Amelia Island Concours d'eleganceA highlight of this year's Amelia Island Concours d'elegance was a reunion of the Grand Sport Corvettes. Built in secrecy by Bow Tie brigade legend Zora Arkus-Duntov in the early '60s, they were aimed at beating Carroll Shelby's Ford-powered AC Cobra roadsters, but the planned production run of 150 never panned out-GM chairman Fred Donner found out about the testing at Sebring and pulled the plug. The cars already built were loaned to privateers who raced them professionally from 1963 through 1966. The famous five were reunited for the first time in many a year in the Sunshine State, where they were to be driven on to the manicured green baize of the Golf Club of Amelia Island surrounding the Ritz-Carlton. It was on the final morning of the show where they would have played a starring role among the serried ranks of shimmering sheetmetal that, for the past seven years, have attracted enthusiasts from far and wide.
Unfortunately for attendees at the 8th annual affair, Mother Nature decided not to cooperate, the traditional Sabbath show 'n' shine being pre-empted by a torrential downpour, replete with thunder and lightning! This necessitated moving the event indoors and it was as well that the upscale hotel and resort had space in function rooms to accommodate a large number of cars. Those that couldn't be fitted inside were placed in parking structures and although the event eventually opened its doors to the public some two hours late, the important thing was that the show went on, thus enabling the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida and other area charities to benefit from a share of the income generated by the event.
The lightweight racing Grand Sports spent the day in the Grand Ballroom, but at the end of proceedings the three coupes and two roadsters were brought out and assembled in front of the venue's main entrance so that the momentous occasion could be captured on celluloid, a one-time tribute in celebration of Corvette's 50th anniversary.
Members of the public and Corvette aficionados have Bill Tower to thank. Bill, who built the Grand Sport engines while working on the General Motors' design team and is currently the owner of one of the quintet, co-ordinated the one-off get-together. Just a shame he had no control over the pluvius factor!