Reportage: Amelia Island 2023 : Pebblino at the season opener

The more than 500 hp V12 engine roars deafeningly as the white flounder slowly makes its way to the Ritz Carlton Hotel's driveway.

Reportage: Amelia Island 2023 : Pebblino at the season opener

The more than 500 hp V12 engine roars deafeningly as the white flounder slowly makes its way to the Ritz Carlton Hotel's driveway. Elsewhere, those around you would put your hands over your ears, shake your head uncomprehendingly and maybe even summon hotel managers or law enforcement officers. But exactly they stare at each other after the racing car. Pebble Beach's little brother on Florida's northeast coast, Amelia Island once again has its own laws. Over the decades, the season opener on the American classic car scene has become the meeting place for car fans. If you are self-respecting, you will be on the peninsula in northern Florida on the first weekend in March. Everything is a little smaller here, a little more informal than in Pebble Beach, where the most important car event of the year takes place in the third week of August. The roaring twelve-cylinder falls silent – ​​the mobile phone cameras click all the more wildly. The right-hand door of the Porsche 917 opens upwards and long-distance legend Derek Bell climbs out of his racing car with some difficulty and checks into the hotel. The fans are excited.

Modeled on Pebble Beach, Amelia Island has now become a modern-day auto show. No stuffy exhibition halls, no exhibition stands lit up as bright as day or gigantic screens on which CEOs present their latest products based on Motoroma models. Amelia is different. Frank van Meel, head of BMW M GmbH, chats nonchalantly on the golf course stage while the cloth is pulled from the refreshed X5 and X6 models. A few short pieces of information about the cars, the market and the situation - one is more than satisfied, looks back on a record year and the program continues. Events like in Amelia Island as a successor to classic car shows are on the rise. Because in addition to the countless classics from Ferrari, BMW, Porsche, Ford and Alfa Romeo, there are more and more new cars to admire on the Amelia 2023 golf course - and most of them are electric.

BMW is showing its luxury SUV XM, General Motors is putting its Hummer EV in the limelight, letting fans sniff the luxury model Celestiq for the first time and Polestar is also giving its latest electric vehicles a big stage with a show and test drives in the luxury enclave. Even if electromobility in the sunny state of Florida has so far been much more difficult than in other regions of the USA, the new models in Amelia Island don't do much without a plug. If not purely electric, then at least a plug-in hybrid like the BMW XM with more than 650 hp and an electric range of 80 kilometers. The thousands of attendees at the Amelia Island Auto Festival are open as only Americans can be. Classic or new, roaring combustion engine or plug-in hybrid, historic VW Bulli with chain drive or surrendering VW ID4 - not far from the dune landscape with a view of the sky that is not always blue, there is no fear of contact. The day before the big Porsche gathering and a horde of Tesla fans have descended on Amelia from the Gulf Coast. In the evening there is a barbecue or you can meet at Baxster's Steakhouse.

"My son will soon be 26," says the grey-haired man with a polo shirt, cap and sneakers at the pedestrian crossing, "it's about time I bought him his first Ferrari." The similarly dressed neighbor looks surprised: "He doesn't have one yet? What sounds like a poorly staged conversation from an afternoon soap comes as no surprise here. The Floridian coastal landscape is rich, senior and one who takes good care of oneself and loved ones. Just one more test drive in the electric luxury model of the Cadillac Lyriq and then straight on to the auction at RM Auctions in the hotel – reservations from the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow? Nothing and stereotyped thinking is an impossibility, at least when it comes to cars. Radiant classics such as the Mercedes 300 SL, Porsche 356 or an unrestored BMW 507 stand side by side alongside newcomers such as McLaren Artura, Lucid Air, Bentley Bentayga PHEV or Rolls-Royce Phantom.

A blue 1965 Aston Martin DB5 is currently being auctioned off at RM Auctions for more than $1.3 million. Here a Jaguar E-Type, there a Saab 95 Station Wagon and even an unspectacular Porsche Boxster from 2000 changes ownership for almost $40,000. Then a relaxed drink before the evening program begins. Luckily the rain has stopped and we are off to a luxury manufacturer's barbecue and closed room party. After all, it's also about winning fans as customers and ultimately writing orders - here too, increasingly not only for the classics, but also for the new models. And they increasingly have a plug, at least on the stretch of coast north of Jacksonville. Many have been familiar with electric drives for some time anyway – from golf carts.