Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
4/3/18 10:29 a.m.
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During the week leading up to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, we once again hosted the Orange Blossom Tour. It’s our answer to the evergreen question of: “Where can I have fun driving my car?” This all-inclusive road tour is open to sports and GT cars of any era, with every arrangement taken care of and free loaner cars (courtesy of BMW) available. We offer immediate roadside assistance, with a dedicated tow truck and service personnel behind us every mile of the drive. We even take care of your luggage, transporting it each day and placing it in your hotel room each night.

This year’s Orange Blossom Tour followed a more northerly route than in years past, starting at the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort before winding its way down to St. Augustine’s historic Casa Monica hotel. Along the way, participants enjoyed a private visit of the John Campion collection–a fantastic showcase of everything Lancia, from the race-winning Group B rally cars to the kitted-out van that acted as the team’s mobile workshop. They also spent the afternoon in historic downtown St. Augustine, shopping and visiting the half-millennium-old Spanish fort that protects the town.

Day two brought perfect weather (high-60s and sunny skies), and tour participants departed St. Augustine with wide smiles on their faces. The day’s route took them down twisty roads through picturesque Florida farmland and along bright-blue lakes. Cars as common as a Porsche Boxster and as exotic as a Morgan Aero 8 were twisting from corner to corner like prize-fighters in the ring. The group then visited the secret collection of National Parts Depot, where there’s one thing that brings every car–from brass-era survivors to the newest manufacturer concepts–together: Mileage. Almost every car in the collection is an unrestored, low-mileage survivor. That evening, the group took a break from historic hotels and stayed at the newly renovated Gainesville Hilton, and at dinner that evening we actually heard one participant remark that they were actually regretting ordering the Filet Mignon three nights in a row!

For the third day, the tour stopped to smell the roses. Or, well, orange blossoms, as it visited the home and orange groves of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. We took a private tour of the famous writer’s early Florida home. From there, we wound our way through horse country to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital and an amazing city built at the beginning of the state’s modern history. Guests were treated to dinner at the Governor’s Club, a private Tallahassee icon that serves its steak rare and its politicians with lined pockets.

Day four was the final day before our tour’s arrival at Amelia Island for the concours, so we pulled out all the stops. Some of the best driving yet brought guests to historic Pebble Hill Plantation, just north of the Florida line into Georgia. The hisotric property dates to 1896, and truly embodies the most beautiful aspects of the South. From there it was more backroads and pretty country all the way to Amelia Island, where many of our guests chose to stay for the concours weekend.

This year’s Orange Blossom Tour was well-attended, and almost every participant was a past tour guest that jumped at the opportunity to return. If you’d like to make your next vacation one of our tours, we’d love to have you. Details for our next tour (this June) can be found at smokymountaintour.com, while the Orange Blossom Tour will return for March 2019. Signup for both tours is open now, and each is limited to just 25 cars to maintain its intimate atmosphere.

This tour couldn't happen without the support of Hagerty, Reliable Carriers, Automotive Restorations, BMW and the BMW Car Club of America Foundation.

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