The Beginning of Normalcy - Amelia Island 2021
Volume 46 Issue 12
Jun 5, 2021
Amelia Island with lots of friends, Ferraris and 275s in all guises but without masks. Are car shows returning to normal? I believe so.
One of my favorite events is Amelia Island. Maybe not quite the prestige as Pebble Beach but a real close second. It’s only my second choice because Pebble Beach is well, Pebble Beach. What Amelia has is a greater variety of automotive examples to look at.
Many of the cars at Amelia are Pebble quality and many more, while not Pebble quality, are more interesting than what is normally found on the west coast golf links. Think of it as an east coast Pebble with fewer suits and more shorts and t-shirts.
Not that you won’t see period dress with goggles and caps or flowing dresses and parasols. Most of the crowd is there to enjoy the cars and there is plenty to see.
This year the honoree was Lyn St. James. Occasionally during the day her name could be heard over the loudspeakers, then an engine would boom to life as she was reunited with one of her former rides. I’m sure she enjoyed the attention, but I would bet she enjoyed sitting in the racecars even more.
Since we are talking racecars there were numerous (that’s more than a few) Porsche 935s. Several versions were displayed and in all different liveries. I could have appreciated them more if I knew anything about Porsches but there was a large crowd of excited people fawning about so I knew it must have been a special treat to see so many.
Nearby was a Shadow. Not just one but several. These Formula and Can-Am cars terrorized racetracks around the world. The technology within the diminutive chassis with the huge engine mated to wheels seemingly not much larger than a go-cart was incredible. It was great to see these up close.
Of course, this being 2021 the field had displays of electric automobiles. Sure, there were manufacturers’ displays of modern cars and trucks that could be ordered but some of the earliest automobiles, and trucks were powered by batteries. Many of the names of these early cars were typically descriptive, Detroit Electric and Studebaker Electric. How cool it must have felt to brag about the Morris and Salom Electrobat you just purchased in 1895.
Electric cars have come a long way from the Electrobat to the SF90.
And that is the essence of Amelia Island Concours. Very early automotive history of Hispano-Suiza and Duesenberg to racing and American muscle cars. You’re not necessarily gonna see that at Pebble.
It is always the incredible diversity throughout the field that pulls you in. As you move through one area, another group of cars you never thought existed come into view. The wonder never stops.
Oh, there are also Ferraris.
Let’s start with the rare and beautiful 342 America. Of the six 342 Americas made there is only one Vignale Cabriolet, S/N 0232 AL. The bright blue metallic paint sets off the cream-colored interior. Dennis and Susan Garrity have shown this car all over the world and it is always special to see in person.
Next was a 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet Series I, S/N 0791 GT, in white. These cabriolets are always special to see in person. Truly one of Pinin Farina’s classic designs that never fails to please the eyes.
As if a white Series I Cabriolet isn’t enough then a black Series II Cabriolet was also shown.
The 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet Series II, S/N 1723 GT, brought by Kevin Cogan, was an exercise in how the Pininfarina design had progressed in a couple of short years.
There were two 365 GTB/4s displayed. Neither Daytona was red. One was fresh from restoration brought by Keith Martin. No, not that Keith Martin. His father purchased the Daytona, S/N 14443, brand new from Chinetti. It has remained in the family since.
As you can imagine, with a one-family car there is a pride of ownership that is unmistakable. The perfect Giallo Fly paint and black interior made this one look like it was moving at speed while just sitting there.
Nearby, was another Daytona, S/N 15749, in Verde Scuro which is a dark forest green. It had a tan interior. It is unusual to see any Ferrari in green, but it was a spectacular color on this one.
Further along the fairway was the supercar area. It was there one could see the first ‘supercar’ Ferrari ever made, a 288 GTO, S/N 54231, brought by Jim Weddle. Next to it was an F40, S/N 80769, of Jasbir Dhillon and then an F50, 103097, brought by Dennis Crowley.
It was interesting to see the progression of the supercars. The 288 GTO looks like a 308 on steroids. While the 288 can be very exciting in terms of performance, it can be very docile on the street. I would think the F40 and F50 would not be as comfortable loafing down the boulevard. Certainly, either one would be more than adequate pushing it around the track.
At the far end of the field were more Ferraris. In a place of honor up on the hill they could be seen from nearly every viewpoint on the field.
There were ten 275 GTBs. Now you would think ten cars all of the same type would be boring. No, far from it.
Of all the Ferrari models, the 275 series has the most number of variants contained within the total number built. Every variant was represented. I don’t believe a finer display could have been assembled.
The earliest car was a short nose with six-carbs in black, brought by Kevin Cogan, S/N 06665. Next was a long nose six-carb alloy with special features, S/N 08067 from the Colson brothers. It had a factory roll bar and outside fuel filler built into the fender. Both of these cars had the two-cam engine installed and would be open driveshaft cars also.
Early in the production of the two-cam cars, Ferrari decided to create a racing version. Three serial numbers were set aside to be made into thinly disguised production cars. These Competition Speciales were made with thin aluminum bodies and thinner frame tubes. Completely stripped of all creature comforts and with the full GTO engine treatment these would be very potent machines.
Unfortunately, while appearing to be the same as its production brothers, the racing committees did not fall for Ferrari’s deceit. Only S/N 06885 competed in period coming in 3rd at Le Mans overall and 1st in class in 1965. It raced several more times with good results and was purchased by Preston Henn in 1971. It has resided with him and the family ever since.
The other Competition Speciale S/N 07185 does not have any in-period history but has been well used by Rob Walton in historic races, I’m sure to the delight of Walton himself and the many spectators who have seen it on the track.
One other competition car was also there. At the end of the two-cam series, Ferrari made a batch of twelve lightweight, dry-sump competition cars. These were closer to the production cars and allowed to compete and were competitive in many races around the world. S/N 09067 was displayed by the Rare Wheels Collection.
For 1967, Ferrari updated the 275 GTB with new cylinder heads. The 275 GTB/4 for four-camshafts was born. All the four-cam cars had closed driveshafts and a long nose, but they could be made with steel or alloy bodies.
There were two of the steel body cars on display, S/N 10051 brought by Duke Steinemann and S/N 10827 brought by Roy Brod. Both of these cars were in a pretty dark blue.
An alloy 275 GTB/4 was represented by S/N 10269 owned by Phil and Martha Bachman. They have a penchant for yellow cars and this one did not disappoint. This particular car is one I personally have a long history with it, so it was good to see it in the flesh again.
There was a time when special features could be added. Scaglietti and Pininfarina could be talked into adding personal touches to a Ferrari. S/N 10021 owned by Arthur De Moulas was one of those. It was painted Oro Chiaro. It had extra vents made into the front bonnet with chrome strips along the central raised portion of the hood. Around the other vents on the body were delicate chrome trim accents in addition to other areas like the trunk opening. The rear taillights were not the standard two large round ones but three small lights on each side like those on the 500 Superfast. It was fascinating to inspect and discover all the details like power windows and a well-worn, but very original interior in green leather.
No grouping of 275s of this caliber could be complete without a NART Spyder. The very first one, S/N 09437 in pale yellow was brought by Lawrence Auriana. This was the one raced by Denise McCluggage at Sebring in 1967. Then it was painted and shown in “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve McQueen.
Certainly, it was the crown jewel of the event.
Amelia Island Concours brings together a diverse number of cars. Its that diversity that makes it a great event. Laid back, with warm sunshine, lots of people and great cars. It has been a good recipe for twenty-six years. I hope Bill Warner and crew continue to put on a first-class show. It may not be Pebble Beach, but I think it is a whole lot better.