Perfection in All Things Mobile

Posted On November 8, 2018

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance Brings the Best in Automotive and Aviation 

By Melissa Sprouse Browne     Photos Courtesy of the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance

Saving the best for last, the annual Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance is held over two weekends in late October and early November. With a full array of activities and venues, the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance is the culmination of the concours season.

“We’ve become a designer mecca, getting important car designers to come here,” said Carolyn Vanagel, President of the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “They love the Lowcountry vibe. There are a lot of fancy people here, but you don’t know it. They’ve been showing at Pebble Beach, but they come here and don’t get hassled and stay under the radar for one of the last major auto events of the year.”  

Several designers will be involved at this year’s event. Robin Page, senior vice president of design for Volvo Cars, will be a guest judge and a featured designer at Autoweek’s Design Among the Stars dinner, sponsored by Jaguar. He joins Bob Boniface, director of design, Buick exteriors; Moray Callum, vice president of design, Ford Motor Company; Jay Ward, creative director of the “Cars” movie franchise, Pixar Animation Studios; and Ralph Giles, head of design, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.  

The Design Among the Stars dinner gives guests a chance to interact with these world-renowned automotive designers and support the charitable cause of the Concours’ foundation, Driving Young America. Held at the South Carolina Yacht Club on Saturday evening, November 3rd, attendees may bid on artwork sketched by the designers at the event for a one of a kind piece of automotive memorabilia. 

The Savannah Speed Classic is the kick-off to this multi-state, dual weekend gathering. This weekend features multiple races, produced by HSR (Historic Sportscar Racing). Enjoy Weathertech Sprint races, the Sasco Sports International/American Challenge, the B.R.M. V/GTC Enduro Challenge and hot lap rides and touring laps.  Pit access is available to anyone with a Savannah Speed Classic ticket. 

Limited bleacher seating is available along the track, with lawn seating available for spectators. The host hotel is the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, which is a short golf cart drive away from the Grand Prize of America Track on Hutchinson Island. If you’re going over to the track, be sure to bring your sunscreen and a hat, as there’s not much shade available unless you have your own tent or RV. 

Car clubs will exhibit in the Car Club Corral in the infield area of the track, bringing a number of single and mixed marque displays for visitors to peruse.

​A variety of food trucks will be serving up quick bites during the race weekend.
Creating a mini food truck festival, a number of area trucks will be in attendance, offering a variety of cuisine and Lowcountry favorites. This year’s food truck roundup includes: Divine Eatery, Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub, The Naked Dog, The Big Cheese, Time to Eat, Yoshi’s Kitchen and Leopold’s Ice Cream. 

“Twenty percent of the visitors to our event stay ten days or more,” Carolyn commented. “We kick it off in Savannah with vintage racing. It’s the only time you’ve got racing on this course, which is turned from a purpose-built road course into a full track for that weekend. It’s right across from downtown Savannah, which is a great place to walk and shop.”

For many, the main event is the second weekend at Hilton Head’s Port Royal golf course for the carefully curated show. The bustling crowd tours four fairways of approximately 200 vehicles on Saturday and 175 on Sunday for the judged Concours d’Elegance. But, there’s so much more to do than just look at the amazing eye candy of these perfect examples of automotive class and creativity. 

It’s a full weekend of lifestyle options for those who want to experience the best Hilton Head has to offer. For those who’ve attended for many years, it’s always nice to see old friends and make new ones while enjoying the many exhibits, talks and parties. Members of car clubs descend in droves from all over the country for this special time of the year. 

Representatives from the Porsche Experience Center and PCNA (Porsche Cars North America) in Atlanta will be on-site, celebrating 70 Years of Porsche. Brands from yesteryear to modern manufacturers will be well-represented by individuals and corporate displays. Exotics are a mainstay at this concours, with Ferrari, Lamborghini and more dotting the landscape on the rolling greens of the Port Royal golf course.

