Hilton Head Concours Names Pinnacle and Honored Collectors

The Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival has announced this year's Pinnacle and Honored Collectors for 2019.

The Pinnacle collectors are Clive & Janet Cussler, while the Honored Collector title will go to Walter Eisenstark.

Both parties will show a select group of automobiles at this year's show, on November 2 and 3, at the Port Royal Golf Club on Hilton Head Island. The Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival runs from October 24 through November 3.


Find the press release below, which lists the vehicles to be entered by the Pinnacle and Honored Collectors. 

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.– Each year the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing automotive and motorsports enthusiast events, features leading automotive collectors from around the world. Among the notable names that visitors and enthusiasts will encounter at the 2019 event are this year’s chosen Pinnacle and Honored Collectors, Clive & Janet Cussler and Walter Eisenstark, respectively. They will each bring several cars from their collections. The Pinnacle and Honored Collector exhibit, sponsored by Reliable Carriers, will be featured both Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, 2019, at the Port Royal Golf Club on Hilton Head Island.

Collectors are the lifeblood of who we are. Without their passion for preserving automotive heritage, we would not exist,” said Carolyn Vanagel, the event’s president. “And this year we are excited to name Clive and Janet Cussler, first-timers to our event, as this year’s Pinnacle Collector. They have dedicated themselves to the preservation of astounding rare and vintage automobiles from all over the world with the Cussler Museum in Arvada, CO, and Clive looks at the automobile like we do – as works of art worth showcasing. And in addition to sharing their private collection with our guests, they are supporting our charitable fund, Driving Young America, by auctioning off and “appearance” in Clive’s (a NY Times bestselling author more than 20 times) next book at Autoweek’s Design Among the Stars dinner on Saturday, November 2 at The Sea Pines Resort.”

Walter has been such a critical collector to our event,” said Merry Harlacher, chairman of the Hilton Head Island Concours. “It’s always been important to us to engage with local collectors and maintain a local presence at the event. Walter’s ongoing participation has helped make this event what it is – a display of incredible vehicles overlaid with our signature Southern hospitality. The local collectors, including Walter, are always so engaging with our attendees and help make this the ‘up close and personal’ experience we have become known for.”

2019 Pinnacle Award Collector: Clive & Janet Cussler (Paradise Valley, AZ)

The Pinnacle Award debuted in 2013 in conjunction with the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance’s move to the world-class Port Royal Golf Club. This year Clive and Janet Cussler, founders of the Cussler Museum (Arvada, CO) and the Janet Cussler Car Collection (Scottsdale, AZ), join fellow Pinnacle Award recipients Peter & Merle Mullin (2018), Ken Gross (2017), Miles Collier (2016), Fred Guyton (2015), Joseph and Margie Cassini (2014) and Sam and Emily Mann (2013). The Cusslers have hand-selected four incredible automobiles from their collection showcasing their love for old classic cars.


Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer of the American automotive industry, after whom the Oldsmobile and the REO brands were named. He claimed to have built his first steam car as early as 1887 and his first gasoline powered care in 1896. By 1911 Olds claimed he had built the best car he could, a tourer able to seat two, four, or five, with a 30-35 hp engine, 112-inch wheelbase and 32 inch wheels for $1055. That didn’t include a top, windshield or gas tank, which were $100 extra. A self-started was $25 on top of that.


Priced from $5,000 to a commanding $6,200, depending on the buyer’s choice of body style, the Pierce Model 48 was revered when new and perhaps even more so today it remains a mighty car, capable of carrying the most imposing coachwork and covering great distances with ease. This car is a seven-passenger touring, specially ordered without jump seats by Albert Swabacher. Mr. Swabacher was a banker who spent all available free time at a ranch he owned in the Teton Mountains. It was there that the Pierce was kept, used for chauffeured hunting and fishing trips. It is important to note the horn mounted on the left. While he utilized a chauffeur, Mr. Swabacher preferred to blast the car’s horn himself, and he would often do so to alert his staff the he had returned from yet another expedition into the wilderness.


When Cadillac introduced the V-16 engine and chassis in the fall of 1929, the car became the world’s number one status symbol. The Fleetwood bodies were stylish, excellently built, luxurious and comfortable. The company would make any changes to the car the customer desired. This car is style # 4380 All Weather Phaeton. It is the 175th of 250 made and features a V-windshield, body molding on the hood tops, wool broadcloth and coded fabric interior with burled wood trim and a set of Cadillac factor Pilot Ray driving lights. The wheel base is 148” and average weight including the body is 5,900 lbs.


The Cord Model 812 is considered by many sculptors and artists to be the most beautiful masterwork of mechanical art ever conceived. The brainchild of Gordon Buehrig, the automobile is unlike any that had come before. Fewer than three thousand Models 810 and 812 were built. The rarest was the convertible coupe, often referred to by collectors as the Sportsman. One 195 were manufactured and a mere 64 with superchargers. Receiving a research and complete nut and bolt restoration in 2006 by RM Restoration, the Cord was a winner at Pebble Beach in 2007.

