How to enjoy The Amelia with your classic car

What do you mostly see cruising around Amelia Island during the concours week? SUVs. Pickup trucks. More SUVs.

We get it: They’re comfortable, practical and don’t melt when they get wet. CarPlay is wonderful. So are heated and cooled seats.

But what about doing Amelia in something a bit more, you know, classic?

This year, we spent the entire Amelia weekend in our 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera project car. Too new to be considered a classic? It’s 40 years old. How time flies, right?

Here’s how we attacked the weekend–and how it all went.


Step 1: Pick the right car

The Porsche 911 just works as a real car for an event: There’s room for modern-sized adults and their stuff–not all of their stuff, but enough of their stuff.

A 911 is also quick enough to run with that modern, CarPlay-enjoying traffic. That’s a biggie for us. It can be hard to relax when you’re pedaling as fast as you can to keep ahead of a Kia minivan. (A fine vehicle, by the way.)


Step 2: Get it sorted

Before shoving off, we worked on sorting the car: lights–all of them–plus horn. Did the turn signals work? Basically, we fixed the little things that needed fixing.

Our brakes were fresh: new pads, rotors and lines.

How were the tires? The date codes said that our Yokohamas were about 4 years old–still a little time before reaching the expiration date–and all sported nearly full tread. We checked pressures.

One job that made a huge difference: replacing the front trunk struts. On a 911, they go for $10 or $20 each. Being able to easily load and unload–no more stick, no more balancing the lid on a shoulder–makes a car feel more like a real car.

What about air conditioning? Ours doesn’t exactly blow cold, but we figured things wouldn’t get too hot that weekend. (We guessed right.)


Step 3: Be prepared

What to pack just in case? A full tool kit?

Since the Porsche had been recently serviced–thank you, Autobahn Daytona–we took it easy and carried a light load: the factory tool kit plus some emergency flares and a reflective vest. A few fuses and modules have been known to stop an early 911, so we always have spares in the car.

[Preflight check: The key to a better driving adventure]

We figured that plan, plus roadside assistance and a cell phone, should cover most emergencies. Plus, we’d be less than 2 hours from home.


Step 4: Get some GPS

A while back we installed the Porsche Classic Radio offered by Porsche Classic. It provides GPS-based navigation via its center screen, yet thanks to the head unit’s two knobs, it looks period-correct.

[Project 911: Installing a Porsche Classic Navigation System]

One small issue: Thanks to the design of the dash, the radio sits way low–a bit too low for us to easily reach. Plus, that screen is a bit small. Blame our eyes.

An easy solution? A few years ago, we picked up a Panavise PortaGrip Phone Holder with Windshield Mount via Amazon for about $20. It now retails for a few bucks more. Either way, we’d still recommend it as it securely holds our phone right where we can see it.

To power the phone, we stuck a USB adaptor into the cigarette lighter. Which USB adaptor? A free one that we got as a promotional piece.


Step 5: Enter something

The Amelia weekend is more than just Sunday’s concours, so why not find something to do with your car? Basically, go from spectator to participant.

We entered two events with our Porsche: Radwood as well as our own Amelia Island Kickoff presented by Sunoco. We would have liked to also participate in PCA’s Werks Reunion, but it just didn’t work with our schedule.

There’s room for just about every kind of collector car that weekend. Find something and join in.

Is it cool and neat? We have our Kickoff.

Is it a Porsche? PCA does its Werks Reunion.

Is from the ’80s or ’90s? Radwood could be your place.

Is it kinda weird? Concours d’Lemons, which now shares the lawn with our Kickoff, is your jam.


Step 6: Pack smart

An early Porsche 911 carries a bit less than a new Lexus SUV, so you’ve gotta pack accordingly. Plus, we had camera gear to bring. A carry-on bag perfectly fits in the trunk. You got this.


Step 7: Accept the fact that it’s going to get wet

Just gotta deal with it, right? Our 911 doesn’t leak, and the wiper blades were fresh (enough).

Even though we weren’t bringing a classic BMX bike this year, we were leaving the rack on the roof. Some of the hardware had gotten a bit crusty, though. Fortunately, we had spares on hand.

A tip from Carl Heideman: Before installing that new hardware, paint it black. For extra protection, we also applied some wax to it. Belt and suspenders, right?


Step 8: Clean it up

Before shoving off for Amelia, we did Tim McNair’s 1-hour detail regimen: quick detail, synthetic clay bar, ceramic wax. Okay, we spent a little more than an hour, but you get the picture. For details on our pre-show prep, watch this video:


Step 9: Go have fun

Now we could head to the big show.

How’d it go? Awesome.

We had fun. We enjoyed our car. People smiled when they saw us.

Yes, the car got wet. No, it didn’t melt.

The car again welcomed a steady stream of visitors at Radwood–impressive since we were parked next to a Ferrari 308. A lot of people had a story about a 911: Either they have one, wanted one, or knew someone with one. Or they knew someone who wanted one. Well, you get the idea.

The 911 has always been rather approachable. Kids also seem to get it. Maybe because it looks like a sporty Beetle–which some say it is.

We had trouble getting away from the car to take in the rest of the show. We’d call that a good problem to have.

To tip the odds in our favor while out and about in Amelia, we parked smartly: at the end of the row and/or simply away from everyone else. It’s good to get in those steps, right?

A related odd encounter regarding that plan: We stopped at a local supermarket to change from Radwood clothes to nice clothes so we could attend an evening social. While about to change shirts, a well-meaning individual noticed the open trunk and stopped to render assistance: Is everything okay? Engine’s in the back, we said, while coolly changing shirts in a parking lot.

The biggest take-home from all of this, though: Instead of going as spectators, we were now part of the big weekend.

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