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Pebble Beach, 19th of August 2012

The Monterey Classic Car Week found its final with the Concours d´Elegance at the Pebble Beach Golf Course. The most important event of its kind in the world is the highlight of the week and this year's edition was not an exception. 225 cars in not less than 28 classes were presented at the 18th hole of the famous Golf Course at the Monterey Peninsula. Beside the regular classes ranging from the Edwardian era to the post-war years both in American and European cars this year's concours featured the special classes of the Maharaja cars, the featured models of Mercer and AC Cobra plus the coachwork of Saoutchik.

Especially the Maharaja cars with many Rolls-Royce but also Duesenberg, Hispano Suiza, Delage, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley drew much attention upfront as they were not just entered by the big European or American Collectors but also by the Indian highnesses as the recently repatriated Rolls-Royce Phantom II known as the “Start of India”. But show stopper were without doubt the two Swan Cars brought over by the Dutch Collector Evert Louwman.

The class of Saoutchik featured the work of the French Carrossier spanning 3 decades ranging from a duo of Mercedes-Bent 680S from the late 1920s to the 1954 Pegaso Z-102 B. It also showed the variety in design ranging from flamboyant examples like the presented Delahaye to a clear line of the Delage D8-120 S Cabriolet. Especially the later one with the sliding doors and the elegant two-tone black-silver paintwork was one of the favourites for a BoS but had to give way in its class to the later winner of this year's concours.

Ferrari had again two classes with the competition and road going models but was also very well represented in this years preserved class. The tiny 500 Mondial was one of crowds favourite showing all the signs of age with proud rather than the perfection of some over-restored cars. The competition class included a open variation of the Mondial, two 250 TdF and the big 410 Sport amongst others. The Grand Touring class featured two lovely 212 Inter Cabriolet with early Pinin Farina design, a 250 GT LWB California Spider but the most impressive car was the 375 Plus PF Cabriolet. Once built for the Belgium King Leopold this car combines the chassis of a pure race car with the elegant cabriolet coachwork of Pinin Farina and the car won its class after a recent restoration bringing the interior back to its original colour. The car was rarely seen in the last years and drew much attention by all those interested in the Italian Marque.

The Concours started early in the morning at 6 am when the first cars entered the lawn and as in previous years there were already many people waiting for them to be set up by the countless volunteers on the show field. The weather was typical for August at the coast with some fog early in the morning and mild temperatures and beside a short sunny period around noon the sky remained overcast for the rest of the day. This did not take away the many spectators as one had the impression that the field even filled up earlier this year as it was already crowded well before the official opening of the field for the public. The owners were busy preparing the cars for the judges including international designer of the large manufacturers, marque experts and former race drivers who had again the agony of choice to pick out the class winners of the high quality entries. Even regular visitors for the last decades were impressed that this event attracts so many superb cars after all this years that were never seen before and even when one thinks he has seen all there is something new to discover.

As mentioned earlier the concours had 28 classes so the award ceremony started at about 1:30 pm and it took well over 3 hours the come to the final with the presentation of the desired Best of Show. Among all the class winners the jury had picked 4 favourites, the nominee for BoS including a dup of Duesenberg, the Villa d´Este winning Figoni bodied Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS but the trophy went to the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo by Saoutchik owned by Paul & July Andrews. This elegant grey Mercedes with low windshield is one of just 6 examples bodied by Saoutchik on this chassis and was restored to perfection by renowned restorer Paul Russel. Almost 20 years after his last BoS with the famous Trossi Mercedes he succeeded again with a 6 cylinder supercharged model.

Unfortunately the pyrotechnics had a jump start so the fireworks and the confetti bomb was fired way to early before the car actually was on the ramp so rather than raining golden confetti on the winner the car was covered in smoke when reaching its spot. But this (and maybe the weather) was the only downside on this fabulous edition of the concours.

Just after the concours we headed over to the Sunday sale of Pebble Beach´s official auction at Gooding&Company. After the high sales the day before some of the most important lots were on the block on the final day of the auction week. We just came in as the Dusenberg Model J once owned by Clark Gable was for sale but at a high bid of 6.4 million $ it remained unsold. Also unsold was the very original Blower Bentley nick-named “Green Hornet” due to his boattail with a highbid of 7.0 million dollar. The Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider was sold at its opening bid at 6.0 million plus commission, the star lot of the evening, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster was sold at a new record price with no less than 10.7 million hammer price. This made the car the third car this week to climb over the 10 million dollar marque after the Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage at RM on Friday and the ex-Sherman Wolf California Spider on Saturday at Gooding.

Before arriving at the auction Lot 109 a Ferrari factory team 857 Sport sold for $6,27mio and Lot 113 th Ford GT40 Prototype sold for $4,95mjo incl. buyers premium.

Now after a long week with many event during the days the next weeks will be needed to work up all the impressions with more detailed reports and galleries to come.

Text & images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de