Conquering Concours — Stutz wins top-end Hilton Head Island car fest; 96-year-old South Carolina-built Anderson stands out

This article originally appeared in The Post & Courier, written by Jim Parker, on November 12, 2016.

Leading picks at a Lowcountry resort town’s yearly automotive formal hailed from the Carolinas, and a rare hardtop crafted in Rock Hill 96 years ago also starred at the event

A 1914 Stutz Bearcat open speedster won “Best of Show” at the 15th yearly Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, sharing center field with a 1956 Dodge Custom Royal as “People’s Choice” honoree and a sporty 63-year-old Italian model to mark one of the event’s original backers.

The concours wrapped up the six-day Hilton Head Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance, which began with the Savannah Speed Classic and included scores of exhibits on vintage, classic and unusual vehicles spread between Oct. 28 and Nov. 6.

Brian and Trish White of Apex, North Carolina, own the 102-year-old Stutz;  Douglas Dressler of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina claims the mint condition Dodge; and G. Larry and Patricia Wilson of Georgetown displayed their 1953 Maserati A6GCS, which took home the Paul Doerring Founders Award.

“The world-class hospitality and facilities of our venue, The Port Royal Golf Club, along with our newest additions have resulted in an even higher quality show field than in past years,” Vanagel said. The novel events included aircraft exhibits at the Hilton Head Island Airport and presentations with publishers Keith Martin of Sports Car Market and Dutch Mandel of Autoweek. Meanwhile, “this year’s winners truly point to our growth and success,” she says.

The motoring festival also saw Auctions America return for a second year. According to organizers, “one of the most exciting moments” was the sale of a 1957 Porsche 356A 1600 Speedster, which recently surfaced following more than 40 years storage in a Chicago-area garage. “Hotly contested by collectors in the room and on the phones, the time warp Porsche almost tripled its pre-sale high estimate at an incredible $665,500.” Elsewhere in the 103-car auction were a 1967 AC Shelby 427 Cobra purchased for $726,000, a 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition for $305,250 and a 1960 Maserati 3500 GT by Touring yielding a $222,750 bid.

More than 500 vehicles took part in the festival, which also drew “automotive icons” such as Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar Cars; Ralph Gilles, head of design for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.; J Mays, former chief designer, Ford Motor Co.; and Jay Ward, creative director of the “Cars” movie franchise through Pixar Animation Studios.

According to the Hilton Head vehicular fair, the yearly gathering of collectors, enthusiasts and visitors who appreciate the design, technology and beauty of memorable automobiles, boats and motorcycles stands as “one of the fastest growing automotive lifestyle events in the country.” The 16th Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance will be Oct. 27-Nov. 5, 2017. Go to www.HHIMotoringFestival.com.

Meanwhile, a Charleston connection developed with this year’s festival when experts officially recognized a 1920 Anderson Six Convertible Roadster to the National Historic Vehicle Register.

Paul and Kathleen Ianuario of Duncan own the car, built in Rock Hill and one of seven know survivors of South Carolina’s first automobile company, backers said.

“The recognition of the 1920 Anderson automobile represents an important aspect of the National Historic Vehicle Register – the recording and celebration of vehicles that are significant to our nation’s local and regional histories,” said Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association. “One hundred years of automotive industry in South Carolina is a significant milestone and we are grateful for the partnership with the College of Charleston and students that documented the 1920 Anderson automobile as an important part of our nation’s heritage,” he said.

College of Charleston students worked with the historic vehicle group to document the historical and regional significance of the Anderson and, notably, the 1920 model. They’re enrolled in the American Automotive History and Documentation course, which kicked off in September. The college’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning department oversees the course, believed to be the first automotive heritage documentation class to be offered in the United States, supporters said. College of Charleston students were on hand at Hilton Head Island through the backing of Harvey Geiger and Driving Young America.

Both at the HVA Laboratory in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and at a local Charleston park, students “conducted a detailed photographic study of Ianuario’s car to better understand the vehicle’s South Carolina-made materials and engineering components,” backers said.

Over a decade, about 5,500 Anderson cars were produced in Rock Hill going by the motto, “A little bit higher in price, but made in Dixie.” John Gary Anderson, the industrialist and inventor behind the company, was also a poet and sculptor, vehicle enthusiasts said. His cars featured numerous innovations, including an electric windshield wiper years before Ford offered the technology, they said.

The Anderson ranged in cost from $1,650 for the five-passenger touring car to $2,550 for the sedan, compared with a $345 to $760 price range for the contemporary Model T Ford.

“I’m delighted to have our 1920 Anderson Convertible Roadster recognized as a historically significant automobile,” Ianuario said. “I searched for this car for over 23 years and I’m pleased to be able to share this important example of South Carolina automotive history with the nation.”

For more information and photos, visit www.postandcourier.com/automotive.

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