Beyond Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival


Odds are good that if you’re local, you just refer to it as “Concours.” As in, “You going to Concours?” (The correct response to which is, of course, yes).

But there’s a reason why the event we so casually shorten has a mouthful of a title: Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival. That’s because the Concours itself, a parade of stunningly elegant vehicles before a panel of judges, is just a small part of the weeklong celebration of automotive refinement and excitement.


Head Island Concours07If you look at the full slate of events, the name is almost too short. But you’ll forgive them for not calling it “Hilton Head Island and Savannah Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival & Aeronautic Expo & Overall Amazing Party for Locals and Visitors.” It would certainly be more descriptive, but it just wouldn’t fit on the sign.

The Cars

The heart of the event is, of course, the automobile and the unique place it holds in the American psyche. As such, its fitting that the event begins with the roar of engines and the screech of tires as Grand Prix race cars take to the track Oct. 26-28 on Hutchinson Island for the Savannah Speed Classic.

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More than just another race, this intimate event puts you in the pits to see the action up close. Head out for a day or make the weekend of it and explore Savannah in between races. When you walk the streets of the Hostess City’s historic squares, you’ll realize why Grand Prix was born here. It all kicks off with a Pace Part on Oct. 25 in City Market.

It’s a great warmup to the main event, which begins with the Car Club Showcase on Nov. 3 on Hilton Head. Representing a cross-section of astounding automobiles from around the country, the greens and fairways of Port Royal Golf Club will host nearly 200 cars of every kind imaginable. Everything from antique horseless carriages to classic American horsepower will be represented.

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In addition to the Car Club Showcase, both days of the festival will see special exhibitions focusing on particular eras and models. “Life Along the Orient Express” takes you back to the glory days of European engineering, offering a selection of vehicles that reflect a bygone era of sophistication and luxury. And the “40 Years of BMW M1” exhibition will celebrate a line that BMW intended to be the “foremost expression of its automotive art.”

It all comes to a head with the Concours d’Elegance on Nov. 4. Be there to see which classic car takes home the coveted Best in Show title from a panel of experts.

By Air and By Sea

Of course, the cars are the stars of the show. But the supporting cast of gorgeous airplanes and boats is what truly makes this a can’t-miss event.

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Start with the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala on Nov, 2, which pairs Concours automobiles with elegant vintage aircraft from the Golden Age of aviation. Relive the era when the skies belonged to the wealthy and fabulous during a black-tie gala that lets you tour these amazing aircraft and enjoy some of the finest cuisine Hilton Head has to offer.

Head Island Concours08There will even be a few craft on hand that were built for the defense of freedom, including World War II-era planes like the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and full dual control P-51 Mustangs. You’ll be able to tour them as part of the gala, but what’s better than simply poking your head around? Going up in one of these fearsome machines. The Wings of Freedom Tour will run Nov. 2-4 and take you up for a 30- or 60-minute flight around Hilton Head.

And as part of the festival, the “On the Water” exhibit will showcase the artistry of aquatic horsepower with a selection of boats and watercraft that represent the pinnacle of engineering. From sleek speedboats to elegant wood-crafted luxury cruisers, you’ll see some of the most dazzling boats sailing the seven seas.

The Party Starts Here

Of course, one crucial word in that lengthy name is “festival,” and in that respect Concours lives up to Hilton Head’s reputation.

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The morning of Nov. 3 will see a gathering of some of the automotive community’s most esteemed names for the third annual SCM Insider’s Seminar. Led by Sports Car Market magazine publisher Keith Martin, a panel of experts will weigh in on the classic car market and the trends that are shaping it. If you’re new to collecting or if you have a garage full of vintage cars, it’s a rare chance to talk to some of the collecting world’s brightest minds.

And it wouldn’t be a Hilton Head festival without a few tasty beverages. The Virgil Kaine Classics Bar will be hosting the afterparty on Nov. 3 with a lineup of Carolina cocktails from Virgil Kaine and Tito’s to get your motor running.

The big names come out later that night during AutoWeek’s Design Among the Stars soiree at the South Carolina Yacht Club. Helping to raise funds for Driving Young America, this event will let you dine among famed automotive designers as Bob Boniface of Buick, Ian Callum from Jaguar, Moray Callum of Ford and Jay Ward from Pixar.

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Just Concours? Hardly. This is a week of automotive excitement that can’t be contained to just one event.


Pace Lap Party
5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 25
City Market
Cost: Free

Speed Classic Qualifiers
8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 26
The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa
Cost: $10; online discount available through Oct. 15

Savannah Speed Classic
8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 27 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 28
​The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa
Cost: $15-$30; online discount available through Oct. 15

Speed Classic Kidz Zone
8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 27 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 28
​The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa
Cost: Included with Speed Classic ticket 


Wings of Freedom Tour
2-4 p.m. Nov. 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 3, and 9-4 p.m. Nov. 4
Signature Flight Support, Hilton Head Island Airport, 52 Gateway Circle
Cost: $5-$15 for tours; $450-$3,200 for flights

Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala
7-10 p.m. Nov. 2
General Aviation, Hilton Head Island Airport 
Cost: $175-$3,000

Third Annual SCM Insider’s Seminar
9 a.m. Nov. 3
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa
Cost: $25

Car Club Showcase
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 3
​Port Royal Golf Club
Cost: $55; online discount available through Oct. 15

Aero Expo
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 3
General Aviation, Hilton Head Island Airport
Cost: Included with Car Club Showcase ticket

Satisfy Your Thirst After-Party
4-6 p.m. Nov. 3
​Port Royal Golf Club
Cost: Included with Car Club Showcase ticket​

Autoweek's Design Among the Stars
6:30 p.m. Nov. 3
South Carolina Yacht Club
Cost: $375

Concours d'Elegance
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 4
Port Royal Golf Club
Cost: $60; online discount available through Oct. 15