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Inaugural ModaMiami concours attracts the big collectors


The venue for ModaMiami, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, is just 15 minutes from Miami International Airport. It’s a venue with a great history in the city, having been built in 1925 at a cost of $10 million, paired with a Donald Ross-designed 18-hole golf course. The imposing Biltmore, inspired by Mediterranean architecture, soon became known for its fashion shows, aquatic displays in its large outdoor pool, gala balls and world-class golf tournaments. During World War Two, and right up to 1968, it served as a hospital, and it didn’t reopen as a hotel until 1987 – then to be fully restored in 1992.

It’s a striking venue for a top-end car event, and ModaMiami set things up well with cars on the front lawn and to the side of the building, and glass-cased watch and handbag displays in the grand lobby. On the other side of the lobby is a grand terrace, which overlooks the golf course – which is where the concours took place. This made for a great view of the event and stage, and a perfect place to relax with a drink during the show, setting the scene for a relaxed but vibrant event. Live music throughout added to the very Miami vibe.

Around 150 cars were spread out over the show field, with a further display of RM Sotheby’s auction cars to one side. On the Sunday, these were added to by a further 100 supercars and hypercars – very Miami. The quality was extremely high, with several cars not usually seen in the concours world, and plenty of gems, such as noted Ohio-based collector Harry Yeaggy’s genuine Goldfinger movie Aston Martin DB5, complete with the original Bond gadgets, Anne Brockinton Lee’s striking Duesenberg Model SJ ‘Fishtail’ Speedster, Roberto Quiroz’s one-of-two-produced Ferrari 365 P ‘Tre Posti’ Berlinetta Speciales, the Triple F Collection’s McLaren Solus GT and – perhaps the most remarkable of all – Mercedes Heritage’s Juan Manuel Fangio W196 R grand prix car (below), flown in from Germany.

They were divided into 20 classes, the biggest of which was Shelby 101, which included – of course – Cobras and Shelby Mustangs, as well as Sunbeam Tigers and even a Shelby-prepared Toyota 2000GT race car. There were also classes for 70 years of the 300 SL Gullwing, 60 years of the Lamborghini, 60 years of the Porsche 911, Ferrari competition cars and many more. In terms of thoroughbred appeal, the lead class was The Winner’s Circle of eight former Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show cars – although the eight cars were initially placed around the show field rather than all together. With a technical hitch delaying all the cars’ display boards on the first day, the full impact of the Pebble Beach cars in particular was diluted a little on the Saturday but they were swiftly rearranged for the Sunday.

Both Friday and Saturday saw the RM Sotheby’s auctions take place, which would previously have been based at Amelia Island. The relatively small sale room was packed, which raises the question of whether a larger room or temporary structure will be needed in future years, and the auction itself was successful, as you can read about here. Other highlights including stage appearances by Magnus Walker, Cam Ingram, Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger, while a Concours de Nuit party on the Saturday night, at $650 a ticket, complete with a synchronised swimming pool performance by the Aqualillies, extended the first full day of the concours.

Sunday was the big day, with those 100 extra supercars and hypercars adding greatly to the show field. This was the day when the awards, voted on a peer-to-peer basis, were given out. The People’s Choice Award was presented to the much-admired 1998 McLaren F1 LM-Specification shown from a private collection, and the Participant’s Award, the Best of Show Field as voted by entrants, was awarded to the 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Mormon Meteor shown by Harry Yeaggy.

“The goal for ModaMiami’s inaugural year was to cultivate our unique culture and atmosphere while establishing the weekend as a key event across the industry,” said Rob Myers, CEO and chairman of RM Sotheby’s. “Thanks to the wonderful attendees, our hard-working team, and the incredible sponsors, vendors and local officials, we accomplished that goal. The event was a huge success, and we can’t wait to continue raising the bar for years to come.”

ModaMiami proved to be significantly different from The Amelia, despite the events’ rivalry. With an emphasis on fine dining – by famed Italian American restaurateur Mario Carbone – and luxury experiences for the VIP guests, plus a chilled vibe to the show field, it felt classy and relaxed. The ModaMiami Cruise, and the chance to drive on the track at the nearby Concours Club, added to the appeal for entrants and guests alike.

It felt as though this first ModaMiami needed more visitors, but for an inaugural show it’s a stunning addition to the event calendar. Where it will score highly in future is the convenience of the nearby airport and the abundance of reasonably priced (for Miami) hotels nearby. For visitors and collectors, it’s a huge shame that it clashed with The Amelia. Will it do so again? Rob Myers told the Robb Report that “…When we went to the Biltmore, it was one of the very few dates available” – which begs the question of whether next year’s ModaMiami could land on a different date. That would be a win-win for all of us.

For more information about ModaMiami, click here.

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