Kiawah car show organizers gear up promotions for first Concours d’Elegance at River Course this fall

A vintage racer and Corvette convertible are side by side at Kiawah Island’s River Course. The golf layout will host the Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat’s Concours d’Elegance car show this November (Provided).


The Post and Courier

“Concours” in automotive circles refers to a competition among owners on the appearance of their tonneaus, laundalettes, tourers, er … cars.

Not part of the definition but implied is the fest’s social side, whether it’s a splashy concours d’elegance (competition of elegance) or a more muted gathering.

So it was fitting that the promotional launch for this year’s Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat was a cocktail party — held May 25 at Gordon King’s Johns Island home wit his notable collection of cars and motorcycles serving as a backdrop.

The retreat will be Nov. 15-17 at the River Course on Kiawah Island and will feature at least 75 “classic, collectable, antique, exotic and special interest cars,” according to the event website.

“With its clubhouse nestled on an ancient bluff surrounded by large live oaks, the River Course offers views of the Kiawah River, picturesque marsh savannas, ponds and the island’s incomparable maritime forests,” retreat organizers noted.

“This will be a weekend event including a gala Friday night, judged concours-quality car show Saturday and a Sea Island driving tour Sunday,” said Keller Staubes, retreat chairman.

The three-day show originally was to take place in May but was moved due to a scheduling conflict.

The motoring retreat debuted in spring 2012 at Night Heron Park with a moderate-sized, one-day event, transitioning from its predecessor show known as Cars in the Park. Even then, plans were in the works to ramp up the retreat while relocating to one of the island’s posh golf courses.

The motoring retreat is not the first concours to take place on a golf course. Arguably the best-known Concours d’Elegance in the U.S. is at Pebble Beach on the northern California oceanfront. The Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, also this fall, is relocating to the prestigious Port Royal Golf Club.

According to the Kiawah event’s website at, the retreat’s show competition will consist of two divisions, the Concours and the Classic.

The classic group will include automobiles from 1974 and earlier. A selection committee will take into account “overall condition and appearance, as well as rarity and historical significance” in making its choices.

The division will not be formally judged, but awards will be presented including People’s Choice and the Mayor’s Trophy.

By contrast, the Concours division will be “evaluated by a panel of expert judges” at the retreat’s Nov. 16 “main event,” the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Concours d’Elegance on the 18th hole of the River Course.

There are two classes, “Pre-War Open Closed Sports and Racing” and “Post War (1945-1974) Open Closed Sports and Racing.”

Concours automobiles will be judged based on “authenticity, state of preservation or restoration, historical significance and elegance.”

Each class winner becomes a candidate for the top award: “Best of Show- Concours d’Elegance,” according to the website.

Advance tickets are $20. They’re $25 the day of the show.

The Friday gala at Kiawah Island Club’s River Course is $100 a person and includes dinner and a car show preview. Sunday’s “Sea Island Road Tour” will include a “route with clues.” More details are forthcoming.

A portion of the motoring retreat’s proceeds go to the MUSC Children’s Hospital Fund and Kiawah Conservancy.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or