Movie buffs traveling to this year's Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will be in for a pleasant surprise: among all the classic rides on display will be Natalie Wood's Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The car will be one of several 300SLs on hand to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz's first Le Mans win in 1952.
Unfortunately, the car doesn't look quite the way it did when Wood owned it. "She had it painted pink," said Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. "Pink with a lipstick-red leather interior, as if driving a 300SL around Hollywood didn’t attract enough attention."
Someone -- possibly the car's current owner, Ms. Terri Henning of Charleston, South Carolina -- has had the 300SL restored to a more traditional, factory-approved silver. To Henning's credit, though, the restoration is very thorough and period-appropriate, right down to the Becker in-dash radio.
Wood's 300SL may generate more interest now than it would have in previous years. In November of 2011, author Marti Rulli released a book about Ms. Wood called Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour. That same month, the Los Angeles Police Department reopened the file on Wood's drowning 30 years before, on November 28, 1981. An investigation ruled the death accidental, and Wood's companions on her private yacht -- husband, Robert Wagner, and friend, Christopher Walken -- were both cleared of any wrongdoing.
The 2012 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will be held March 9 - 11 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach. This year's event will honor racing legend Vic Elford. For more information, visit AmeliaIslandConcours.com.