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Max Girardo on hosting the 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Last weekend, Max Girardo travelled to Florida to host the 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the first US classic car event he’s attended since the pandemic struck early last year. Here are Max’s impressions from what was an unforgettable weekend on the Atlantic coast…

When my good friend Bill Warner invited me to MC at the 26th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance early this year, I knew I had to be there – no matter how many hoops that meant jumping through to get through security at the airport and board the plane.

It was more than worth the effort. As ever, Bill and his brilliant team did a wonderful job of organising the concours, gathering a superb and diverse selection of classic cars and attracting America’s most prominent collectors in what has been a tremendously challenging time. There was definitely a collective sense of relief to be at a concours event again.

It was a real pleasure announcing Jill and Charles Mitchell’s 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet and James Bartel’s mighty 1974 Shadow DN4 as the pre- and post-War ‘Best in Show’ victors. Deserving winners. The steely and tenacious racing driver Lyn St. James was also honoured – for our European readers, I heartily recommend searching the seven-time Indy 500 veteran’s name and discovering her incredible story.

For me personally, however, the chance to see Preston Henn’s Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale for the first time in years was my greatest takeaway. The sensational V12 berlinetta was exhibited alongside a plethora of other 275 GTBs – I really think it might be the most beautiful 1960s Ferrari of them all. That silhouette!

“For me personally, however, the chance to see Preston Henn’s Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale for the first time in years was my greatest takeaway.”

The extraordinary collection of Porsche 935s present (including Bruce Meyer’s 1979 Le Mans winner) is also seared in my memory. I’m perhaps guilty of not appreciating these turbocharged titans quite as much as I should, so Amelia was an education. You only had to look at the roster of owners who’d brought their 935s to Florida to understand their appeal – it was a rollcall of America’s biggest collectors.

Above all, the energy throughout the weekend was palpable. From the concours field itself and the salerooms of RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams to the gala dinners I was invited to host, there was a buzz and sense of positivity in the air. I packed my trusty gavel for the latter, as there were charity auctions at each. And I’m proud to say we raised over 60,000 US dollars for some great causes.

I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Bill Warner, not only for asking me to be a part of such a special and important event, but also for weighing my suitcase down on my way home! Bill has just published a wonderful compendium of his superb motorsport photography from the last six decades, both in America and Europe, titled The Other Side of the Fence. I couldn’t resist bringing as many copies as I could back to the UK with me.

I’m already looking forward to returning for next year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, hopefully once the world has unlocked and many more European friends and clients will be able to join. Fingers crossed!

Photos: Ned J. Lawler

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