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Concours 2017: Honored Collector showcases the art of engineering

Although collectors motor in from all across the nation and Canada to show their cars, this year’s Honored Collector award winner at the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance is from the Lowcountry’s backyard.

Robert “Bob” S. Jepson Jr., a name synonymous with Savannah, will showcase four cars from the 1920s era that are true, stunning combinations of art and engineering.

“Bob’s collection of cars will dazzle. They are rare works of art on wheels,” said Carolyn Vanagel, president of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance. “He’s been a long-term supporter and participant in our Concours.”

Jepson is no stranger to the Concours d’Elegance. He has shown cars from his collection in at least four past festivals, including in the Life on the Silver Screen exhibit last year. His 1926 Lincoln L Type 130 Boat-Tail Speedster won a Palmetto Award for its class in 2015.

This year, Jepson is taking four cars to display Nov. 4-5. “Each of them has a neat story and each of them is quite lovely,” he said.

Most of the 22 cars in Jepson’s collection come from the 1920s and 1930s, a period that intrigues him for its engineering accomplishments that kept up with fashion.

“Cars were developing from mechanized seats that got you down the road as an alternative to the horse and buggy. The emphasis was more mechanical rather than art,” he said. “Then in the 1920s and 1930s, those who were building the cars wanted them more beautiful to attract customers. It was a very interesting period in the automobile industry, where engineering and art came together.”

A 28-year Savannah resident and well-known businessman and philanthropist, Jepson founded Jepson Associates Inc., a private investment firm. He is the former head of The Jepson Corporation. He recently stepped down as chair of the Georgia Ports Authority, and still is  active in the Georgia Historical Society and many other boards and committees.

When he started collecting automobiles 12 years ago, Jepson said he started with very popular cars such as Fords and Chevys. Now, his collection has expanded to 22 expensive and rare cars.

“We just love keeping them running and taking them around the country so people get a feel for an era gone by,” Jepson said.

Jepson praised the organizers and volunteers of the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance for keeping the week running smoothly, and for its uniqueness, combining racing with antiques.

“I just think it’s one of the really nice shows in the country,” he said. “It’s unique in that it lasts a week and it appeals to those who have hotter cars and those of us who have older cars who show in the Concours itself.”