This past weekend, The Amelia, formerly known as The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, was held for its 28th year at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club of Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Like many automotive extravaganzas of this scale, there was more fun to be had than just Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance & Car Show.
If you think this is another stuffy, uptight concours event, you’d be wrong. Many of the 25,000-plus attendees come for the automotive activities on Saturday. There’s Cars & Caffeine which consisted of 350 curated vehicles from across the country, displayed in the same place as the main event on Sunday.
If you’re still living in the 80s and 90s (or want to be), you’d feel right at home attending RADwood, a show dedicated to the vehicles, dress, and pop-culture references of those decades. With 150 vehicles ranging from completely stock time capsules to those decked out in period-correct modifications, it’s quite an event to experience.
If the bizarre and unique is more up your alley, look no further than the Concours d’Lemons, proudly featuring “vehicles that would never find their way into a real concours event.” It’s all in good fun and provides some comic relief to the judged, invitation-only main event.
There were also hands-on activities for the kids (and the kids at heart) with the Future Drivers Club and Hagerty Ride & Drive.
All of this awesomeness led up to the main event, Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance & Car Show. To learn more about The Amelia, BimmerLife reached out to professional photographer, writer, concours veteran, and all-around automotive enthusiast Jon van Woerden, who supplied all of the photos for this story. Jon needs no introduction as you’ve likely read his articles and seen his photos grace numerous covers of BMW CCA’s Roundel magazine, among many other publications across the automotive spectrum.
BimmerLife: How many years have you attended the Amelia Island Concours?
Jon van Woerden: Believe it not, only once before. My first time was in 2015. It was the year BMW brought the #25 3.0 CSL that had won at Sebring 40 years prior in 1975. The drivers and the crew members of the #25 car were there, including Brian Redman, Sam Posey, and Hans Stuck.
BL: What was your highlight of this year’s event?
JvW: There were just so many cars—it was amazing. The BMWs were awesome this year. I really liked Curtis Engle’s 2002 wagon, because I’m a wagon type of guy. To see that Curtis created that wagon from scratch was very impressive. He won an award for the car that people most likely wanted to drive.
And of course I liked seeing Scott Hughes’ race car [3.0 CSL], which was in the races in ‘73. I’ve seen that car a lot at the races, and Scott does a great job of driving that car. Scott took home a trophy as well, which was made out of a Porsche part!
BL: Were there any BMWs that stood out amongst the others?
JvW: Aside from the 3.0 CSL and 2002 wagon, Walter Scott’s BMW 507, which I believe Thomas Plucinsky told us was the last 507 ever built.
BimmerLife note: On the topic of classic BMWs and the 507, if you haven’t listened to the latest Classic Heart podcast, BMW CCA Foundation Creative Director Jackie Jouret was a guest and spoke of another special 507 that belonged to Elvis Presley. It’s definitely worth a listen!
BL: Did you stop by any of the vendors or BMW displays?
JvW: I stopped by the Griot’s tent, which featured [M Chapter President] Esteban Valentin’s BMW M2 Competition, along with a Porsche and Ferrari on display.
BL: Do you have any advice for first-timers looking to attend next year?
JvW: Get there as early as you can! It rained on Saturday morning. A lot of people didn’t come until the rain stopped, around 11:00 a.m., but then it got really packed. Bring your rain gear—it’s Florida. Otherwise, Sunday was beautiful!
Jon, thanks for sharing your experiences at the 2023 Amelia!
I’d call it a bucket-list event, but in reality it’s an entire weekend of bucket-list events (and then some). It’s certainly on my short list for 2024.—Mike Bevels
[Photos by Jon van Woerden.]