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Posted on: November 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM
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Amelia Island vs. Amelia Island, a Tale of Two Trips

Every year Amelia Island, Florida hosts the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance car show and the Gooding Auction - an over-the-top auction featuring about 75 of the rarest and nicest cars on the planet. This year I went to both.

Every year Amelia Island, Florida hosts the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, a high-end car show where your average weekend cruiser is not welcome. Only the best of the best are invited to this international car show. I thought it would be fun to go this year because they were planning to unveil the new C7 Corvette. I asked some car guys to go with me, and we planned to make a road trip out of it.

The actual car show is on a Sunday about 4 hours from my home. We planned to meet early, get there about lunch, see some cool cars and head back late afternoon. Already excited about the car show, I got even more excited when out-of-the-blue I was invited to attend the Gooding Automobile Auction. The Gooding Auction is a rare treat because it’s an over-the-top auction featuring about 75 of the rarest and nicest cars on the planet. It takes place the Thursday and Friday prior to the Sunday show, which meant two trips to Amelia Island in a matter of days.

I can’t afford any of these, but I love rare cars and was excited about seeing them up-close. The auction previews on Thursday for potential bidders and then holds the auction on Friday. I convinced my wife to drive up with me on Thursday with the promise of shopping in Fernandina Beach and a nice hotel and dinner that evening in Jacksonville. I explained that since we were just pretenders, not buyers, we would be going to the auction preview on Thursday and then heading home.

The day was awesome! We had a great lunch and shopping in Fernandina, a charming little port town stuck in time, and then headed to the auction preview. There was only about 50-100 people at the preview so we got to spend unlimited time looking at several rare and expensive cars from all angles. An older gentleman and I pleasantly chatted about a few cars on display. When we parted he wished me luck on Friday. At first I was confused, but then realized he thought I might actually bid against him on a car! I quickly responded with the same warm wish of good luck for him.

Just days later on Sunday, “the guys” loaded up early, and I was headed back to Amelia Island. However, this time we arrived not to a quaint little town, but to a sea of cars jockeying for the closest parking space and shortest walk. We got through the gate and started to walk around. I really enjoyed seeing the new Corvette and several other cars on display. We never really got close to any vintage cars though, because of the layers of people. Often they were taking pictures and would get offended if you walked through their digital shot.

Since mine was an eclectic group-from a teenager to a senior citizen, I tried to look at cars and displays that would appeal to everyone. This often meant newer cars or models that were generally well known and popular with the masses. I definitely noticed a generation gap in the group. The teen focused on newer cars while the senior focused on cars that debuted when he was a teenager. We spent quite a bit of time pulling him away from other seniors reminiscing about the cars of their youth.

The two back-to-back visits to Amelia Island caused me to reflect. I was initially more excited about the show then the auction, but in the end, I really didn’t enjoy the show. The preview gave me time to enjoy the lines of the cars and to feel the emotion of the drivers from when the cars were driven as race cars or daily drivers. At the show, I enjoyed the time with my friends, but it seemed the audience was there to ogle the million dollar car without a care about the history or the people involved in creating those beautiful cars.


Fernandina Beach was an important port and railhead in the 1800’s, so much so that Fort Clinch was built there to protect the port. American Beach, on the other side of the island, was a black-only community and beach for many years.

Jones Garage is monthly column by Kevin Jones, President of MIDFLORIDA and certified car guy to talk about his cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members. In addition to his stories, we will feature a different member’s car and story. Please email your car story with a picture of your car to Julie Townsend at jtownsend@MIDFLORIDA.com

A special prize will be awarded if we use your car in an issue of Jones Garage.