of these automobiles and motorbikes. We were able to follow the judges, outfitted in their traditional khaki slacks, collared shirts with tie, blue blazers and straw hats, as they meticulously scrutinized each car and motorcycle. So, enough words. Let’s look at some cars and motorcycles!

Austin Healey

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Walking down the Motoring Midway, we came on to my favorite “genre” of automobile: The Sportscar. This part of the Midway was devoted to Car Clubs. Specific models of sports cars would come later.

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This Triumph is gorgeous!

Always wanted a Triumph TR6, the quintessential British sports car for the masses, sporting the must have British Racing Green paint scheme. 

 The Ferrari Club was here as well. Ferrari also has their own exhibit on the Motoring Midway

A beautiful Aston Martin………….

and Roo thinking how much payments might be………

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The weather was delightful, sunny, temps in the high 70’s, the sunlight bouncing off these immaculate machines and sometimes blinding us. Continuing on down the Motoring Midway, we both got even more excited than we already were as we came upon the first of the motorcycle exhibits. Not just any motorcycles mind you. These were the bikes that had ridden the grueling 2015 Cannonball Run!

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For those unfamiliar with the Cannonball Run, it is an annual, arduous, cross country ride on two lane back roads, east coast to west coast. What’s so hard about that? Sounds cool! Yes, except riders must ride vintage motorcycles, and for 2016, the organizers stipulate that motorcycles must be 100 years old or older to enter. That means your moto can be no older than a 1916 model! Doesn’t sound so easy anymore, does it?

The Cannonball Run was organized to honor E.G. Baker, who in 1913, shattered the existing transcontinental record, riding from San Diego, California to New York City on a 7 h.p., three speed Indian motorcycle. The speed at which he traveled earned him the nickname “cannonball.” He is now forever remembered in motorcycling lore as Cannonball Baker.

Cannonball Baker in NYC at the end of his transcontinental record run.

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The 2015 Cannonball Run Motorcycles

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Lest we forget, these motorbikes were not very reliable back in the day, or today for that matter. The mantra back then, and even today on wonderfully paved roads, was probably “ride, breakdown, wrench, repeat.” Mechanically declined individuals like myself need not apply for the Cannonball.

Next post: Part 2, Day 1 (continued): more exquisite autos, motorcycles, and even boats!