An exciting addition that has grown into a spectacular portion of the event is focused on aviation. While there will be a number of exciting aircraft on display at the Hilton Head Airport, just a short shuttle ride away, this year brings the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour. The opportunity to tour through and even fly in the most recognizable aircraft from World War II will include the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator and the P-51 Mustang. If you’ve ever heard the distinct roar of those radial engines, you’ll want to be sure that this event is on your fall travel list so you can experience these incredible aircraft up close. 

Beyond those iconic war planes, a collection of new and vintage aircraft will be on display as well, showing the progression of aviation technology through the decades. You can expect to see early Pipers, deHavillands, Spartans and more. 

Guests at the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala will have an exclusive opportunity to view the vintage aircraft on Friday night at the party of the year. “Porsche will be giving rides in a 911 on the runway – hot laps at the airport. Volvo has picked up on our lifestyle approach and we have this whole theme called Art Moves, positioning cars as art, #artmoves. They’re bringing museum cars and this year, Volvo is doing a cool activation at our event, staging cars to look like they’re playing tennis. We’re also partnering with tennis star Stan Smith, who will be signing copies of his new book, ‘Stan Smith: Some People Think I’m a Shoe,’” Carolyn explained. Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala is a high energy party on the jet ramp, where aircraft pairings with concours cars take center stage. All proceeds benefit their Driving Young America charitable initiatives. 

If you go:

•Savannah Speed Classic, October 26 – 28, 2018, The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa

•Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, November 2 – 4, 2018, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa at Port Royal


•Vintage Auto Film Exhibition: Nov. 1, 6:00p – 10:00p, Coligny Theatre

•Cars and Cigars: Nov. 1, 6:30p, Carolina Cigars

•Rally Italia Sardegna Dinner: Nov. 1, 6:30p, Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana

•Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala: Nov. 2, 7:00 – 10:00p, Hilton Head Island Airport General Aviation

•Sports Car Market Insider Seminar: Nov. 3, 9:00a, Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa

•Satisfy Your Thirst After Party: Nov. 3, 4:00p – 6:00p, Port Royal Golf Club

•Autoweek’s Design Among the Stars: Nov. 3, 6:30p, South Carolina Yacht Club

•Design Trends in the Automotive Industry, Nov. 4, 11:15a – 12:15p, Port Royal Golf Club, Road & Track Clubhouse

•Wings of Freedom Tour: Nov. 2 – 4, Signature Flight Support

•Partnership of Stan Smith, former World #1 Tennis Player and Volvo, showcasing one of a kind Stan Smith sneakers designed by Jay Ward, creative director of “Cars” movie franchise for Pixar Animation Studios: Nov. 2 – 4

•The Life Along the Orient Express exhibit, includes over 30 jaw-dropping cars of Southern Europe: Nov. 3 – 4

•World’s Leading French automobile collectors, Peter & Merle Mullin, with vehicles from the Mullin Automotive Museum: Nov. 3 – 4

•Porsche Taxiway Rides (up to 150 mph) at the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala, priority boarding cocktail hour: Nov. 2, 6:00p – 7:00p

A sampling of vehicles expected to appear this year:

1910 Oakland Model M Roadster

1947 Talbot-Lago T26

1963 Daimler 2.5

1952 Citroen 11BL Traction Avant

1968 Siata Spring

1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria

1927 Pierce-Arrow Series 80 Club

1934 Mercedes Benz 500 K

1940 Packard Woodie Wagon

1938 Delahaye 135MS

1931 Detroit Electric 98A

1956 Packard Caribbean

1971 Mercedes Benz 280 SL

1967 Shelby GT350 Fastback

1958 Studebaker President Starlight

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

1958 Pontiac Parisienne

1971 BMW 2002 Cabriolet

1959 Berkeley B-95

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1964 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ-8 Mark III Phase 2

1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gull Wing

1949 MG TC

1958 Porsche 356 Speedster

1979 BMW M1

1948 Allard M 1

1968 Sunbeam Tiger Mark II

1937 Morgan Super Sport 3 Wheeler

1973 Harley-Davidson XLC