The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the most exclusive and highly regarded annual automotive competitions in the world. Any owner of the 200-plus collector vehicles invited each year to compete would claim to be honored to have a vehicle on display at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. However, for most the ultimate goal is to win the top honor: Best of Show. The 71st Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is still a few weeks away, so for now we offer this retrospective of Best of Show winners from the past 13 years.
2021 Best of Show — 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier
After show organizers canceled the 2020 Pebble Beach Concours due to the pandemic, the concours returned in all its glory as this elegant 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 Autobahn Kurier from The Keller Collection at The Pyramids in Petaluma, California, took top honors as Best of Show. This was the third time that owners Arturo and Deborah Keller have fielded a Best of Show vehicle, having previously won in 1986 and 2001. The Mercedes-Benz Autobahn Kurier debuted at the 1938 Berlin Auto Show, and Mercedes-Benz made a total of four 500K and two 540K Autobahn Kuriers, but this is the only one still in existence. “This is the only remaining car of its kind, and I am the second owner from new. It’s a very special car, and we are very happy,” said Keller.
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier
The Mercedes-Benz Autobahn Kurier attracted a lot of attention when it debuted in Berlin, thanks to its long, sweeping hood and aerodynamic teardrop design drawing on the success of the Silver Arrow Grand Prix cars that dominated racing in prewar Germany. The Kurier also gained favor for its advanced engineering and superior performance that enabled high cruising speeds on Germany’s newly constructed superhighway, the Autobahn. “My dream was to win it again with this car. This car is very special to us,” enthused owner Arturo Keller.
2019 Best of Show — 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer
Three years ago Sir Michael Kadoorie won the coveted Best of Show trophy with this gorgeous 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer. The win had special meaning since Bentley was one of the featured marques at last year’s concours in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary. When asked what it feels like to win the top prize at this celebration of elegance, and among such stiff competition, Kadoorie — a billionaire Hong Kong businessman and hotel owner — exclaimed with a big smile on his face, “I’ll tell you tomorrow, I’m still at a high that I’ve not reached before.” Kadoorie had entered many vehicles at Pebble Beach in previous years, but this was the first time one of his cars had received the Best of Show trophy.
1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer
Bentley designed the 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer to go head-to-head with the Rolls-Royce Phantom II, which was also new at the time. When he launched the new 8-liter luxury car, W. O. Bentley wrote, “I have always wanted to produce a completely silent, 100 mph car, and now I think we have done it.” In fact, the company guaranteed that the car would be capable of speeds exceeding 100 mph — an impressive claim in 1931. This particular Bentley Sports Tourer with its dual cowl and detachable rear windscreen is one of two short-chassis 8 Litres built with this particular Gurney Nutting body style. It is the only surviving copy. Surprisingly, a Bentley had not been named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance since 1965, when a 1927 Bentley 4 ½ liter Vanden Plas Tourer owned by Christopher Coburn took top honors.
2018 Best of Show — 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
Four years ago, David and Ginny Sydorick won the coveted Best of Show trophy for their stunning 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta. First revealed at the 1937 Paris Auto Salon, this particular Alfa Romeo appeared later that year in Milan, and then the following year at the 1938 Berlin Auto Show. When asked how it felt to be standing on the awards ramp at the Pebble Beach Concours next to his Best of Show winning car, Mr. Sydorick exclaimed, “It’s the World Cup. It’s beyond Best of Show. It’s fantastic!”
1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
In the 1930s the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 was one of the most technically-advanced sports cars that money could buy. This Pebble Beach Best of Show-winning 8C features Superleggera coachwork incorporating a more steeply raked front grille and no running boards, which set it apart from later 8Cs. Featured in magazines of the time, the 8C was referred to in the Alfa Romeo sales brochure as a “Coupé Leggero.” This particular Alfa is believed to have been in Germany through the 1950s and entered the United States in 1956. The first restoration of this 8C took place in the 1990s, and in 2001 judges at the Pebble Beach Concours named it winner of the Most Elegant Closed Car class.
2017 Best of Show — 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer
At the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours, Bruce McCaw of Bellevue, Washington, received the top honor for this stunning 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer. After showing cars at the Concours for more than 20 years, this was McCaw’s first trip across the ramp as a Best of Show winner. The car was originally delivered in London in 1928 and shortly after upgraded to full SS specification, which means it received a massive 7.0-liter supercharged engine. The coachwork alterations were performed by Barker of London, and McCaw believes this may be the only Mercedes left with a body by Barker.
1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer
In addition to its unique color scheme, this 1929 Mercedes features chrome-plated wheels, low-cut doors and torpedo-style running boards. Tools and other equipment can be stored in the running boards. Given its sporting pedigree, this Mercedes-Benz S would no doubt be entertaining to drive, but we were surprised to hear that McCaw had never driven the car — mainly because he hadn’t had a chance. The car arrived in Pebble Beach a few days before the Concours; the restoration had been completed one week earlier — a rather tight timeline for such an important event.
2016 Best of Show — 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet
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 Best of Show winner. When asked how it felt to take the most coveted prize at this world-renowned concours, Mattei told the crowd it was, “beyond imagination.” This was the first time a Lancia had 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.
1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet
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 is one of 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. At one point Eric Clapton owned this car, and the music legend declared it to be, “the most fun I’ve had offstage and out of bed.”
