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Corvette Celebration at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours

Paying Homage to the Corvette Legend

Walt Thurn Oct 1, 2013
Chevy Corvette C7 2/12

The third C7 prototype (VIN 003EX), which debuted at the NAIAS in January, was on display at Amelia. Although the area around the car was roped off, GM reps were kind enough to let us step inside and snap this photo. 

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance held its 18th annual show at the Ritz Carlton hotel and golf resort in March. The show is a fundraiser for the Hospice of Northeast Florida and plays a vital role in funding this important organization.

Event founder Bill Warner is a racing enthusiast, and thanks to his efforts, the show honors a top race driver each year. For 2013 he selected veteran racer and TV commentator Sam Posey, who participated in many different motorsports venues during his career. One of his more notable accomplishments came at the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he drove a Ferrari 365 Daytona for the North American Racing Team (NART). He finished Sixth overall and Second in class, a few spots ahead of the NART ZL1 Corvette crewed by this author.

The four-day Concours is filled with auctions, wine tastings, driving experiences, fine-art displays, and keynote seminars. On Sunday the 10th and 18th fairways are filled to capacity with some of the finest automobiles from around the world. Corvette fans were well taken care of at Amelia this year, with special tribute paid to the 50th anniversary of the original Sting Ray. (See related story.)

The other big news for Corvette fans centered around the stunning new C7 Stingray, one of which was on prominent display at the show-field entrance on Sunday. The well-traveled Cyber Gray C7 was surrounded by every generation of Corvette from C1 to C6, much as it was at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

1959 Chevy Corvette 3/12

GM VP of Global Design Ed Welburn brought the beautiful ’59 Stingray to the Concours. When Welburn was promoted to his position, he commissioned his staff to perform a complete restoration on this significant Corvette.

On Sunday a reserved area on the northwest corner of the show field was reserved for ’63 Sting Rays. The display featured one ultrarare Grand Sport owned by the Collier Foundation in Naples, Florida, as well as the original Stingray prototype, which is owned by GM.

The showcase also included former race and show cars that currently reside in private collections. Several of significant Z06-optioned cars were on display, including one previously owned by Mickey Thompson. It was one of six that Zora Arkus-Duntov delivered to Thompson in late 1962 to race at a track in Riverside, California. While this particular car never raced at Riverside, it did appear at Daytona in 1963, where it set the pole and finished Third in overall.

Speaking of unusual Stingrays, ProTeam Corvette Sales displayed a righthand-drive ’63 coupe that was converted by GM in Australia. It was shown at the 1963 Melbourne Motor Show and has only been driven a little over 22,000 miles since new. The flawless conversion looked like it could have been done at the St. Louis Assembly Plant.

Across the show field was an area for unusual cars called “What Were They Thinking?” Mid America Motorworks’ Mike Yager used this space to display the driveable bare chassis of his ’64 XP819 Corvette prototype. It’s difficult to imagine how much time it took Corvette Repair, located in Valley Stream, New York, to rebuild this incredible Corvette, much of which had to be re-fabricated along the way. The body is slated to be installed sometime next year.

Bill Warner should be very proud of the growth and quality of the Amelia Concours d’Elegance. It offers the right mix of atmosphere, elegance, variety, and a chance to mingle with a veritable “who’s who” of the automotive hobby. If you’re planning on attending the 19th show next year on March 7-9, make your hotel reservations soon, as area hotels invariably sell out. You won’t be disappointed.

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