Amelia Island, I made it!

After the adventures of my first attempt to drive to Amelia Island, I was eager for an uneventful journey in my GTI, and that’s what I experienced. I left Nashville around 5:00 am and cruised down the same stretch of I-24 that ruined my trip the day prior. My pothole awareness was understandably high, but early morning traffic was sparse, so avoiding the in-road hazards was easy.

I made good time due to an empty stomach and judicious rationing of my Yeti mug full of coffee. In less than four hours of driving, I passed Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and didn’t stop until I was almost in Macon, GA. I shook my head as I passed the hotel where I planned to stay Wednesday evening. After a relaxing lunch in Savannah, a place I must explore more in the future, the rest of my drive was uneventful. 

As I said in my last post, there are many affordable options during car week if you’re adventurous. I rolled into my Airbnb in Amelia Island in time to unpack and get acquainted with my compact environment. This fun little spot was less than $100 per day for my four-day, three-night stay. I was traveling solo, so it worked great for me; your results may vary. 

My cozy accommodations for the weekend

Friday was the Werks Reunion at Amelia Island, and the Porsche Club of America did a fantastic job. There were over 750 Porsches on the Amelia River Golf Club lawns, and some of the examples were cars seldom seen on the roads. I arrived early in the morning to catch the arrival of show cars. Seeing them rolling across the lawns while volunteers guide them into position makes for some great photos and conversations. Especially as the morning sun crests the trees and the evening dew still clings to the grass. 

Safari in style

This spectacular, rare Fayence Yellow Carrera GT pulled in not long after I arrived. Hearing the revs of this V-10 beast in the early morning is better than any caffeinated drink I’ve tasted, and I drink a lot of coffee. The experience improved when I chatted with the owner and learned he drove the car seven hours to get to the event. This now million-dollar-plus supercar is no trailer queen, which makes me happy. 

A rare beauty on the move

The mix of old and new is something PCA always does well at its shows, and Werks Reunion continued that trend. Almost every street car Porsche has manufactured was represented on the lawn. Some of the earliest and most meticulously cared-for 356s I have ever seen sat within yards of a 918 Spyder, Carerra GT, two 959s, and a new Ruf SCR. Not to mention several recent GT3s, Macans, and every flavor of Taycan body style Porsche currently has to offer. I was also able to catch up with many old friends, which was fantastic.

One of the day’s highlights happened within minutes of my arrival as I spotted the phenomenal photographer Michael Alan Ross. You can find Michael’s work in nearly every issue of Porsche Panorama and dozens of books, calendars, advertisements, and other automotive products. At the Porsche Parade in 2019, Michael graciously let me shadow him for a day as he shot cars for a series of future articles. After catching up for a bit, I walked with him as he worked the Werks crowd looking for cars and stories for future articles, all while using the last of the perfect golden hour light. Watching a photographer like Michael shoot is something that will never get old as he sees things the rest of us don’t. The chance to learn a bit of that magic is worth all the trouble of getting to the event. 

Unveiled!

The other top highlight of the day was seeing the reveal of the 1 of 1 Classic Club Coupe. This car was a joint venture between PCA and Porsche Classic hatched in 2018 at the last Rennsport Reunion event over a quintessentially California dinner of In-N-Out burgers. Porsche knows the value of its history. Its customers love keeping old Porsches on the road, so it has heavily invested in its Porsche Classic department dedicated to doing just that. With the 996 model 911 in the Porsche Classic program, it seemed like a perfect chance to take a car that needed some love and give it a proper Porsche treatment. 

PCA Executive Director Vu Nguyen found just the car in a black 996 C2 that was in such bad shape, the Porsche dealer didn’t even want to sell it but scrap it for parts. PCA purchased the car for a small sum and shipped it to Porsche to work their magic. I was there with Vu to load this car onto a trailer and tow it to PCA headquarters, where it would leak oil and take up space for a few weeks until it made its trip to Germany. The car was ratty inside and out and had a broken suspension that made it crab walk when we pushed it around. 

