Winning at Pebble Beach
Amid exploding fireworks and flying confetti, Richard Mattei of Paradise Valley, Arizona, drove his immaculate 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet onto the awards ramp at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as the 2016 Best of Show winner. When asked how it felt to take the most coveted prize at this world-renowned concours, Mattei told the audience it was, “beyond imagination.”
VIDEO: Pebble Beach Concours Best of Show Ceremony
This is the first time a Lancia has won Best of Show at Pebble Beach, and it certainly wasn’t an easy win. A strong field of entrants included many stunning Delahayes — the featured marque of the 66th Concours competition. Both runners up for Best of Show were fine vehicles owned by previous Best of Show winners: A 1931 Stutz DV-32 LeBaron Convertible Victoria owned by Joseph & Margie Cassini III of West Orange, New Jersey, and a 1938 Delahaye 165 Figoni & Falaschi Cabriolet owned by the Robert M. Lee Automobile Collection / Anne Brockinton Lee of Sparks, Nevada.
Not only was this Mattei’s first-ever Best of Show win, it was also his first time attending the Pebble Beach Concours. He told us he had no expectation of winning — he was simply happy to have been invited to Pebble Beach to show his car. “Personally, it’s fantastic,” he said.
Mattei’s Lancia was one of just six cars that Pinin Farina built for a Lancia dealer in Biella, Italy. Each of the six was built with slightly different features. This Lancia has a hydraulically-powered top, curved side glass, internally-adjustable shocks and a basket-woven interior.
Built for England?
Mattei told us the original owner of the car is unknown; however, the gauges are not metric so he believes it was built for an owner in England.
The first record of the vehicle stems from when it was found in rather poor condition in a hedgerow in England in the 1960s by two young men, one of whom was Michael Scott. A friend of Scott’s family knew Battista Pinin Farina and told him about the car. Pinin Farina remembered the Lancia and said that if the two could get the car running, the factory would restore it for free.
Enter Eric Clapton
After the car was restored, it was sold to guitarist Eric Clapton who declared it to be, “the most fun I’ve had offstage and out of bed.” Eventually Clapton sold it back to Pininfarina, where it was featured in their museum until the mid-2000s.
Mattei purchased the car in 2009 and immediately began a full restoration. Based on photos from the original build, the car is now restored to its original state as designed by Pinin Farina.
Power in this 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet comes from a very narrow 3.0-lier V8 engine that makes about 110 horsepower. Mattei says the Lancia is an incredibly smooth-driving car — very comfortable.
When asked what compelled him to purchase the Lancia in the first place, Mattei said that although the car was in rough shape, it was clearly an elegant piece of machinery. After spending the last five years on a full restoration, this beautiful Lancia is certainly deserving of Best of Show honors at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.