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Concours: 20 years of the absolute best

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HILTON HEAD ISLAND CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE & MOTORING FESTIVAL


Given that cars and their owners come from all over the country, if not the world, to participate in Hilton Head’s Concours, it’s very impressive (and a compliment to the show) that nearly half of the Best of Show winners have agreed to send their babies back so we can ogle them once again.

Area resident Robert Jepson is bringing back the 2019 winner, his 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet.

“I’ve been in love with cars since I was a teenager in Richmond, Virginia,” Jepson said. “I worked at a service station back when they did oil changes and tune-ups.”

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Carbiolet
1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria

SHOW STOPPERS Bob Jepson hopes to win Best of Show with his stunning 1936 Horch 853A Special Roadster (top). He is also bringing his 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet. Also pictured is Joseph and Margie Cassini’s 1931 Stutz DV32 Victoria.

A very successful career as an investment banker and conglomerate mastermind intervened, putting his affection for cars in the back seat. But his desire to own a Model A never waned.

“When I retired, I bought that Model A. Then two,” he said. Those two Model As inspired others. His collection, 20 of which are housed in nearby Ridgeland, now revolves around European cars.

1938 Jaguar ss

Because many of the European luxury cars were hand-built, production runs were small, and few made it over to the United States.

“Every one of them is different, and getting to know these cars is a challenge. That’s what I like,” he said.

“I look for something of quality and unique in its day or limited run or a celebrity connection,” Jepson said. In years past he brought the 1919 purple Pierce-Arrow owned by 1920s silver-screen star, Fatty Arbuckle.

This year Jepson hopes to win Best of Show with his 1936 Horch 853A Special Roadster of which only six were made. (For comparison, Chevrolet built 815,000 cars in 1937, including 478,000 of a single model, the popular Town Sedan.)

1914 Stutz Bearcat
1932 Packard 903 Deluxe Victoria

Jepson is looking forward to the Hilton Head event. “It is the last big show of the year, and it attracts some wonderful cars and the people who own them.”

Judge Joseph and Margie Cassini are coming with their 2018 Best of Show winning 1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria, as well as the 1934 Packard Convertible Victoria that won Pebble Beach Best of Show in 2013. And that’s after the Packard served as a taxi, was hand-painted yellow and red with a brush and came to Cassini in pieces.

Judge Cassini said that when he is considering buying a car, it “has to speak to me. It has to have some sexiness to it. I also like the rarity. It’s very personal, like art, because it is art.”

1928 Packard
1928 Isotta Fraschini

The Stutz is a one-off body by LeBaron, the only Stutz to receive that treatment, Cassini said.

And what stands out to him about the Hilton Head Concours is the setting. “That’s hard to replicate. It’s nice that the cars are spread out on two fairways. It’s a destination location.”

And, of course, there is the hospitality.

“The people, the organizers are terrific. They really go above and beyond. As a participant, you really notice the hospitality aspect of things.”


Here are the past winners that will be at this year’s Concours:

1928 Isotta Fraschini from 2007 owned by Peter Boyle
1928 Packard from 2008 owned by Gordon Logan
1938 Jaguar ss from 2012 currently owned by Mark Hyman
1914 Stutz Bearcat from 2016 owned by Brian and Trish White
1931 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria from 2018 owned by Joseph and Margie Cassini
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet from 2019 owned by Robert Jepson
1932 Packard 903 Deluxe Victoria from 2021 owned by Richard Lambert