Car fans flock to final day of festival as top awards are named

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Car fans flock to final day of festival as top awards are named

By CASSIE FOSS
cfoss@islandpacket.com
Published Monday, November 7, 2011   |  600 Words  |  

A labor of love for one Bluffton couple paid off Sunday when the family's 1936 Auburn 852 Speedster won the "People's Choice" award at the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival.

The Speedster, a crowd favorite that garnered enough to win the award from the approximately 547 votes cast Sunday afternoon, has been in his family for 49 years, owner Charles Mistele said.

Though he purchased the Speedster in 1972 from his father, who owned it for 10 years, the former Detroit resident only began restoring the classic model about three years ago at the request of his wife, Diane.

"Honestly, Diane was facing an operation and she said, "I want you to do it now,'" Charles Mistele said. "It was important to her that I get it done. My dad would be so proud."

The bright red Speedster, the sixth last of the kind to be made, reached speeds of 101.2 mph on a factory test drive, according to a plaque on the dash.

Mistele recently took it out on the road for the first time in 35 years.

"We plan to keep it in the family," he said.

The Honey Horn event has become a premiere stop in the country for the Concours touring car show.

This year's 10th annual Concours d'Elegance was held over nine days -- Oct. 27 to Nov. 6. It has evolved into the second most lucrative event on the island after the RBC Heritage PGA Tour event.

Last year's festival attracted a record crowd of 13,000.

This year, pre-event online ticket sales were up nearly 40 percent compared to last year's motoring festival, organizers said.

On Sunday, event spokeswoman Lindsey Harrell said final sales numbers were not yet available, but organizers expected a surge in last-minute ticket sales.

"Collectively this year, we've had the best group of cars we've ever had," Harrell said. "It seems like it will be a record year. The great feedback we've had from vendors, presenters and attendees has been overwhelming."

More than 500 automobiles on display at Honey Horn over the weekend were show-stoppers, but only a handful at the motoring festival got to drive away with the prestigious event's top awards.

Sunday's Concours d'Elegance top honor, "Best of Show," was awarded to a 1937 BMW 328 Roadster.

First owned by famous German race driver Baron Fritz Huschke von Hanstein, the original cost was $2,792. With the Baron at the wheel in 1938 and 39, the car saw many wins famous tracks such as the Hockenheim, LeMans and Gorssglockner Hill Climb.

The car disappeared during World War II, but later resurfaced in 1953 when a U.S. GI brought it to the United States.

Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.com.

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