The 2015 winners of six top classic car rallies around the globe vied for the title of "Most Exceptional Car in the World" this week in Carmel, Calif. The Peninsula Classics "Best of the Best Award" went to a stunning 1937 Talbot-Lago owned by businessman (and car museum proprietor) Peter Mullin. Here are all the contestants.
There are only four 1903 Mercedes Simplex roadsters in the world today. It was Mercedes's top-of-the-range model at the time; buyers loved it for its wide, low center of gravity, four manual gears, and decent-for-the-time horsepower (40hp to 60hp). This one (60hp, manual gears) earned Best in Show last year at The Holyroodhouse Concours of Elegance in Edinburgh, one of the most exclusive car shows in the world.
“You are looking for excellence in the car itself,” said Nick Mason, former drummer for Pink Floyd and a classic car enthusiast. He was one of the judges for the Best of the Best awards. “You’re looking to promote the idea of looking after these cars properly. Curating them. Looking for restoration done in a really sympathetic way, an accurate way. That’s part of it. Keep this thing going. It's not just the shiny object in front of you.”
This 1965 Ferrari 166 P 206 SP Dino 0834 won the Scuderia Ferrari Cup for Best of Show at the Cavallino Classic last year in Palm Beach, Fla. It's a one-of-a-kind V6 Dino with a successful racing past: First entered by Scuderia Ferrari in 1965, star drivers Giancarlo Baghetti and Ludovico Scarfiotti raced it to many wins over the years. The five-gear manual car is named after Enzo Ferrari's son, Alfredo (Dino for short), who died in 1956 after suffering ill health for much of his life.
“My weakness is Ferraris,” Mason admitted, though he ultimately voted for the Talbot Lago to win. “You've got to vote for which car is the best, not the one you want to take home.”
"Of all the great French car designs, this is absolutely the most exciting example of rolling sculpture," Peter Mullin said about his T150CS, which won Peninsula Hotel's Best of the Best competition this week in Carmel, Calif. But it's more than just a pretty face: "To my eye, this car combines sculptural beauty, engineering, and performance. These cars raced at Le Mans!"
Mullin himself has driven this one 1,000 miles across Europe, though the Italian, Swiss, and French Alps, and will have it on the lawn as well during this weekend at Pebble. Not that he's thinking of selling it anytime soon. Or ever. "It's my favorite car in our collection, so if I had to sell, it would go last," he said. "Which means never." With a car body like that, who would blame him?
The 1932 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Sport Cabriolet won Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2015. Only four people have owned the vehicle since its inception; it arrived in North America only two years ago after spending its previous life in Europe. This one has a 7.3 liter, straight-eight-cylinder engine that can reach 160hp, which during its glory days was an astounding amount of power. Top speed on the three-speed manual drivetrain was 93 miles per hour. But the best part about this sport cabriolet is that when you take down the top, the look of prestige and grandeur can't be matched.
"Pebble Beach is like Woodstock for cars," Mason, the judge, said of the legendary concours. "I have to try to fit it all in."
The 1968 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale comes with a mid-mounted V8 engine that achieved more than 230hp at full throttle. Alfa derived the model from the Alfa Romeo 33/2 racing cars in order to make a street-legal sports car that stayed close to the brand's racing heritage but would appeal to more casual drivers. The car could hit 60mph in 5.5 seconds and had a top speed of 160mph. Since its restoration in 2004, this one has won many top honors, including Best in Show at the the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, in 2015. This year Quail, a Peninsula Signature Event, will start at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 19.
The 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster was designed by one of the most famous American designers of the modern era, Brooks Stevens, who created home furnishings and appliances in addition to cars. Most people consider the Cord L29 to define the look of its time—long-nosed, narrow, and forward-thinking, rounded in back and completely open-topped to let the sunshine in. Fewer than 5,000 were made. This one won Best of Show at the 20th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida.
"The difficulty in judging was that each of these cars is so different," Mason said. "You've got the racing cars and the prewar things. They're all different animals."
Source: bloomberg.com Photos: The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best