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Highlands Motoring Festival June 8-11, 2023

Jim Weed

Volume 48 Issue 12

Jun 24, 2023

Highlands, is hidden away in the North Carolina mountains. The Highlands Motoring Festival brings high-quality automobiles together to enjoy twisty mountain roads and crisp mountain air.

    One of the great joys of living in the south is the ability to enjoy the twisty roads of the Appalachian Mountain chain. This mountain range begins in mid-Alabama and travels northeast all the way to Maine and into Canada.

    One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, it has been worn down by time and erosion. Once as high and majestic as the Alps or Rocky Mountains it is now covered by forests and streams.

    The steepness of the terrain and the difficulty in creating roads has made many Appalachian towns remote, distant, and isolated.

    Modern engineering and dynamite make traveling to towns a much less arduous journey than in the past. Good weather without harsh winter allow the roads to remain in good condition, perfect for driving.

    Mountain roads wind along the mountain side following the contours while intermittently dipping into valleys with creeks and rivers flowing next to the road. Alternatively, climbing up the hillside in order to meet a pass through to the other side.

    Nestled within the North Carolina wilderness is the town of Highlands. Home to several resort communities, golf is the favorite pastime. It is also home to the Highlands Motoring Festival.

    While not as large as Amelia Island or Pebble Beach, the quality of automotive history makes this show better than your local Cars & Coffee.

    Not content to provide a static show, participants are encouraged to enjoy their cars on the road. Thursday and Friday are dedicated to the One Lap of the Mountains driving tour.

    Here you can exercise your driving ability while taking in the beautiful vistas along historic roadways in and around the Highlands area. The excellent route book keeps participants informed along the way, so mountain views and waterfalls are not missed while concentrating on centerlines and apexes.

    Saturday is the big show held in Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park just off the main street. Cars arrive and are shepherded to their various class areas. BMW is the featured marque and there were many examples.

    BMWs range from the high-performance M1 through a unique Z1 to a minuscule Isetta and an even more rare Dixi (if you don’t know, Google it, they are extremely cute.).

    In addition to BMW there were many other cars to see. Early brass era and some 1950s Cadillac and Lincoln were on display. 1960s muscle cars filled an area with Corvettes and Pontiac. There was even a Shelby Cobra, once the arch enemy of the 250 GTO.

    Ferrari was represented by a small but excellent contingent. The oldest was a 250 GTE brought by Keith Bass. Previously owned by Ed Swart, it is a Series III version beautifully restored in red with tan interior.


    Steve Cantera’s 512 BB has been warmed over by Carobu Engineering with extra horsepower. He drove it on the One Lap  tour. Twisty roads and no power steering made for quite a workout but his excitement in describing the experience was quite evident.

    A two-owner 275 GTB/4 was brought by Henry Wilkinson. This car was initially owned by Greg Garrison, movie producer and Ferrari aficionado extraordinaire. Mr. Wilkinson continues to drive and enjoy this car as Enzo intended.



    If there is a Boxer and a 275 GTB/4 there must also be a Daytona to fill the slot between those two eras. Julie Ibrahim has owned this one since 1985 and it is always a joy to see. It is red with black interior but it is the gold wheels that make this one really stand out.



    A Testarossa and a 328 GTS round out the rest of the field. Roland Linder brought the Testarossa and Fred Mix the 328 GTS. The 328 is a European version and it was interesting to note some of the detail differences compared to a USA version.

    Ferrari of Atlanta was a major sponsor for the event and displayed a Roma, an SF90 Stradale and a 296 GTB.



    There is a serious aspect to the Highlands Festival which is donating to charity. This year donations went to three deserving organizations in the local community. REACH helps victims of abuse, The Literacy & Learning Center to further adult education, and The Community Care Clinic of Highlands and Cashiers to provide medical care for those without insurance.

    All of these programs are helping the surrounding area and make attending the Highlands Motoring Festival well worth the trip.


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