Ruth went to Hilton Head with 2 other ladies to take a sailing class several years ago and never stopped talking about what a special place it was after returning. On our trip back East recently, I finally had the chance to experience it too, and now I know why Ruth was so enamored. It’s hard to describe how close to perfection this shoe-shaped island is. Let me just say that on its 42 square miles there are almost 50 shopping centers, more than 20 golf courses, and an endless number of daily activities for the mostly affluent 35,000 permanent residents who share their home annually with 2 million visitors. Both groups are shopping at Whole Foods, using the cross-island toll road, and wishing they could get into yet another sold-out performance at The Jazz Corner.
What we did get into, however, was admirable compensation because we just happened to be on Hilton Head Island during its 13th annual car show, uh, excuse me…during the Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance. This 2014 Mecca of Motoring, held from October 24th to November 2 was, simply, the best car show I’ve ever attended. A life-long buff and father to an even more dedicated car fanatic, I can make this claim based on vast experience.
This Motoring Festival has gotten so large and popular that its venue has changed. It now sprawls across large portions of the Fort Royal Golf Club, which means a lot less dust for fussy collectors. Access, however, requires parking at the old venue and taking a free shuttle to the not-free show advertised as “The most unique and innovative motoring festival in the world”. This is, I now know, not outrageous self-promotion but the truth. The number of vehicles, including motorcycles, on display has grown so vast that they must be grouped. A couple of the designations in 2014 were Fifty Years of Muscle Pontiac GTO and Production Modern 1949-1973 American. Of course, visitors get to see new vehicles too, like a well-swarmed Tesla.
Each year collectors like Bill and Christine Snyder are honored. The Snyders, who have been active in the Classic Car Club of America in Ohio and Florida, own more than 20 classics including a Cord. One of their impossibly ideal autos on display was the Stutz MB/SC that Bill bought on his 16th birthday for $500. Their most unusual car was, in my opinion, a 1963 Ford Shorty, a pre-production Mustang. However, the vehicle that caused the most personal eye-bulging was Bill’s 1966 Ford Shelby GT 350.
This wasn’t my personal Best in Show. That was the 1929 Chrysler Model 75 Dual Cowl Phaeton owned by Robert and Alice Jepson of Savannah. This 2 shades of blue, sky and heaven, is a multiple prize winner. Its Motoring Festival People’s Choice # was 2841. Yes, paying visitors get to vote for their favorites. People’s Choice is just one of many awards given including Outstanding Original Vehicle and the new Paul Doerring Founder’s Award.
If you love cars and Hilton Head, find out when the 2015 show, uh, festival will be and head toward South Carolina.