Pictorial: the 8 most beautiful concours cars of 2022
Each year for the last seven years, Peninsula Classics has been running an event that is so grandiose in concept that few others would even attempt to create an award on this scale. The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best identifies the world’s most exceptional classic car from a select group of vehicles that have won the highest awards at the previous year’s major concours events.
Most of these cars are worth more than $10 million apiece, sometimes an additional order of magnitude again ... yet the honor of being adjudged the best of the best gets them all there, and this year the field is the most competitive we have ever seen.
The final judging and announcement of the 2022 award will take place during Monterey Car Week on 13 August 2023 at The Quail Lodge, and this week the final eight contestants were named for the award which is the de facto world championship of concours cars.
One of these cars will join the previous winners: Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupe (2015), Maserati A6GCS/53 (2016), Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic (2017), Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B (2018), Ferrari 335 S Spyder (2019), Ferrari 750 Monza (2020) and Ferrari 250 GT Competizione (2021) as the best concours car in the world.
We have gathered together the stories and many images of each of the eight finalists, and the very best 10 of those images are included in the image gallery - all the cars are quite beautiful, and we've attempted to get them from every angle so you can see the eight best classic cars in the world from the 2022 concours field.
1966 Ferrari 365 P Speciale “Tre Posti”
Owner: Roberto Quiroz, RQ Collection
Qualifying win: 31st Palm Beach Cavallino Classic
Event website: Cavallino.com
Where: The Breakers in Palm Beach (Florida)
When: 24 January 2022
Next event: 25 to 28 January 2024
Images in Gallery: 10 (link to gallery)
This is a milestone car in so many ways. It was originally a one-off, but it spawned an entire branch of the Ferrari family tree. It was a collaboration between Enzo Ferrari, Sergio Pininfarina, and Luigi Chinetti, with a healthy dose of Gianni Agnelli in the recipe.
This car was Ferrari’s original, mid-engine 12-cylinder supercar, based on the chassis and drivetrain of the Ferrari 365 P2 racing car, which in turn was the ultimate version of the Ferrari 250LM.
It has a ground-breaking three-seat layout, and perhaps the most telling indication of how significant it is was that when it went to auction in 2014 at the official Pebble Beach auction, Charlie Ross and David Gooding had to explain to the crowd that although bidding had reached surpassed $22 million, it wasn't enough, it hadn’t reached its reserve price, and they passed it in.
It was unveiled at the 53rd International Paris Motor Show as the key Pininanfarina show car. A global tour in 1966 and 1967 followed, including engagements at key auto shows in Brussels, London and Los Angeles. Pininfarina leveraged the publicity of the global tour with a widespread press kit, propagating brand-defining publicity into every major car magazine in the world.
The Ferrari 365P ‘Tre Posti’ has graced the lawns at many major concours over recent years: Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, Concours of Elegance Hampton Court Palace, Chantilly Arts & Elegance, and Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in the past 18 months alone. Prior to that it had appeared at Meadow Brook Concours, Louis Vuitton Concours, Louis Vuitton Classic, Goodwood Revival, Brands Hatch Ferrari Festival, Concorso Italiano and it won its way into the final eight for this award by taking out the 2022 Cavallino Classic. It is seen here on the shores of Lake Como at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
1938 Dubonnet Xenia Coupé
Owner: Peter & Merle Mullin, Mullin Auto Museum
Qualifying win: Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille
Event website: Chantillyartsetelegance.com
Where: Château de Chantilly, about 50 km north of Paris, France
When: 23 to 25 September 2022
Next event: 2024 dates not yet known
Images in Gallery: 15 (link to gallery)
Look up the name André Dubonnet and you’ll find he was a WWI flying ace, war hero (winner of Légion d'honneur, Médaille militaire, Croix de Guerre), Olympic athlete, works racing driver, heir to a liquor fortune and the word “inventor” is often tacked on the end of that sentence, almost as an afterthought.
Remarkably, in the grand scheme of things, Dubonnet’s contribution as an inventor is perhaps his greatest claim for a place in history. The Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia is a perfect example of the way Dubonnet went about building a one-off luxury car.
It uses the chassis of an Hispano-Suiza H6B, the larger, more powerful engine of the H6C and the body was initially commissioned to aircraft engineer Jean Andreau before art deco automotive couturier Jacques Saoutchik gave life to the design both inside and out.
This car has won its way into the final eight for the Peninsula Classics Award previously, and it is truly one of the most breathtaking automobiles you will ever see, with a unique interior and a genuinely original design. It will almost certainly win this award one day, because it will almost certainly win yet another of the eight feeder concours to the grand prize - check out the portraits of the car in the image gallery. It is a bonafide unicorn, built by an unacclaimed genius.
