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Concours: Mobile masterpieces

HILTON HEAD ISLAND CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE & MOTORING FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF THE AUTOMOTIVE ARTS.


Story by Lisa Allen + Photography by Arno Dimmling 

Hilton Head lives and breathes beauty. Beauty in the oceanside sunrises and in the sway of Spanish moss amid enormous live oaks, beauty in a soaring golf tee shot and beauty in the sensual curve of a car fender.

For 20 years now Hilton Head has lured to our slice of living artistry the most beautiful cars in the world for the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival, which means the contest of elegance. Indeed.

The desire to show off our modes of transportation probably dates back to the wheel. In 17th-century France aristocrats paraded horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends. Over time, carriages became horseless, and since 1929 vehicles have been presented to judges to be evaluated on their appearances.

The first Concours in North America was staged in 1950 at Pebble Beach. Many communities have hosted these events since, but several have come and gone. Even Pebble Beach took a few years off in the 1950s. It takes a lot of perseverance to entice owners and attendees to return year after year. Hilton Head appears to have mastered it, swatting away challenges posed by the Great Recession, Hurricane Matthew and Covid.

Its success is a combination of being one of the last Concours of the year, a gorgeous setting at Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, and exceptional Southern hospitality. It has earned a reputation as being well organized, friendly and welcoming to all. It’s easy to see that event organizers learned at the feet of the masters of Lowcountry graciousness, the RBC Heritage golf tournament leaders.

Throw in vintage aircraft and boats, curated car clubs, a creative annual lifestyle theme and now a Saturday after-party featuring nationally awarded local brews and spirits and they-should-have-a-Grammy talented local musicians, and it’s a can’t miss weekend of the year.

Lest one forget that there are artists behind that chrome, the Hilton Head weekend includes dinner with the world’s best automotive designers. One can meet the people who create today’s rolling masterpieces from BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, Dodge and Chrysler, as well as Pixar’s Cars franchise.

In celebration of its longevity, the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance is celebrating its 20th with past Best in Show cars and paying homage to the lifestyle themes over the years, such as Life on the Silver Screen, Life of the Rich & Famous, Life on the Farm and Life on the Road.

Schedule of events 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3
Grand Motoring Film Festival, 5-9 p.m., Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4
Driving Tour, The Parris Island Experience, 8 a.m., Beaufort
Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala, 7-10 p.m., Hilton Head Island Airport
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5
Car Club Showcase, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Port Royal Golf Club
Aero Expo, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Hilton Head Island Airport
Legends of the Autobahn East, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Port Royal Golf Club
Austin-Healey Southeastern Classic, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Port Royal Golf Club
Satisfy Your Thirst After-Party, 4-6 p.m., Port Royal Golf Club
Design Among the Stars, 6:30 p.m., Harbour Town Clubhouse, Sea Pines Resort
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6
Concours d’Elegance, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Port Royal Golf Club