Flash forward about three years, and it is now a bespoke car showcasing the highest work from Porsche. The team in Stuttgart installed a new 996 era GT3 engine and drivetrain complete with custom aero bodywork and a ducktail spoiler reminiscent of the vaunted 1972 911 Carrera RS. The color and the double-bubble roof nod to my favorite 997 edition 911, the 2010 Sport Classic. If rumors are to be believed, that 2010 Sport Classic will not be the last of its kind, and I suspect the upgraded color seen on the Classic Club Coupe will be what that model wears when/if it debuts. 

The final result is stunning inside and out. My role in this endeavor was admittedly small, but it was still very cool to see this car again for the first time since it left for Germany. If things go according to plan, it will make the event rounds with PCA and Porsche for a year or so and then will be available for auction to a fortunate PCA member; stay tuned. 

Saturday was time to check out the hub of the events for the weekend, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel golf course, site of the newly named “The Amelia” by Hagerty. While the Concours display would take place on Sunday, Saturday was for the Cars and Caffeine showcase, RADwood, and the Concours de Lemons (a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek take on the car Concours culture). This was the first year of Hagerty’s ownership of the Amelia Island events, and while there were some logistical growing pains, things seemed to go very well from my perspective. 

The legendary Ferrari F40

Walking through the collections showcased one of my favorite aspects of car culture. Cars and Caffeine offered everything from extremely limited-run cars like the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhouse SCG 004 or freshly reimagined Hispano Suiza Cameron to a well-loved VW bus and a modified, hard-driven Mazda Miata. The attention often goes to wild child Lamborghinis and multi-million dollar hypercars, but nearly as many people ogled a mint Morgan 8 or E30 BMW M3 as did the Ferrari section. There was, literally, something for everyone from cars just hitting the market, like the new electric Hummer, to a 50-year-old Porsche with ripped seats and a few hundred thousand miles on the clock.  

Many car world celebrities attended too, like former race car driver and current television commentator Justin Bell, racing legend Hurley Haywood, the Urban Outlaw himself Magnus Walker, and his exceedingly talented girlfriend, automotive journalist Hannah Elliot, among others. But unlike well-known people in other circles, there were no boundaries to interact with them. The most famous people in the arena walked around like everyone else, looking at the fine automobiles on display and catching up with friends and fans alike. 

Across the street lay the Radwood and Lemons displays. I’ve been to a RADwood show before, and I genuinely enjoy what they do because I am squarely in their age demographic. I didn’t grow up dreaming about a 69 Camaro or 70’s Mopar machines, I was a kid during the 80s and 90s, and those are the cars that excite me. Seeing a mint 1992 300Z makes me happier than any 60’s muscle car can. The founders of RADwood tap into that nostalgia by creating a show dedicated to machines from the 80s and 90s. 

It doesn’t matter the country of origin, as long as the car came from the glorious non-digital age. Because they were arguably the best of the era, Japanese market cars tend to rule as a cherry Supra, 300Z, 3000GT, or Eclipse is guaranteed to bring the crowds. JDM unicorns we couldn’t get in the US like the Nissan Skyline GTR or the spritely Kei cars like the Autozam AZ-1 are also favorites. This show included a TVR in an outrageous pearl metallic orange color that just exploded in the Florida sun. A Back to Future replica version of a Delorean with its owner in full Doc Brown regalia entertained as well.

I would have loved to experience the many auctions that were also going on that weekend, but I had limited time, so I chose the two main events for Friday and Saturday, and I wasn’t disappointed. Maybe next year I’ll be able to stay until Monday to witness the Concours experience on Sunday. From the photos I’ve seen on Instagram, it was quite the show and is worth checking out. 

Now that I have made it to the events, I see the fuss regarding Amelia Island. Being one of the first car events of the year and a sign that winter is nearly over is a huge reason this event is so popular. Still, it wouldn’t be special without the fantastic variety of vehicles and the inviting nature of the people. I see this being an annual trip for me; I hope the future drives will be less memorable. 

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