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Ford GT40, Benz 500K roadster dazzle at Keels & Wheels show

May 13, 2019 GMT

Last weekend’s 24th Keels & Wheels classic car and boat show saw the kind of weather that Kentucky Derby organizers only wish they could lock in.

The spring Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance has become a nationally acclaimed event that attracts top-flight entries from all over the country and upward of 10,000 spectators to the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook.

The picture-perfect weekend’s “incredible array of cars included examples from the early 1900s to muscle cars, American ’50s and ’60s classics, street rods, Ferraris, pre- and post-war American Packards, Ford GT40s and supercars,” said Bob Fuller, chairman of Keels & Wheels.


In addition to featured marques Bentley, Lamborghini and Shelby, “the harbor was filled with beautiful vintage wooden boats from classic Chris-Craft runabouts to large vintage yachts,” said Fuller. “There was even a Coast Guard cutter that has been converted to a private yacht.”

The Best of Show honors in the American car category went to a 1966 Ford GT40 owned by Bill Hibbs of Tyler, Texas. In 1966, GT40s racked up historic first-, second- and third-place wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The previous year, the top three finishers had all worn Ferrari prancing horse badges.

In the European category, the Best of Show trophy went to a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster owned by Craig Hopkins of Cedar Hill, Texas. In 2012, one of only 29 special cabriolets built went for a reported $11.7 million at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. (In 1936, the price tag for the two-seater was reportedly a whopping $106,000.)

In the wooden boat competition, “Finntastic,” a 1955 Chris-Craft Cobra owned by Steve Spinharney of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was named Best of Show in the small boat class. Peter Seitz of Ketchum, Oklahoma, took Best in Show in the large boat category with “Renegade,” a customized 1968 Campbell Day Cruiser powered by twin in-line 454 cu. in. Chevy V8s.

The proceeds of this year’s Keels & Wheels show will help Today’s Harbor for Children, a nonprofit group that seeks to provide a home and safe environment for abandoned and abused children, as well as healthy, comprehensive care for children and families in crisis.

The show’s title sponsor, Texas Coast Yachts, donated a new Jeanneau power boat valued at more than $100,000, as this year’s raffle’s big prize. The raffle tickets were $100 each and 1,000 tickets were sold. The lucky ticket was held by Lori Hunt of Dallas.


For almost a quarter century, the Keels & Wheels concours has drawn thousands of spectators from all over the U.S. and Europe, raising more than $1.7 million for local charities, according to event officials.

Additional title sponsors included the Jon and Jacqueline Hodges Charitable Organization, Apache Well Control and the city of Seabrook.

This year’s Keels & Wheels grand marshal, Clive Cussler, best-selling author, marine explorer and classic car aficionado, was on hand to sign books and help with award presentations. Cussler had his 1919 Locomobile 6-fender on display and it earned an award in the American pre-war closed class.

At the Keels & Wheels banquet Saturday night, Cussler was surprised with a Texas Navy award for superior achievement.

“Mr. Cussler has long been involved with the search and recovery of historic sunken vessels,” Fuller said. “Those activities include the search for the Texas Navy vessel Invincible, which played a crucial role in winning Texas independence and defeating Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto.”

Check out Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency at