Car enthusiasts are a hearty bunch, and that was proven with rows of cars and hundreds of people coming out to experience the 2023 Ponte Vedra Auto Show despite a cool and misty day on the First Coast.
One of the many who endured the elements was Henry Wilkinson of Atlantic Beach, and it paid off as his 1958 Porsche Speedster was named the show’s “best in class” winner.
According to Wilkinson, the car has quite the story to go along with its sleek and retro styling.
“This is an old race car that was built by Miles Collier of the Collier Collection and was raced for years, including being an SCCA National car and it was recently restored and brought back to its original color,” Wilkinson said. “We couldn’t be happier with it, and it is just wonderful and everything you would expect.”
Wilkinson’s appreciation for the car and its history is even more special and hits home with him having a racing background as well, as he began road racing in 1980 and he raced more than 12 years.
He won his first SCCA National race for Sports Renault in 1984 and set the course record at the final Buckhorn Mountain hill climb that was ever run. He is a member of the Road Racing Drivers Club.
Wilkinson is not new to car shows and it was not his first time claiming the top prize at the Ponte Vedra Auto Show.
“I’ve shown at Amelia (Concours d’Elegance) like 20 times, and I won this show about 10 or 12 years ago with a 289 Cobra,” Wilkinson said.
His years of doing car shows have also taught him that no day is ever the same, which is what makes it so interesting.
“I’ve learned a long time ago that with car shows, that there’s no way to know or anticipate so I always go in with very low expectations,” Wilkinson said. “If it goes well, it goes well, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
However, it proved to be his day, as his Porsche stood out in the eyes of the judges.
“The quality of that car helped the judges decide that it was the best car,” Ponte Vedra Auto Show director Justin Felker said. “We didn’t go on anything else, not value or sentimental value, but we just simply said, ‘That’s the best.’”
Although Wilkinson got his start in the car world as a race driver, he credits Bill Warner for getting him involved with showing cars and the collector side of things when he started the Ameila Island Concours d’Elegance in 1996.
“Now that racing is over, it’s nice to be able to do this and stay in the car world,” Wilkinson said. “Everybody definitely knows everybody.”
According to Wilkinson, he continues to be amazed at the car culture that exists and continues to develop in the northeast Florida area.
“It’s big and days like today show that,” Wilkinson said.
While some cars are strictly for shows, that is not the case for Wilkinson and his Porsche, as he intends to drive it around and enjoys cruising it up and down State Road A1A down to St. Augustine and back on sunny weekend afternoons.