Under the hood
Bob Jepson has been working under car hoods since he was a teenager in Richmond, Virginia. He went off to college and got into manufacturing, starting a company that was later listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Then he founded a private investment firm.
“It was natural that when I was able, I got further into cars,” he said.
One of his first acquisitions was a Model A Ford, but he soon realized they didn’t do well in Concours competitions (although he still has a Model A pickup that he loves to drive around his Savannah-area farm). When asked whether it’s the engineering or design of cars that appeals to him, he said it’s both.
“When you look at the engineering and how it’s changed, it’s been quite a ride from when cars weren’t so sophisticated,” he said. “I think the design is something that touches the heart.”
He also appreciates the cars that tried to push the envelope.
“Studebakers from the ‘50s and ‘60s were way ahead of their time. Maybe they were too far ahead of their time.”
Each of his 20 cars represents something special in the evolution of cars.
And of course the standout is his 1936 Horch 853A Special Roadster. It’s one of only six made. It’s won seven best in shows, including the 2022 Hilton Head Concours.
“I have number two,” Jepson said of the Horch. “It’s the only one that didn’t have a special body put on it. I could talk all day about it.”
This year he’s bringing a 1920 Stutz Bearcat to the Hilton Head show.
And while he looks for something distinctive about the cars he collects, he also notices what stands out about each Concours.
“We’ve been to most of the Concours along the East Coast, and all have their uniqueness — something that shines through. The Hilton Head show is big enough that it’s a major show, but you get the feeling you’re at a smaller show and you get a lot of attention. People are so pleased that you brought your car and want to look it over. The management understands that. It’s about having a good time.”
“While it’s competitive, people come because it’s enjoyable,” Jepson said. “Wonderful people put on the show.”