1938 Delage Type D8-120S de Villars
Owner: Fritz Burkard, The Pearl Collection
Qualifying win: Concours of Elegance (U.K.)
Event website: Concoursofelegance.co.uk
Where: Hampton Court Palace, West London, U.K.
When: 2 to 4 September 2022
Next event: 1-3 September 2023
Images in Gallery: 11 (link to gallery)
Each concours event has its unique differences, and after ten years of the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, the biggest difference the event has from most concours events is that the Best in Show award is chosen by the Concours car owners themselves. Whether that produces a better or different result is difficult to say, though in choosing the 1938 Delage D8-120 ‘de Villars’ as the best in show at Hampton Court, I wonder how many of the owners knew of the car's prior history.
It wasn't a surprise for the owner, Fritz Burkard of Switzerland, because he knew the car had already been to the summit once before when it had won the best in show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1996 when it was in the custody of Sam & Emily Mann.
Hence it is fair to say this D8-120 ‘de Villars’ is one of the finest examples to emerge from the storied Delage brand – known for producing flamboyant machines for the super-rich. Indeed, the extravagantly styled example, with its tapering sport body coachwork, was first shown at the Concours de l’Auto de Printemps in 1938. It won the Grand Prize, quite a feat considering that at the pinnacle of the streamline era it was competing against all the major marques of the day. The Delage sold new for $7200 USD, making it one of the most expensive models in the world.
Finally, Fritz Burkard's Pearl Collection is outlined in the 13 minute video above.
1932 Duesenberg Model J Figoni Sports Torpedo
Owner: Lee R. Anderson Sr., Naples, Florida
Qualifying win: 71st Annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (2022)
Event website: Pebblebeachconcours.net
Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, California, U.S.
When: 21 August 2022
Next event: 20 August 2023
Images in Gallery: 9 (link to gallery)
In 2022, when the above Duesenberg won "best in show" at the Pebble Beach Concours, it was the marque's seventh win at the world's most important concours, behind only Bugatti and Mercedes-Benz which have won it nine times each.
Duesenberg is a marque that only existed for 24 years yet it achieved much in that short time – Bugatti began in 1909 (production lapsed twice, but still totals 87 years of production and counting) and the two halves that merged to form Mercedes-Benz began in 1886 and 1890 respectively.
In its first decade of existence, Duesenberg became the first American car to win a Grand Prix (1921 French GP), it won the Indianapolis 500 three times (1924, 1925, and 1927) and when wunderkind E.L. Cord acquired the company in 1926, he decided to package the world-beating performance into the most upmarket automobile available, offering a home-grown alternative to the foreign cars that successful people had purchased until then: Mercedes-Benz, Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Rolls-Royce et al.
The Model J was squarely targeted at the world's most successful people in the world's most successful country. The base Duesenberg Model J cost 10 years salary for the average worker by the time it had been "bodied" by a coachbuilder, and it was launched at the New York Automobile Show on 1 December 1928 – not far from Wall Street where the "Great Depression" officially began 10 months later on Black Tuesday, 29 October 1929.
The Duesenberg Model J and its subsequent supercharged SJ and (Special Speedster) SSJ developments offer one of the most intriguing, fiscally-obscene and scandalous tales in automotive history, yet Cord faced the adversity of the Great Depression with the same cold calculation that made him a business tycoon at such a tender age. He remains one of a handful of people to have been pictured on the cover of Time magazine more than once.
He reasoned that despite tens of thousands being evicted from family homes because they couldn't pay the mortgage or the rent, and unemployment running above 25%, there were still plenty of successful people out there and he went after them aggressively. Cord was a natural marketer, and having inherited the performance brand values of Duesenberg’s racing success, he parlayed the performance into real world terms by coining the slogan "The only car that can pass a Duesenberg is another Duesenberg.”
Then, in addition to the print-based advertising campaign associating success with Duesenberg ownership, Cord deployed one of the most successful "influencer" campaigns in history, 80 years before it became common practice. There were two aspects to the influencer campaign, the first being a celebrity endorsement deal where he created special ultra-fast stylish Duesenbergs for the two leading male movie stars of the day – Gary Cooper and Clark Gable – giving them use of the cars for six months in a deal the detail of which has never been fully disclosed. Though advertisers had just begun using the celebrity appeal of sportsmen such as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth to sell product, Cord was the first to identify the power of the matinee idol in crafting an exclusive brand. So closely did Cord play his cards that just how he managed to leverage his influence with the movie studios so successfully is a mystery to this day.
The Clarke Gable and Gary Cooper deals were the most visible, but there seems little doubt that Cord was pulling strings behind the scenes as a who’s who of movie stars soon found themselves driving Duesenbergs: Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Mae West, Dolores del Rio, Ginger Rogers, Rudolph Valentino, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Joe E. Brown, Clara Bow and Marion Davies were all Duesenberg owners, which is such a comprehensively complete roster of the stars of the day that it seems implausible without some form of invisible incentives being offered.
