Sam Joiner showed up to the 2021 Ponte Vedra Auto Show not knowing what to expect, and he left with his 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL being named the overall winner.
The Ponte Vedra Beach resident has owned the car for 40 years after buying it in 1981.
Much like the way this year’s show turned out, he began his car search 40 years ago not quite sure how things would end up.
“I was actually looking for an early 1960s Corvette and didn’t know this car at all, but I saw a picture of it in Autotrader Magazine, because we didn’t have internet back then, and I was very intrigued,” Joiner said.
He went to look at it, and it did not take long before he realized it was the car for him.
“As soon as I drove it on the lot, I knew I was going to buy that car,” Joiner chuckled. “I forgot all about the Corvette.”
One of the things that Joiner has continued to love about his car all these years later is the visual appeal that it offers.
“I think it’s one of the more elegant cars ever built,” Joiner said. “I don’t really consider myself a ‘car person,’ but I like what I like, and I really like this car.”
After driving it around for years, he recently had it go through a restoration process in May.
Although he may have expected to take home the top prize, he is also not surprised because he knows the passion it brings out of people when they see the car.
“I got a lot of great reaction, and there were a lot of people that went gaga over it,” Joiner said. “All the conversations I had with people were just very motivating.”
Since the car was restored, Joiner has had several people tell him that he should consider taking the car to the Ameila Island Concours d’Elegance, which is considered one of the top automotive showcases in the world.
After winning this year’s Ponte Vedra Auto Show, he is seriously considering doing just that. The next Concours d’Elegance is scheduled March 3 to 6, 2022.
“I’ve always thought that was so far above, but maybe next year, if the weather’s good,” Joiner said.
Joiner’s Mercedes-Benz was chosen best in show among roughly 185 classic and modern vehicles that took part in the show.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and I was pretty surprised at just how big it was,” Joiner said. “It was so well done with the food trucks and how everything was run.”
The show went smoother in year two of Justin Felker, with Art ‘n Motion in St. Augustine, overseeing the event.
“We learned a lot from last year,” Felker said. “The show field and food vendor situation were better organized. The crowd was really good, and the weather was fantastic.”