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.

 

 

Bikes on the Back 9

I have always enjoyed going to motorcycle shows that take place at a golf venue. The atmosphere is different, evoking a sense of elegance, upscale and affluence, real or imagined. Like the Quail Gathering on the West coast, or the Riding Into History event in St. Augustine, FL. Even the bikes seem to have an extra layer of shine and finish to them, as if to say “we deserve to be here.”

My hometown of Greenville, South Carolina is host to such an event. The Euro Auto Festival is held each October at the Preserve at Verdae Golf Club, a beautifully wooded golf venue. As the name implies, it is an event showcasing over one hundred beautiful European automobiles on the golf course (more in a later post), with a large contingent of motorcycles.

Euro is the name of the game here. All European motorcycles on the green from modern sport bikes (Ducati/Triumph), to a vintage scooter (Moto Guzzi), and the usual ’60’s and ’70’s Triumphs and BSA’s in between. A great showing of beauty on two wheels. Enjoy the show.

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A Vintage Bikes & Brunch in North Carolina

I don’t know who came up with it first, the car guys or the biker dudes. All I know is we heard of the car guys Cars & Coffee gatherings first, then, just recently, we came across the bikers Bikes & Breakfast get togethers. We don’t have any Bikes & Breakfast gatherings locally, so Roo and I decided to come up with our own private version in conjunction with this years Meltdown Vintage Motorcycle Show. We have dubbed it Bikes & Brunch.

We anticipate this show all year long. It’s such a grass roots, low key, run what ya brung, family oriented affair that makes you so happy to be there, not just for the bikes, but for the atmosphere as well. Young, middle aged, old timers, dogs, kids, riders, non-riders, they’re all here and loving it! And, of course, the most beautiful vintage motorcycles on display. This is no trailer queen Concours event. As mentioned earlier, these are run what ya brung machines.

The Meltdown starts at noon, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Roo and I left home with enough time to have our Brunch, arriving at Pop’s Diner in Hendersonville around 11:00 AM. Vintage bikes were everywhere, making their way to the Meltdown venue at Appalachian Brewery, just two blocks away. It was awesome seeing and hearing these beautiful and historic machines on the road.

Yes, we drove our four wheeled sport bike (we had our reason).

After parking the Miata, we strolled down Vintage Motorcycle Alley, three blocks of nothing but vintage bikes lining both sides of the street and overflowing into the parking lots. Heaven! Enjoy the pictorial!

An enthusiastic crowd admires moto history

 

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We all know how much dogs enjoy motorcycles.

This just looks stinkin’ fast……

Leave it to Ford to bring a car (and a possum) to a bike show

Bring on the badges

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What a great vintage show. Even looking at the modern bikes that people rode in was fantastic. A live oldies band (complete with band members pompadour’s) was playing in the courtyard of Appalachian Brewery, along with food trucks serving up all kinds of delicious munchies. No sooner did we leave, we were already anticipating next years show! If you are in the Western North Carolina area the third weekend in April, check it out. If you love vintage moto’s, you won’t be disappointed.

These Guys Have Brass Ones!

THE WALL OF DEATH

I have read about it. I have seen photos of it. I have seen you tube videos of it. But I have never seen it live. Until now. Inside this rickety, wooden structure, men on vintage motorcycles flip the bird to bodily injury and death as they race their motorbikes on vertical wooden planks, inches from the crowd of spectators.

PRE-EVENT WARMUPS

The Wall of Death has been around at motorcycle rallies since the early 20th century. Not much has changed: man, motorcycle, speed, wood and centrifugal force. Get one of the components wrong and you’re toast.

The spectators climb the stairs into the “dome” and circle the outer perimeter of the wall. I was right up against the wall, right where the motorcycles would be inches from my face.

Looking down at the moto gladiators and their machines

The bottom row of planks are banked in order to get the motorbike up onto the vertical planks. When the bike has attained sufficient speed and centrifugal force takes over, the rider nudges the bike onto the vertical planks!

Wally, a native South Carolinian, is the oldest Wall of Death participant in the U.S. at 68 years old!

 How about two at a time? Like a bicycle pursuit race, they start at opposite ends of the “wall” and pass each other! Sick, huh?

Even a go cart has a go at it. Up the banking ……..

……… and onto the wall!

The whole structure rocked back and forth as the vehicles circled the wall. It was kind of unnerving, but exciting as well.

What a great experience, up close and personal. The bikes and riders were literally inches from us as they climbed to the very top of the wall! If you ever get the chance to see this, do it. It’s nothing short of fantastic!

 

It’s Been a Vintage Kind of Year!

It has indeed! We started our vintage bike rally “groupie” travels in April, with a run up to Hendersonville, North Carolina, for the Motorcycle Meltdown Vintage & Cafe Racer bike show. This is our favorite, down home, grass-roots vintage show. Next, we headed to the Sunshine State in May, to the World Golf Village and the most excellent 2017 Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in Saint Augustine, Florida. Finally, just last month, we wound up in the small, rural South Carolina town of Chesnee for the Antique Bikes on Main Vintage Show and Wall of Death!

There were lots of restored and unrestored bikes on display. There seems to be a small movement in both bike and car restoration towards leaving vehicles in their original condition, or “as is”, doing just enough work to get them in running and driveable condition. Seeing some of these bikes in worn condition was pretty fascinating.

A few photos from Main St.

Even a separate section for vintage race bikes!

This is a nice, small town, vintage show that just a few years ago was a show out for one percenter groups (or wannabes). Now, riders and non-riders, cruisers to sport bikes to scooters, kids and dogs, all come to enjoy old bikes, food, vendors, and amusement rides. A nice family show that is close to home.

Next Post: The Wall of Death!