Silent movies had just evolved into "talkies," every town in America had a cinema, and the motion picture had become the most powerful medium by which you could influence the public. The magazines and newspapers of the day were only too happy to run staged imagery of the newly anointed Gods and their chariots and if you look through the image gallery of our story on the Gary Cooper Duesenberg, you’ll see many images of the above stars and their Duesenbergs. Selling a luxury car in the greatest financial downturn in history was hard work, but on the back of the illusion of success created by the movie star connection, Cord did manage to assemble a battalion of celebrity customers.
Ettore Bugatti created his Bugatti Royale specifically for royalty but sold not one to a "blue blood." E.L.Cord by contrast, sold cars to the playboy heir to the the British throne (the Prince of Wales), Prince Nicholas of Romania, Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Alfonso XIII of Spain.
Other high profile celebrities who purchased a Duesenberg included Ethel Mars, Briggs Cunningham, Howard Hughes, Edward Beale McLean (who purchased the Hope Diamond for his wife), Captain George Whittell Jr., William Randolph Hearst, Philip Knight Wrigley, band leader Paul Whiteman, Samuel Northrup Castle and Mrs Payne Whitney. The “Duesy” was just as successful on the other side of the tracks, with gangster Jake "The Barber" Factor a customer, Al Capone buying one for his girlfriend Gladys Walton and a Duesenberg was the trademark wheels of Owney Madden, owner of Harlem's infamous Cotton Club.
Duesenberg is one of those brands that captures the ethos of American society. Only 481 hyper-exclusive Duesenbergs were built, and because most were sold during the Great Depression, when only remarkable people could afford to pay an automotive couturier to dress (body) them, every one has a provenance worth reading.
As we wrote recently when a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Gurney Nutting Speedster won the Trofeo BMW Group for Best of Show at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023, "it is difficult to comprehend the sheer presence and distorted scale of the behemoth and we suggest a look through the image gallery to grasp the opulence of this land-based leviathan."
The provenance of this car begins with the original owner, a Peruvian sugar heir named Antonio Chopitea, who ordered the car in Paris, had it elegantly dressed by Figoni et Falaschi, and in one of those mysterious "deals" done in a hedonistic society, it was then used in the Paris-Nice rally and a concours event before Antonio took delivery. From there, the history of the car gets quite vague. It is believed to have arrived in America after the war, with the car and body subsequently separated and sold, with two different cars using the Model J chassis/drivetrain and Figoni body until quite recently.
Rob Myers (the RM in RM Sotheby's) played a role in bringing the two original pieces together for Lee R. Anderson Snr. and once Anderson had the pieces of the original car, a three-year restoration was undertaken with RM Auto Restorations (RM Sotheby’s in-house restoration shop), which resulted in the winning car.
There's more to the story that is told in our pictorial coverage of the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1956 Jaguar D-Type
Owner: William Pope, Scottsdale, Arizona
Qualifying win: 15th Annual The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering (2022)
Event website: Peninsula.com/en/global-pages/the-quail
Where: Quail Lodge & Golf Club, Carmel Valley, California, U.S.
When: 19 August 2022
Next Event: 18 August 2023
Images in Gallery: 6 (link to gallery)
The Jaguar D-type is such a distinctive car, and has such a striking family resemblance to the mass-produced (72,500 unit) E-type that it is easy to forget what a landmark automobile it was in its day. Designed by Malcolm Sayer, an aerodynamicist who joined Jaguar from the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Sayer's first car (the C-Type) won Le Mans twice, and he followed that up with the D-Type, which won Le Mans three consecutive times (1955-1956-1957).
He also designed the E-Type which Enzo Ferrari called, "the most beautiful car in the world" and was the first racing car for the road to sell in such large numbers. The E-Type democratized genuine performance motoring, detracting from just how special the D-Type was and still is.
The D-Type’s aerodynamic shape used the same motor as its predecessor, yet was 30 mph faster. The weight-saving efficiency and strength of the monocoque design, plus its pioneering use of disc brakes, enabled it to stop faster and handle better than its competition. The competition often had engines double the size and far more resources, but the D-Type punched way above its class.
Owned by Scottsdale property developer Bill Pope, whose car collection is so large that it fills his private 70-car Scottsdale Car Museum, this Jaguar D-Type won itself a spot in the final of the Peninsula Classics de facto world championship by taking out the top prize at The Quail in 2022, the 70th anniversary of Jaguar’s first Le Mans win.
The car was praised for “its superb construction, design, attention to detail, workmanship and extensive restoration process.”
