The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance has been one of the biggest collector car shows on the East Coast for decades, competing only with the West Coast's famous Pebble Beach, attracting some of the finest examples of cars throughout the country to go on display and compete for highly coveted awards and titles. While your typical Cars and Coffee events can take a fair amount of preparation, the level of time and energy required to get a show car ready for the long-established show is far more extensive than show-goers might initially think.
Picking Out A Car For The Show
Unlike some car shows that allow collectors and owners to bring whatever car they fancy, The Amelia is far more exclusive. Some collectors, such as Mark Pieloch, owner of the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne, Florida, who has more than a hundred excellent examples of cars that would be more than perfect for the show, receive special requests about what to bring. Among his extensive and impressively-maintained collection, the team at the Museum prepared Mark's 1957 Mercury Monterey Convertible to for display on the show field. But it isn't as quick and easy as just picking out a car — it can take the team weeks to prepare the car to full show quality.
"To prep a car for a world-class show such as Amelia Island Concours d'Elegnace, once we know what car has been picked and has the honor to represent us that year, that particular car will go under a thorough inspection," said Ed Dedick, Restorations and Operations Manager. "The first priority is to make sure the car is safe to drive and there is no running or driving issues. Once we are satisfied with that step the car will go through extensive cleaning and polishing process to make it as best as we can. Generally, we have about 120 man-hours just in polishing and detailing the car. Once that stuff is completed we will then make our to-go boxes. What we mean by that is we have something called a Chicago box that has all of the different colors of paint and finishes that car has on it in case we need any touch-ups day of show. Then we have a secondary box that has our cordless polisher, polishing pads, and anything we may need to detail the car out on site."
The American Muscle Car Museum Enters The Stage
This will be the Museum's sixth year participating in the event. This year they will be bringing their Pastel Peach with White 1957 Mercury Monterey Convertible, which will be competing in the American Limited Production class. There were less than 5,000 of these amazing examples ever produced, displaying a 213 cubic-inch V8 engine and the push-button Merc-O-Matic transmission. It will no doubt be an excellent addition to the show and the Museum team is hoping to do well within the class.
Amelia Island Show Cars Must Run And Drive
Unlike some car shows where collectors can trailer their cars to the events and drop them off, it is part of the stipulations for The Amelia is that the car must be able to run and drive under its own power onto the show field and for any required displays in front of the judge's panel. Luckily for the Muscle Car Museum crew, the restoration and maintenance team, headed by Ed Dedick works year-round to ensure the cars remain in both original and high-quality condition. While this may seem like a simple requirement, it isn't uncommon to see at least one car break down on the show field every year — and, on extreme occasions, even catch on fire.
Show-Quality Automotive Detailing
The next task is to get the Mercury Convertible into the best show-quality possible — yes, even more so than your neighbor washing and waxing their car in their driveway. These extensive details are set to ensure that the car is not only clean but also that the exterior and interior are in perfect, or near-perfect condition. This includes everything from the trim panels to the seats and cabin space, all of which must be in original condition or, if necessary, replaced with original pieces. This is far from the show to attend if you are looking for modified cars like you may see at a Tuner Evolution or Simply Clean. From start to finish, the detailing team may take over a week to ensure that the car is in perfect condition. This isn't the end of the preparations, though.
Getting The Car To The Show
For the low-mileage examples that Mark Pieloch keeps in his collection, it wouldn't be reasonable for his show cars to travel such a far distance. From the Museum to the Ritz where The Amelia, the long-standing home of the show, it is nearly 200 miles one way — meaning the car will make the trip on an enclosed trailer and delivered to the show like almost every other car that will be taking the show field this weekend. Once the team has the car loaded onto the transporter they will begin the trip north in their own vehicles to meet the car at the show, where they will continue with the final show preparations.
Taking The Field At Amelia Island
Once the team and the vehicle have arrived at the Ritz, it gets unloaded from the trailer by the transporter and returned to the car of the team, who will begin final preparations for the show. Any minor details that need to be completed in order to get the car into final show condition will happen on the field after the car has been off-loaded. This may range from putting any accessories back into or onto the car to touch-ups of the details to remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated during transit, wiping down the glass on the windows and windshield, and, most importantly, putting up The Amelia information cards detailing information about the car, any relevant or interesting information, any identifying information for the car.
"Once the car is placed on the show field our team will inspect it once again and address any detail issues needed," said Dedick. "We truly feel it is an honor to be invited to the Amelia Island Concours, and how that car is prepped and how that car is looking on the show field is a representation of the American Muscle Car Museum. Our team pours their heart and soul into prepping a car."
The last step is a bit more universal to car shows everywhere, regardless of status: enjoy the show. You can find Ed Dedick, Mark Pieloch, and Andrew Mackey next to their beautiful example 1957 Mercury Monterey Convertible or around the show field all weekend at The Amelia, along with many other collectors and amazing examples of rare and high-end collectible cars from around the world