Amelia or Bust: In Kauffman’s garage, Corvette is king

Jeff Peek

Rob Kauffman isn’t into trailer queens. If he owns a car, you can bet that he’s going to drive it. And he has about 50 of them in his collection. He just doesn’t call it that.

“I don’t really consider it a collection because I like driving all of my cars,” he says. “I’m an enthusiast—I like all kinds of different things; I have everything from a 1901 Panhard to a McLaren P1. I like to experience the different eras and how the technology has changed, and I like to take the cars to events and share them with people. That’s a lot of fun.”

Among the star cars in Kauffman’s Charlotte garage—which is actually a warehouse—is the 1966 Ford GT40 MKII (chassis P/1046) that Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon drove to victory in the ’66 Le Mans 24 Hours. He also owns the Sunoco/Penske 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder that Mark Donohue drove to the Can-Am Series championship.

There are plenty of beautiful classics for sale at RK Motors in the warehouse next door, too. Among the eye catchers in RK’s approximately 100-car inventory are a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado, a 1972 Camaro Z/28, an immaculate 1963 Volkswagen Beetle survivor, a 1966 Ford Bronco, and a 1964 Land Rover Series IIA.

So which car would Kauffman choose if he could have only one? He’ll take his Silver Blue 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.

“On a nice day like today, the Cobra would be a contender, but the ’63 is my go-to car—I’m taking it home today,” he says with a smile. “I’m also a ‘63, so we’re the same age. It’s a good reminder of your roots, and it’s super enjoyable to drive.”

Kauffman’s two-warehouse bevy of classics was the first stop on Day 4 of the 1000-mile Amelia Island or Bust Tour. After taking more twisty roads through the Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoying lunch on Lake Lure—the primary filming location for Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray—things straightened out a bit.

The drive to North Augusta, South Carolina, was long, but we broke things up with a 20-minute stop at the humongous BMW factory in Greer. The Zentrum Museum there has a nice display of cars, a gift shop, and the Isetta Cafe.

Tomorrow we cross the Savannah River into Georgia on our final push for Amelia Island. Rob Kauffman and his ’63 Corvette would fit right in.

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