1937 Bugatti Type 57 S Vanvooren
Owner: Andrew Pisker, Monaco
Qualifying win: Trofeo BMW Group (Best in show) Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2022
Event website: Concorsodeleganzavilladeste.com
Where: Villa d’Este, Italy
When: 20 to 22 May 2022
Next event: May 2024
Images in Gallery: 14 (link to gallery)
The Bugatti Type 57S is the stuff of legend. Like the Ferrari 250 GTO (34 units), the 57S was produced in just enough numbers to be regularly at auction, but not enough to ever satisfy the demand. It was the magnum opus of Jean Bugatti, the son of the maestro who promised to surpass his father’s legend, but died driving the Type 57G “Tank” that twice won Le Mans.
The Bugatti Type 57S also wore some of the most beautiful bodies ever to grace an automobile, such as the Aérolithe, the Atalante and the Atlantic. These days, the remaining Type 57S examples are so closely held that you’d be hard pressed to buy one for less than $10 million, and hence when you see one that is rarer than the total specimen count of 42 and exquisitely beautiful into the bargain, it’s probably in a concours and wearing a winners garland.
This Bugatti 57S was the winner of the Trofeo BMW Group for best in show by the jury at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2022. It was bodied by traditional coachbuilder Vanvooren, located in Courbevoie near Paris, with its clean, razor-sharp lines restored to perfection, and won Class A, “The golden Age of Elegance: The Art Deco Era of Motor Car Design” on its way to the coveted Trofeo BMW Group.
This car is the first Type 57S of just four known to have been bodied by Vanvooren as convertibles, and like all elite motorcars, every detail of its history is known. One of the previous ten owners was a Vice President of General Motors, who swapped the Bugatti inline eight-cylinder engine for a Buick V8. The engine spent four decades in oblivion before being tracked down via an Internet search, purchased, rebuilt and restored to its rightful place. Redemption always makes for a wonderful story, and there could be no greater retrieval of dignity than the journey from being cast aside to becoming the heart of a world championship car.
1934 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe 2022
Owner: Harry Yeaggy, Cincinnati, Ohio
Qualifying win: The Amelia Concours d’Elegance 2022
Event website: Ameliaconcours.com
Where: Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
When: 6 March 2022
Next event: 29 February to 3 March 2024
Images in Gallery: 3 (link to gallery)
This Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe J-531 is owned by serial collector Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati and took out the 27th annual running of the Amelia concours. One of the last Duesenbergs produced, this LaGrande Convertible Coupe could top 115mph and was originally owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post (General Mills founder, businesswoman, socialite, philanthropist and collector of fine art - and the world’s wealthiest woman). Marjorie used this car as her Long Island summer house car until 1962. Harry Yeaggy had it restored to its original specifications.
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta by Zagato
Owner: David Sydorick
Qualifying win: Salon Privé 2022
Event website: Salonpriveconcours.com
Where: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, U.K.
When: 31 August to 2 September 2022
Next Event: 30 August to 2 September 2023
Images in Gallery: 11 (link to gallery)
If the name David Sydorick seems familiar, it's because the his 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B won the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, the Pebble Beach Concours and subsequently took out the 2018 Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award, causing us to write an article entitled The world's most acclaimed concours car.
This time around, the Sydorick Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Zagato has seen them get another spot in the final of the world championship for concours cars, which is becoming something of a habit because this car has previously won the Cavallino Classic and has been in the final eight of the Peninsula Classic Best of the Best before. No-one has yet won it twice, but there's a first time for everything, and this car has all the credentials to put yet another prestigious lump of silverware in the Sydorick trophy cabinet.
This 250 GT TdF (Chassis 0515GT) is one of just five 250 GT long-wheelbase Ferraris designed by Zagato and has plenty of juicy provenance beyond David and Ginny Sydorick's ownership which began in 1999. It was built for one of Ferrari’s best customers, independently wealthy racing driver Vladimiro Galluzzi, who passed it on to another independently wealthy racing driver Luigi Taramazzo, with the car being both raced and shown at concours events during the 1950s, across Italy, and Sicily, and Calabria. Most importantly, the ultra-lightweight V12 has a handcrafted Zagato body with that distinctive double-bubble roof.
Hence it has a shape that somehow plugs into some primal connection in the human DNA that has previously only been used for reproductive purposes, and it represents one of the very few cars that took the original exquisite lightweight coachwork of the car that was dominant in the Tour de France rally from 1956 to 1959, and made it better. Not surprisingly, this car had been through many owners and more than one colour scheme prior to it being prepared by David Sydorick for concours display.
When it was purchased in 1999 it was all white, but has since been rotisserie restored to its birth colors of cobalt blue with a cream roof and blue leather combination. Not as flashy as some of the others in this field of eight cars, but a "dark horse" that cannot be discounted.