A race car that twice conquered the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the French classic endurance race in the 1960s, and a passenger car that represented the very best of what American automakers could build prior to World War II took top honors Sunday at the 18th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. While most concours for classic cars pick just one Best of Show, Florida's largest such show picks a car for elegance and one for sport — from a field this year that included more than 300 vintage and classic cars, race cars and motorcycles.
The concours honored American race driver turned television analyst Sam Posey as its honored guest, and the Porsche 911 and Ford GT40 were the featured marques.
A 1968 Ford GT40 owned by the Rocky Mountain Auto Collection of Bozeman, Mont., was named Best in Show Concours de Sport, while a 1936 Duesenberg SJN, owned by The Nethercutt Collection of Sylmar, CA, took the Best in Show Concours de Elegance.
The GT40 program was driven by then Ford Motor Co. chairman Henry Ford II who wanted a racecar to beat Ferrari at its own game, and close to its backyard. And the GT40 did just that, with the Amelia-winning car winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968 and 1969. Chassis No. 1075 has quite a provenance, winning six of the 11 races in which it competed.
Wayne Daudet, the car’s caretaker, said the Rocky Mountain Auto Collection has owned the car for 15 years, and it has not been restored. The body shows the cracks and paint chips earned in competition, and he said he was quite surprised to see the car win top honors.
“This is just awesome. I never thought we could win an award like this with so many good cars in the field,” Daudet said. The GT40 was one of the concours’ featured models with 14 of them on the show field.
The Duesenberg holds a special place in the heart of Jack Nethercutt, whose late father, noted car collector J.B. Nethercutt, purchased the car in 1956. “This was the first car my father bought,” Jack said. He sold it to another famed collector, Bill Harrah of Harrah’s Casino fame, who had the car restored. In the late 1960s, Nethercutt bought the car back from Harrah and it’s been part of the Nethercutt Collection since.
“We had restored the car, or re-restored it, two years,” Nethercutt said. The car was entered in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance following that restoration, but it did not garner an award. “There were some boo-boos in that restoration,” Nethercut said, “And we’ve fixed those boo-boos now. But this is just such a delight to win here, because all the work that goes into preparing a car like this, it’s just a delight to win. And I just love this silver paint…it just glows.”
Much like his owner, after being handed the winning trophy.
Photos: Roger Hart for Yahoo! Autos