2019 Honored Collector: Walter Eisenstark (Bluffton, SC)

Every year the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance recognizes one Honored Collector for his or her continued participation and support. The 2019 Honored Collector will feature the seven vehicles listed below, hand-picked from the collection of Walter Eisenstark.

1954 S.I.A.T.A. 200 CS 

Mr. Eisenstark’s family will have owned this car, one of 11 ever built with a body by Balbo and one of 18 built with a Fiat 1996 cc Flat V engine, for 60 years this September. On September 12, 1959 the car was purchased off of a used car lot in Queens, New York by Dr. Julius Eisenstark and has remained in the family since. And on June 8, 2017 the car was being road tested by a technician when it was hit from behind by a driver who was texting. Damage was extensive. In the ensuing nine months the car has under gone a total restoration. Attendees at this year’s event will see the car restored to its original livery.

1965 Panhard 24BT

Panhard was among the earliest automobile producers and, by some criteria, the first volume auto producer in the world, back in 1890. In 1965, the 2,550 mm (100.4 in) wheelbase versions became available, offering space for four or five, but still only with two doors. These were designated the Panhard 24 B and the Panhard 24 BT. Also familiar from a succession of post war Panhard saloons was the four-speed all-synchromesh gear box and the front-wheel-drive configuration. The wheels were independently suspended with telescopic shock absorbers and a torsion bar for the rear axle. The BT had disc brakes in the front.

1968 S.I.A.T.A. SPRING

The car was bought in Edisto Island, SC from the son of the second owner. In 1968, after a detailed market research among Italian youth, Siata launched the Siata Spring, a sports car based on parts from Fiat 850, with a front end styled by Enrico Fumia in 1966. The Siata Spring was produced until 1970, when Siata went bankrupt, but the assembly line was purchased by a newly formed company called ORSA (Officina Realizzazioni Sarde Automobili).

1974 DeTomaso Longchamps

The Longchamp was developed from the De Tomaso Deauville four-door sedan, using a shorter wheelbase chassis with the same suspension, engine and transmission. The two models were the only front-engined production cars produced by De Tomaso. The Longchamp featured a long and wide hood to accommodate the American power train, i.e. the 351 cubic inch (5,769 cc) Ford Cleveland V8. The 351 Cleveland, a popular and very potent engine in early 1970s Ford "muscle cars," was the same unit as that used in the Pantera. The suspension was independent front and rear with coil spring and wishbone suspension. Steering was power assisted rack and pinion with vented disc brakes all around, the rear discs being positioned inboard. The interior of the car was quite luxurious and it was almost fully covered with leather, although the use of Ford's parts bin (steering wheel, gear shift) took away somewhat of the luxurious impression.

1977 Maserati Kyalami

The Maserati Kyalami (Tipo AM129) is a four-seat GT coupé produced by Italian automobile manufacturer Maserati from 1976 to 1983. The car was named after the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa where a Maserati-powered Cooper T81 had won the 1967 South African Grand Prix. The Kyalami was the first new model developed under the Alejandro de Tomaso ownership. It was derived from, and mechanically virtually identical (except for some body panels) to the Longchamp, a three-box grand tourer made by De Tomaso Automobili. The Kyalami was launched at the 1976 Geneva Motor Show and was initially powered by a 265 PS (195 kW; 261 hp) 4.2-litre V8 engine which had a redline of 6,000 rpm. Only a few of these are in the US today.

1983 Puma GTS

Puma was a Brazilian specialist car manufacturer which built cars from 1966 until roughly 1995. High import tariffs effectively closed Brazil during much of this period to foreign-built cars. VW stopped production of the Karmann-Ghia in Brazil during the early 1970s, and the Puma was redesigned to use the Volkswagen Brasilia as a base instead for 1973. A convertible version, the 1600 GTS, was added sometime around 1970, and cars began to be exported at that time to other South American countries, North America and Europe.

1991 Avanti

One of only 94 four-door Avanti’s ever built, the car was originally owned in Nevada by a long term owner – bought new. Eisenstark is the third owner. Production of the Avanti ended in 1991 after 29 years.

Tickets for the 2019 Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival are now on sale at www.HHIConcours.com. For more information, visit the official Hilton Head Island Concours website at www.HHIConcours.com.


The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance will celebrate its 18th year in the fall of 2019. The Festival kicks off with race partner SVRA at the Savannah Speed Classic, October 25 – 27, on the Grand Prize of America road course situated on the property of The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa in Savannah, Georgia. The festivities will continue on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, November 1 – 3, at both the Hilton Head Island Airport (the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala kicks off the Hilton Head Island events on Friday, November 1) and the Port Royal Golf Club, where the Concours d’Elegance (Nov. 3) takes center stage. Classic Level Sponsors for the 2019 Festival included the Port Royal Golf Club, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, BMW, Porsche, Lexus, Castrol, Reliable Carriers, Inc., the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Dick Broadcasting and the Town of Hilton Head Island.


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