Michael Witt relaxed in a captain’s chair as dress-casual attendees glimpsed at the black 1953 Packard Caribbean a few feet away.
He was at Kiawah Island’s River golf course to display the uncommonly luxurious convertible, one of 750 built to recognize the Pan American Packard show car unveiled a year earlier.
The soft top was taking part in the Kiawah Island Concours d’Elegance, held Nov. 16 in its new venue at the River Course’s finishing hole.
The Packard’s owner befits a car brand known for its wealth and glamour. Sandy Lerner of Upperville, Va., co-founded Cisco Systems high-tech giant and, according to online site The Richest, boasts a $100 million net worth.
From the same town as the auto’s well-heeled collector, Witt gave the fledgling South Carolina concours high marks. “The weather was fantastic,” he said. “The staff put on a really nice show.”
The car enthusiast’s gracious tone was endorsed by fellow presenters and showgoers last Saturday.
They found the show, which drew about 80 cars, a bit small but well-represented. Headliners included a 1926 Bugatti T35T shown by Larry Wilson of Palm Beach, an Austrian-built 1938 Steyr and a rare 1928 Isotta Fraschini owned by collector Peter Boyle of Oil City, Pa. Don and Darby Wathne of Charleston brought two classic Rolls-Royces parked side-by-side, a 1911 Silver Ghost and a 1933 Phantom II.
Lerner wasn’t the only “name” collector. J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., chairman of Marriott International, displayed his 1938 Talbot Lago T150-C coupe, which was parked in front of a sand trap with the scenic Kiawah River in the distance.
“I think it’s small; I think there are very good cars here,” said Marty Williams of Charlotte. He said the golf course’s 18th hole was a “good venue. I think it will grow: 70 percent (of the cars) are local, which is very nice.”
Williams assisted Mount Airy, N.C., collector Lloyd Gillespie with his entrants, including an early model Shelby Mustang. “I help a lot of people with a lot of cars,” Williams said, describing his work.
He sees the Kiawah concours expanding in stature. “They started with good equipment,” Williams said. It’s something different.”
The Concours d’Elegance was the main event of the three-day Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat, which opened with a gala and concluded with a drive around the sea islands.
The event was separated into the concours class, the cream of the crop which vied for Best of Show; and the classic category, eligible for Mayor’s Choice and other special awards.
Among the larger turnouts was a contingent from the Coastal Carolina Corvette Club, including five women owners.
“The ones in the concours are great,” said Mishell Warren, one of the Corvette buffs. She said organizers are “working hard” to make the show an established feature. “It’s a beautiful location,” she said. “Once word gets out …”.
While most eventgoers did not primp for the concours, there were a few dapper dressers. Russ Crane of Kiawah Island, who showed his 1931 Ford Model A, wore a period hat with brown and beige sweater, knickers and argyle socks.
Elizabeth Spove and Charlie Masencup of Charleston were among the dozens of attendees who traveled to Kiawah Island for the midday classic show.
“It’s awesome,” said Massencup, while looking over the 1911 Rolls. Added Spove, “You couldn’t ask for a better day.”
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.