Best In Show: 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Sauotchik Torpedo
Known as the Model S before the earliest inkling of Tesla Motors, this Mercedes-Benz was the 1920s version of the supercar: elegant, fast, and eminently equipped. A potent 6.8-liter engine powered racing versions of the car to victory, including a win at the Nurburgring in 1927. With bodywork by Jacques Saoutchik for the Count de la Bastille of Monaco, this car was once sought after by the likes of classic Hollywood personalities such as Al Jolson. As one of just seven left-hand-drive Saoutchik-bodied Mercedes-Benzes, this car is unique among an incredibly limited pool. It's also the winner of the Best in Show at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
1948 Cadillac Series 62 Saoutchik Cabriolet
Pebble Beach's concours is notorious for delicately treading on the line between good taste and garishness. So, what to make of this coach-bodied Cadillac from the immediate post-war era? It helps to know the backstory--commissioned by a New York furrier from the famed custom Parisian crafters. Decked out in a deep purple and inset with latticed detail, the car crossed the country from Manhattan to California to its second owner, whose wife favored its standout color scheme. The car is now in the Blackhawk Collection.
1949 Delahaye 135 M Saoutchik Cabriolet
Another of Saoutchik's coachbuilt classics, this Delahaye was commissioned by a British owner, who then sold it to a Swiss owner. Restored in 1987, it's a returning entrant to the Pebble Beach Concours, having appeared on the green in 1992.
1948 Lloyd Templeton Mercury Saturn "Bob Hope" Roadster
Any fan of TV car shows knows how custom shops chop and rebuild ordinary cars into unrecognizable creations, sometimes of art. This roadster started life as a 1948 Mercury sedan, and transmogrified into a, stunning?, two-seater thanks to the fenders from a '49 Chevy, a boattail rear from a '36 Ford hood, and a '36 Chrysler hood. Nicknamed for the host of the half-century, the roadster unwittingly (or maybe not) shares Hope's most identifiable feature, a very long nose.
1956 Fiat 8V Zagato Berlinetta Coupe
Electrifying in its yellowness, under a few brief moments of 17-Mile Road sunshine, this Zagato-bodied Fiat coupe embodies the essence of all things Italian. Vibrant but simple lines, effusive use of color, essential details penciled in chrome. Originally designed for competition, this coupe is one of about 30 Zagato-bodied 8V coupes in existence.
1930 Packard Speedster Runabout
Fatigue-green paint and a Hawaiian heritage make this special Packard even more rare. One of 140 Speedsters delivered in the final model year, this Packard first made its way to Honolulu and remained there until the late 1950s. It's now part of a collection in New Jersey.
1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster
First owned by two brothers in Berlin, this rare Mercedes roadster even has a five-speed overdrive transmission. It was rediscovered in the Soviet Union in 1967, and was driven over the border to Finland in the interest of preservation.
Maharaja Swan and Cygnet
Easily the most intriguing cars at this year's Concours were the incredibly detailed "swan and cygnet" duo, part of the collection of the Maharaja of Nabha, a founder of India's vintage car association. The larger 1910 Brooke was built for a Brit living in Calcutta, and has some captivating details: the eyes are lit, and the horn is played through a keyboard. The swan's beak even releases steam--its own hiss. The smaller car, the cygnet--no relation to the Aston Martin hatchback--was commissioned by the 'Raja to trail the Swan Car and to be used around his estate.
1914 McIntyre Imp Model Z Tandem Cyclecar
Owned by Richard Atwell of Fredricksburg, Texas, this compact, almost too-cute-for-Pebble car is one of only six McIntyre Imps known to exist today. Powered by a miniscule 10-horsepower V-twin engine piped through a four-speed gearbox, it's the early 20th Century take on minimalist transportation--and yet it bears an uncanny resemblance to some of the more extreme takes on modern mobility. The foresight, economy, and simplicity seen in this tiny car makes it not just interesting, but surprisingly relevant today.
1937 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet
Built from the same basic mold as the three Bugatti Atlantics, this 57C is powered by a 3.3-liter supercharged straight eight-cylinder engine, rated at more than 175 horsepower. Bodied by Vanvooren of Paris, this model was built on a convertible roadster chassis in 1937, and stands out as just one of a tiny handful of historic Bugattis in the Type 57 range.
1956 Ferrari 410 Sport Scaglietti Spyder
Unlike many of the cars with an actual chance at winning the overall Best In Show award at Pebble Beach, this car was built with a single purpose in mind: winning races. Designed by Ferrari's racing Scuderia, Powered by a 5.0-liter V-12 engine, the Sport Scaglietti Spyder was a fast and lithe machine for its time, competing in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires among other events. Dominant until the mid-engined Ferraris arrived in the 1960s, this is just one of three Spyders built of this type. Racing legends like Phil Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Carroll Shelby all drove this car.
1948 Norman Timbs Emil Diedt Roadster
Streamlined almost unlike anything before and rarely after, this fantastic Emil Diedt coachbuild was inspired by the famous cab-forward design of the Auto Union Type C and other streamlined racers of the 1930s. Capable of speeds of up to 120 mph on the strength of a 1948 Buick straight-eight engine, the Norman Timbs Emil Diedt Roadster's performance is nearly as striking as its looks. A one-piece rear section folds upward to reveal the tube-frame chassis and mid-engine design. But the simplicity and purity of the curvaceous, aerodynamic exterior is the real draw for this particular classic.
1924 Delage 2LCV Grand Prix
Built by Charles Planchon, this is arguably--according to Pebble Beach historians--the first modern grand prix car. Powered by a formidable two-liter V-12 engine, the cars eventually finished second, third and sixth in the Grand Prix at Lyon in 1924. For our money, this is one of the most simply, elegantly beautiful cars that was on the lawn at Pebble Beach this year--despite the fact that it got minimal attention from the judges.
1947 Delahaye 135 MS Langenthal Coupe
Triple-carbureted, low-slung, and streamlined, the Langenthal Coupe is one of only two Delahayes built by the coachbuilder. Originally intended as a convertible, it was swapped by Langenthal for a removal hardtop version to improve rearward visibility, and that was eventually changed to a coupe roof for weight savings--though the view from outside the car is, as ever, stunning.
(c) 2012, High Gear Media.