In 1995, the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Michael Carsch, had a challenge. He had a beautiful oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, only a few years old, and each year he struggled to fill rooms when warm spring weather first arrived on the island. He also knew most people were not familiar with Amelia Island, Florida. Carsch wanted to create an event that would attract a luxury crowd each year. He tracked down a local car collector, Bill Warner, who had a reputation as a passionate car guy. Warner, a successful businessman, photographer and writer for Road & Track, was being urged by other auto enthusiasts to create a classic car show in Florida. With The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Mercedes-Benz as inaugural sponsors, Warner launched the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. The first car show featured 125 cars, world-famous Grand Prix driver Sir Stirling Moss as Honorary Chairman, and drew about 2,000 car enthusiasts. It also sold out The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
Fast forward to 2012, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is entering its 17th year, and is now considered the most prestigious show on the east coast. Collectors consider it one of the big events of the year along with Pebble Beach in California, Meadow Brook in Michigan and Louis Vuitton Classic in midtown Manhattan. They will be joined by an estimated 18,000 enthusiasts who will walk the Concours on Sunday.
This year they will see over 250 high quality rare cars competing for ribbons in the Concours d'Elegance which literally means “a competition of elegance.” Collectors, who are invited to the show, watch as a team of judges rate their cars for authenticity, function, history, style and quality of restorations. Any imperfection requires a fractional point deduction.
Why do collectors subject themselves to the rigor of a Concours competition? For some it is a hobby, they are proud to own a piece of history and want to share their car with other enthusiasts. For others, it is a business investment that can offer a higher return than the stock market. Last years auction sold more than $20 million in rare cars in a single day. But for all, it is a social gathering that celebrates automotive history.
Acknowledging the growth and stature of the Concours d'Elegance, James McManemon, the current general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island says, “The vision of an event that draws an international audience was realized with the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Now as one of the most prestigious car shows in the United States, we are honored to be a founding sponsor and host this truly international event."
The public is invited on Sunday, March 11, 2012. Tickets for the 17th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, are $50 for adults purchased in advance and $60 the day of show. Student ages 12-18 and active military are $25 and children under 12 are admitted at no charge when accompanied by a paying adult.
Event tickets can be ordered in advance at www.ameliaconcours.org or can be purchased at the door.
Hotel Profile, more photos: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island