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The 17th-annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance takes place this weekend, March 9-11. The car list for the show reads like a museum roster, particularly a movie museum.
Natalie Wood's Mercedes-Benz 300 SL will be joined by Ginger Rogers's 1929 Duesenberg and a Supercharged Cord owned by Tom Mix.
In the 1920s and '30s, Duesenberg became the Hollywood ride of choice for stars such as Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power and Clark Gable. But Rogers's car was special. It was the first Murphy-bodied Model J Convertible Coupe and the first from Murphy to feature a disappearing top. The original reptile-patterned leather is gone, but current owner John Groendyke of Enid, Okla., replicated the original hides. Only 481 Model Js were ever built.
The car was a star as well. The Duesy appeared in the 1933 film The Gay Divorcee. It was the second of the Ginger Rogers-and-Fred Astaire musicals.
“Duesenbergs have a physical presence,” Amelia Island concours founder Bill Warner said. “Ginger's stands out even in a group of Duesenbergs.”
Mix was one of Hollywood's original cowboy movie stars. It has been said that the Pennsylvania-born actor almost singlehandedly created the Western movie genre. His car of choice was a 1937 Supercharged 812 Convertible. Mix had an extremely rare version known as the coffin-nose Cord. Mix was killed in the car in 1940, traveling at nearly 80 mph and missing signs that read, “Bridge under construction.”
The car has gone through several caretakers since then and is now owned by Bob White of Scottsdale, Ariz. White bought the car in 2010 before beginning a thorough 18-month frame-off restoration. White says the car now looks as it did 15 minutes before the accident.
The restoration was meticulous. Exact reproductions of Mix's dashboard-mounted holster and oversized accelerator pedal—to accommodate cowboy boots—were fabricated. Hand-cast medallions, given to Mix by the King of Denmark, are placed as they were in 1940.
“The 812 Cord is a rare, technologically advanced and extraordinarily desirable,” Warner said. “The Tom Mix Cord is the most famous of the breed. It's a true destination car, the kind hard-core classic-car enthusiasts will travel hundreds of miles to see.”
By the 1950s, a new type of car had become a Hollywood favorite. Mercedes' 300SL won Le Mans in 1952 and was the new flagship for the German brand. Wood's 300SL didn't stand out enough, so she had it painted pink. That, combined with the red interior, made it certain that the young star of Miracle on 34th Street and Rebel Without a Cause was noticed on the streets of Hollywood. Wood's SL will compete in the 300SL class at the concours honoring the 60th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz's first Le Mans win.
Today the car is covered in the traditional silver-blue color after a restoration that made certain all of the details are period correct. The dash gets a Becker radio, and the glovebox is filled with ownership documents. Even the hose clamps were replaced to restore the roadster to showroom condition.
Those are just three of the hundreds of rare and exotic cars that are expected to be at Amelia Island. The show will also see the most successful Cobra Daytona Coupe that was built for the 1964 and 1965 World Championship, and a controversial experimental Corvette created by Zora Arkus-Duntov.
Online sales are now closed, but tickets still can be purchased at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, the Amelia Island Chamber of Commerce and at the gate on the day of the show. Tickets at the gate cost $60 for adults and $35 for kids. For more information, check out www.ameliaconcours.org.
Jake Lingeman - Jake Lingeman is Road Test Editor at Autoweek, reviewing cars, reporting on car news, car tech and the world at large.
Source : http://autoweek.com/article/amelia-island-concours-delegance-feature-hollywood-cars
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