Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2015.
Racing car driven by Stirling Moss.
He has experienced many things in his life, both highs and lows. He was one of the top racing drivers of the 20th century, always drove at the limit, only just survived an accident and had to overcome many setbacks. The charming gentleman in racing overalls is a true darling of the public. But even for Sir Stirling Moss, who has received many honours and awards in his lifetime, this is a very special gift. He feels the cool metal of his silver racing car bearing the number 722 and says something so quietly that it is barely audible: “I’m touched.” Because Stirling Moss, now 85 years old, is standing before the dream vehicles from his motor-racing career. They are now highly coveted collectors’ items scattered all over the world.
But for this weekend, their owners have brought them all together to celebrate his achievements: As a memento, Stirling Moss has his photograph taken in front of 24 of his cars.
Under a good star.
Right at the front are three cars bearing the Mercedes star: a memory of 1955, the most successful year of all for Stirling Moss. One of the cars that has travelled to Florida is a W 196 R Monoposto from the Fellbach Classic Center, which was used in Formula 1. Another is a W 196 R Streamliner from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.
The most important car is a W 196 S with chassis number 4, sporting the number 722 on its bonnet. “That was my starting number in the Mille Miglia,” explains Stirling Moss. “It was in this car – the world’s best racing car – that I won the race and set the course record. It was the most important day of my career.”
Proceeds for charity.
Every year in March, classic-car enthusiasts from all over the world gather together at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Amelia Island and on the fairways of the golf club. Stirling Moss was the guest of honour at the first Concours d’Elegance event in 1996. Two decades on, he has returned in the very same role. The Concours in Florida is now a “must go” for car buyers, experts and those enthusiasts who want to see, smell and – with the permission of the owners – also gently touch the historic vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz has supported the event right from the start: more than 2.5 million dollars of the proceeds have now been donated to aid organisations in the region.
Collectors from all over the world.
Over a long weekend, everything at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance revolves around classic cars. The standard of the cars often matches the standard of those at the far more well-known Pebble Beach event. That’s why there are international collectors alongside their American counterparts among the 20,000 or so visitors. On Saturday the classic car clubs present themselves with their vehicles, while the actual Concours d’Elegance takes place on Sunday.
American-Italian award winners.
317 cars and motorcycles are appearing here this year. The jury members, including German racing driver Jochen Mass, choose a Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster built in 1930 as “Best of Show” and an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato Spider from 1932 as “Best of Show Concours de Sport”.
Prizes for Mercedes-Benz classics.
Several Mercedes-Benz classics also scoop prizes. The category for horseless carriages with more than 40 hp is won by a Mercedes 37/95 hp from the publicly accessible Nethercrutt Collection in Sylmar, California. The luxury car produced in 1913 and fitted with a Henri Labourdette body is on display in four-seater Torpedo guise. The Historic Vehicle Association awards a “This Car Matters” prize to an early 300 SL gull-wing model built in 1954 – the first time that a European car has won this award according to organiser Bill Warner.
Feast for the eyes from Arturo Keller.
The “Mercedes-Benz Star of Excellence Award” for the most elegant Mercedes-Benz car went to Arturo and Deborah Keller. From California they brought along a 680 S model built in 1928 with Armbruster body, on which every detail is just right and matches perfectly, from the crocodile leather seats to the use of chrome trim on the body.
The Kellers have owned this feast for the eyes since 1981, but they only very rarely exhibit the car, for instance in 2008 at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach – and now on Amelia Island.
Automotive legends – close enough to touch.
You can see this with your own eyes at the Mercedes-Benz stand, where the top models from three key technology eras are exhibited. The Silver Arrow (W 154) from 1939, which was last raced at the Yugoslavian Grand Prix, only has half of its front section mounted as its owner, a classic-car collector from Florida, wanted to give viewers an insight into the racing car’s technology. Another model from a private collection is the 300 SL with chassis number 3 – one of the first two gull-wing models to be delivered to the USA in 1955.
Next to it in red fire opal shines the new Mercedes-AMG GT S: its lines and its inner values – an output of 510 hp and acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.8 seconds – make the car one of the show’s highlights.
Records at auctions.
The auction houses present at the Amelia Island Concours Classic Car Week also report record figures, with proceeds totalling over 100 million dollars. At Bonhams, appearing at the show for the first time, rare American pre-war models are in demand. A 1930 Cord Model L-29 Town Car fetches 1.76 million US dollars, and upwards of 1.7 million is paid for the 1908 American Underslung Roadster. At Gooding & Company, a price of 3.3 million is obtained for a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, while two Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster models built in 1957 and 1963 each achieve a sum in excess of 1.2 million dollars.
Auction houses claim highest sales ever.
The proceeds from the RM Sotheby’s Amelia auction total over 60 million dollars – a sum unparalleled in the last 20 years. A 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet achieves close to 6.4 million dollars, a Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A built in 1935 with 540-K engine fetches over 3.3 million. Other open-top Mercedes models are also in demand: One of the rare 300 Sc Cabriolets changes hands for 1.1 million.
A 1952-built 220 Cabriolet A goes for 286,000 dollars, while two 190 SL models are sold for 165,000 and 209,000 dollars. Perfectly restored “Pagoda” models also go for big money, with 132,000 dollars being offered for a 280 SL built in 1969.
Classy, stylish and bizarre.
Organiser Bill Warner, the Organisation Committee and the more than 600 volunteers who get the Concours up and running year after year are now rewarding themselves with a little break. But planning for next year’s event will soon begin in earnest. What will be on display in March 2016? “We already have pledges for some very exciting cars,” states Bill Warner, who is expecting another spectacular showing. But he’s not ready to divulge further details yet. After the public success of the “Cars of the Cowboys” decorated with cowhorns and pistols this year, there is to be another “amusing cars” category in March 2016: bizarre hunting vehicles. Together with chic sports cars, elegant saloons and rare classic cars from what will then be 130 years of automotive history, there will be yet another eclectic mix of the kind that has given Amelia Island such a great reputation: it is not only one of the best but also one of the most multi-faceted classic car meetings in the world.
Here you find an interview with Sir Stirling Moss.