2015 Best of Show — 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A F. Ramseier and Cie Worblaufen Cabriolet
Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky, took home his second Best of Show trophy with this rare 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A F. Ramseier & Cie Worblaufen Cabriolet at the 65th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Even though it was Patterson’s second Best of Show win, the taste of victory was no less sweet. “If you win at Pebble Beach, you’ve done it. Nothing else compares,” he said in a post-Concours interview. He also noted that winning the Concours once was like winning the Kentucky Derby, but twice was akin to “winning the Super Bowl.”
1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A F. Ramseier and Cie Worblaufen Cabriolet
A mouthful to pronounce, the Isotta Fraschini Tipo is a one-off custom-built cabriolet (convertible) built by Carrosserie Worblaufen, after the coachbuilder acquired the car in 1931 to construct a Sport Cabriolet on the long-wheelbase chassis. The completed car debuted at the 1932 Geneva Motor Show before winning the Grand-Prix d’Honneur at Cannes in 1933. Although it was rebodied in 1932, the Isotta is still considered a 1924 model. The car had a total of four owners in Switzerland and France before coming to North America in 2014.
2014 Best of Show — 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe
When Jon Shirley of Medina, Washington, drove this car across the awards ramp at the Pebble Concours to take home the Best of Show trophy, it was the first time a Ferrari had ever achieved the honor. This Ferrari is also the first post-war car to be named Best of Show since 1968. Most of the Ferrari 375 MM models were built for competition, but five were made for the road and Shirley’s is likely one of the most famous of the five. Originally ordered by film director Robert Rosellini, the car began as a Pinin Farina-bodied competition spyder. After an accident destroyed the body, the chassis went to Carozzeria Scaglietti in Modena, Italy, for a replacement body. It became the first passenger car for Ferrari designed by Scaglietti.
1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe
After driving the Ferrari in a number of rallies, Shirley decided to return the car to concours standard so he could enter it in the 2014 event. This included removing the beautiful leather seats and replacing them with vinyl, since he had learned that the original had vinyl seats. Shirley told us that the car is powerful and enjoyable to drive. The exhaust note is also distinctive, emanating from its 4.5-liter V12 that reportedly produces 340 horsepower.
2013 Best of Show — 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria
Joseph and Margie Cassini of West Orange, New Jersey, took their second trip to the podium at Pebble Beach with this gorgeous 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. The Cassinis had earned Best of Show previously in 2004. The Packard was one of a handful of American cars to take top honors at Pebble over the last 30 years or so, and Cassini was quite pleased with the win. “To have a car win best of show here, you know you have one of the finest cars in the world,” said Cassini.
1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria
Joseph Cassini told us this particular Packard car is wonderful to drive — very powerful with a V12 engine and a reliable Packard transmission. When asked what it was like to own such a beautiful car, Cassini told us, “I don’t have the wherewithal to own all of the great cars in the world at once, but I do have the ability to own some of the greatest cars in the world one at a time.”
2012 Best of Show — 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo
It was a tough field at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours with more than 220 entries, but the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo owned by Paul & Judy Andrews was ultimately named the Best of Show.
1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo
Andrews was visibly shaken, being so surprised to win the coveted overall award. But to win after a mere four years of entering cars at Pebble is an impressive feat — many entrants show cars each year for a much longer period of time before finally winning the top award.
2011 Best of Show — 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne
Peter & Merle Mullin had been showing cars at the Pebble Beach Concours for almost 30 years, but this was their first time winning the coveted Best of Show trophy. Their 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne did not fit the typical formula for a Pebble Beach Best of Show vehicle, but the attention to detail was beyond reproach.
1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne
It made sense that Mullin would have his first win with a French entry — he owns one of the finest collections of French cars in the world and is the founder of the Mullin Automotive Museum. “Winning with the Voisin is the most special, significant, rewarding thing that’s ever happened to me . . . outside of marrying my wife,” Mullin said. “There’s nothing like the Voisin interior. You can’t print the fabric in this car; you have to loom it. This interior is going to last a long time.”
2010 Best of Show — 1933 Delage D8S De Villars Roadster
Jim Patterson made his first visit to the winner’s circle at the Pebble Beach Concours with this striking 1933 Delage D8s De Villars Roadster. The Delage has an interesting history, starting out as a featured vehicle at the 1934 Salon de Paris. The original owner was the son of the prime minister of Spain, and the car was later used as a hotel shuttle for the Gran Hotel Velasquez in Madrid.
1933 Delage D8S De Villars Roadster
The Delage is powered by a 145-horsepower 4.0-liter overhead-valve straight 8-cylinder engine. The car had been purchased at auction three years earlier, before receiving a meticulous restoration performed by RM Auto Restoration. RM has quite the track record, having restored multiple Pebble Beach Best of Show vehicles.
2009 Best of Show — 1937 Horch 853 Voll and Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet
Robert M. Lee’s absolutely gorgeous 1937 Horch was practically an obvious pick for the 2009 Pebble Beach Best of Show. This was the second win for Lee, who had earned the top honors just three years earlier with his 1931 Daimler Double-Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupe. The Horch is a predecessor to the Audi brand, so it was a fitting win since 2009 was Audi’s 100th anniversary.
1937 Horch 853 Voll and Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet
When asked about his second win, Lee said, “Pebble Beach is the greatest car show in the world and winning here is indescribable. It’s been a wonderful day for us here and I have the best team to thank for making it happen.”