November 2006

Concours d' Elegance - Has Anyone Seen My Duesenberg?

Author: Paul deVere

Trick question: What was the capital of independent auto manufactures in America in the first half of the 20th Century? Think Auburn, Stutz, Duesenberg, Marmon, Cord and Pierce-Arrow.

If you are a real car buff, the answer is easy. Indiana! These were the cars that rode through the glitter of the Jazz Age and caught the attention of movie stars and U.S. presidents—which is why the Marque of the 5th Annual Concours d’ Elegance and Motoring Festival, “Cars of Indiana,” seems so appropriate. Perfectly restored examples of these automotive works of art will be part of the over 350 cars on exhibit during the November 2-5 show, headquartered at the Coastal Discovery Museum’s Honey Horn.

This year’s entertainment includes the competition, an auto auction, vintage racing and a first-ever fashion show. Proceeds from the event benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head Island, the Coastal Discovery Museum, and the Hilton Head Symphony. The BMW Group is the festival’s main sponsor.

Since its beginning in 2002, the Concours d’ Elegance & Motoring Festival has become the second largest event on Hilton Head Island. This year’s activities will offer car lovers, and anyone else who enjoys the touch of elegance, some real treats.

Activities kick off on Thursday at Roebling Road Raceway, just west of Savannah in the community of Bloomingdale, with warm ups for vintage racing, hot laps with professional drivers, a NASCAR simulator and an Indy 500 Reunion. The Reunion features Indy driver, Lyn St. James, the second woman to race in the Indy 500 (she placed 11th) and the first woman to be named the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.

Following the practice Track Day, the “party” moves to the New River Porsche dealership in Hardeeville on Thursday evening for the “Classics of Indy” VIP reception. If you would like to rub elbows with the drivers, tickets are $50.

Friday, the racing goes on in earnest, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roebling. But if you have your eye on a nice 1933 Duesenberg Riviera Phaeton or a 1968 Chevelle SS 396, you’ll be able to preview the cars that will go on the auction block on the following day. According to the auction companies, Worldwide Group and Hilton Head Auction, there will be more than $5 million worth of classics up for bid on Saturday.

Friday also features a first-of-its-kind fashion show at Sea Pines Country Club. Modeled by local celebrities, the couture will feature vintage pieces, based on the fashion of the 1920s at the original Concours d’Elegance in Paris. There will also be a runway show to display the latest trends in female apparel. Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford museum and this year’s honorary chairperson, will be a guest at the show.

An invitation only reception, catered by Celebration Events, kicks off Friday evening at 5:30, followed by the Hilton Head Symphony’s “Tribute to Frank Sinatra” pops concert at 8 p.m. If you’re not out of breath by now, just wait until you get revved up for Saturday and Sunday.

The U.S. Marine Band starts the festivities off Saturday morning at Homey Horn. Throughout the day, you’ll be able to view the classic cars, take a ride in a new BMW, attend seminars, take a ride around Hilton Head in a classic automobile, bid on that Chevelle during the auction, or just walk around and admire the view.

The climax of the festival on Sunday is, of course, the “concours” or “competition.” The drama begins as the judges thoroughly inspect the 140 cars in the competition. Untold hours, dollars and a great deal of affection have gone into each car. If past shows are any indication, it will take the judges almost three hours to come to a decision. Who will be “Best of Show” in this “competition of elegance?” You will just have to come and see.

Most of the events are open to the public. However, there are individual charges. For a complete listing of the activities surrounding the 5th Annual Concours d’ Elegance and Motoring Festival and the costs to participate, visit

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