Seven days and 385 miles was the distance between two very different concours events. The first event was held on Amelia Island, which might as well be in Georgia. The second event was in Miami, which might as well be in South America. They had cars at both events but that’s where the similarity ends.
Miami has become the financial center of South America. Because money knows no political boundaries, cash from all over the world floods into Miami every day. That makes Miami one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, which in turn leads to a very exciting car scene.
When Emerson Fittipaldi, Valentino Balboni and Paolo PininFarina drop in on your car show you know you’re doing something special. When the show organizers bring in an F1 simulator and offer a $10,000 cash prize for the best driver you know you’re not at Pebble Beach.
Jay Pollak, a co-producer of the Miami Beach Concours, points out that “While we are upholding some of the traditional elements of what a Concours is, we are dedicated to elevating the concours experience in a unique and impactful way.”
A Miami Beach concours is beyond unique. Especially the hotel bill you’ll encounter. The Hampton Inn on Collins Avenue is $600 a night. Yes – the Hampton Inn. I didn’t say Ritz Carlton did I? The advantage of staying at the Hampton Inn is that it’s only a five-minute drive to the Miami Beach Country Club – on Sunday morning. The same trip on a weekday might take an hour.
Parking was the second unique experience. Parking in Miami Beach is at such a premium that all the attendees to the show had to use valet parking at the Miami Beach Country Club. Now imagine several thousand people trying to get their cars upon leaving the show. That was not a fun experience for anyone.
The smart people who attend this show use Uber. Uber is so popular that on the Sunday of the show they were actually using surge pricing to take you from your hotel to the show grounds. It was worth it.
You can never forget that this show is really about South Beach. Just walking down Collins Avenue you’ll have Miami Vice flashbacks. You quickly realize that you should have brought your Armani jacket. This is a community that dresses for dinner.
It’s critical that you make some sort of fashion statement while ordering overpriced wine and food.
If you attend many car shows during the year you’re familiar with the old-white-guy syndrome. Whenever a small group of collector car owners gather there is always some talk about how the hobby is in trouble because we don’t see any young people. That’s simply not the case in Miami. The owners at the Miami Beach Concours are probably about twenty-five years younger than the group that hangs out at the Amelia Concours or the other major North American events.
The car hobby is alive and well on South Beach. It’s also an experience that’s just a little different from the average car show. And that may be the reason it’s so successful.