Since winning last year’s Ponte Vedra Auto Show, Sam Joiner and his 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL have been on quite the journey together.
Being named “best in show” at the 2021 Ponte Vedra Auto Show was not something he expected when he first entered his car. In fact, it was really a last-minute decision to do it.
“It made winning it even sweeter,” Joiner said.
However, his win verified what he had been hearing from friends and others about the car for some time, that it was something special, a fact he had known since he first bought the car about 40 years ago.
He followed it up by entering his Mercedes-Benz in the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in March and it was on display during the Saturday showing of the event, considered one of the marquee auto shows in the world.
The trophy from last year’s overall win at the Ponte Vedra Auto Show sits in Joiner’s office at his house just feet away from his desk along with Ponte Vedra Recorder newspapers that highlight his triumph, which was the first time he had ever won an auto show.
“The whole thing is very new to me,” Joiner said. “I just really enjoy the people you meet and the stories you hear, because everyone shares such a passion for cars.”
In many ways Joiner’s life has also gone through a major change in the past year as he retired from his job.
According to Joiner, the timing could not have been better, because he has been able to use the extra time he has really get to know his car even better by being more of a mechanic to it, which is something he did not have time for in the past.
“I’ve learned so much in the past year and am always learning new things about my car just by getting under the hood and tinkering away with it,” Joiner said.
“There were a lot of cars everywhere you looked,” Joiner said. “It was an absolute blast.”
His presence at Amelia Island also earned him and his car a featured spot in the Mercedes-Benz Club of America’s national magazine.
“I know how much I feel about the car, so it means a lot when others come up and say that they appreciate it as well,” Joiner said.
Joiner has even received interest from the Brumos Collection Museum in Jacksonville to be featured.
“Those are kinds of doors that have been opened for me and the car,” Joiner said. “I thought the extent of how that car fit with rest of the world was just driving it down the road, but it goes far beyond that.”
While at Amelia Island, he had a husband and wife come up and start talking to him about the car, and after the conversation continued for a while the man reached in his satchel and pulled out a book that was a guide to maintenance on Mercedes-Benz 190SL’s and offered it to Joiner.
“He said his dad had one as well and he loved his car so much that he searched and purchased the book for him, but before he passed away before he could give it to him,” Joiner said. “He had been carrying it around for decades ever since and said he was looking for the right person to give it to.”
The conversation they had, convinced him that he had finally found the right person in Joiner.
“You can’t help but get chocked up a little,” Joiner said. “But those are the special conversations you get when you start talking to people about their cars.”