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, “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 

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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


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.


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 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).


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 3



Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina


Day 2

Damn. We missed the aero exhibit. My bad. I read the itinerary wrong and thought the vintage aircraft exhibit was being shown both Saturday and Sunday. Not. Saturday only. But, it makes a great excuse to return here next year (like we need a viable excuse).

A beautiful Sunday morning. Over the course of yesterday afternoon and early evening, all the cars and bikes were slowly rolled off the greens and fairways of the golf course, to be replaced with a whole new armada of rolling eye candy! So here we are back at Port Royal, viewing gorgeous metallic art in the bright sunshine. Man, I could do this every day for a week!

An Elvis inspired pink Thunderbird?


This Cobra turned a lot of heads and drew quite the crowd

I could tool around town in this………………..


This car should need no introduction, but since this is an international moto blogsite, I will. This car epitomizes the romantic era of American road tripping. Get your kicks on Route 66. See the USA in a Chevrolet. Me and Roo in front, beagles lounging in back. This is a stunning example of one of the most recognizable American cars ever produced……..

1957 Chevrolet Belair                

Uh. Oh. Walking along the Motoring Midway, Roo says “It’s soooo cute and nerdy!” and takes off running to add another bucket list car to her……….list.

1961 BMW 700 Cabriolet

Want to see what the future of performance looks like? Wait no longer, it’s here now. Just be prepared to cough up big $$$.

2015 BMW i8 Hybrid (electric/gas)

0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds!


Now, this is cute too!


 266There were many sports cars of American design and production here, but the one that drew the most attention, is most associated with American Sports Car production, and elicited the most “ooohs and aaaahhs” from the crowd were these Chevrolet Corvettes.




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As we continued along the Motoring Midway, we could see in the distance a gaggle of folks around a bunch of motorcycles. Not ones to “shop ahead”, as well as not wanting to miss anything, we continued enjoying the automobiles as we made our way toward the bikes. This group of bikes were grouped as a historical timeline, with the first group dating from ?? to 1953.




This is the same marque (but not the same bike) that Robert Fulton rode ’round the world on in 1932, chronicled in his book “One Man Caravan.” A great read by the by.



How Roo helped a vintage BMW R51 win Best in Category

And so, here we are admiring this 1939 BMW R51, when the owner of this impeccably restored machine comes up next to us and asks, “you know what this bike needs?” I replied, “no sir, it sure looks perfectly restored to me.” He says, “it needs a beautiful woman to make it perfect”, and with that, he escorted my wife to the bike and had her sit on it.

Mind you now, while this was going on, and I was snapping photos, the judges were behind us waiting patiently to judge this very motorcycle. As Roo dismounted, the judges took about 60 seconds to judge the bike and awarded it Best in Category! We like to think it was the beautiful woman that put this motorbike over the top. Who’s to say it wasn’t?


Next post: Day 2 (continued): Motorcycle Class 1954 to 1973; Motorcycle Preservation Class; Ahh, the Italians…more Ferrari and Maserati; Shelby Mustangs; Judgement Day 2015 Concours d’Elegance finalists.