The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award is a very simple concept: take the winning cars from each of the eight most important concours events around the world each year, and have them judged by an unimpeachable panel of experts, creating an annual champion of champions.
The award is in its third year and has understandably become the defacto "world championship" for concours events in short order.
In 2017, the winner was a 1954 Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta (pictured above), following on from its win at the 2016 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este.
The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award has been held during Monterey Car Week for the first two years of its existence, but the defacto "world championship" concours event didn't quite fit alongside the world's best known Concours d'elegance and from 2018 onward, the award will be announced during Rétromobile in Paris on February 8, 2018
The finalists are essentially already known, as they comprise the winners of the Amelia Island Concours de Sport, the Cavallino Classic, the Chantilly Arts & Elégance Richard Mille, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, the Concours of Elegance (UK), the Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d'Elegance, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and the Quail Motorsports Gathering.
The finalists under consideration for the award are as follows.
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider by Touring
Coachwork and design by Carrozzeria Touring
Winner | 2017 Amelia Island Concours de Sport
March 9-11, 2017, Amelia Island, Florida, USA
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider that won the 2017 Amelia Island Concours de Sport was part of the A. Dano Davis Collection, and one of just 12 built as Touring Spiders, being one of seven using the long (Lungo) chassis.
In its day, this car was the ultimate Italian sports car of its generation and one of the fastest road cars in the world thanks to its twin-turbo, DOHC, 180 hp, 2.9 liter motor and Grand Prix heritage. The chassis and motor were directly derived from the world's first genuine single-seat Grand Prix racing car, the Alfa Romeo Monoposto 'Tipo B' P3, a car which won countless Grands Prix during the 1930s in the hands of Tazio Nuvolari, Rudolf Caracciola, Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi, not to mention a young Italian racing team which went on to even greater things – Scuderia Ferrari.
Indeed, so coveted is this model, that when RM Sothebys took one to auction at Monterey in 2016, it was the first Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 to appear at auction this century and was described in the auction catalog as "the Italian equivalent of the Bugatti Atlantic."
It subsequently fetched US$19.8 million to become one of the 10 most valuable cars ever sold at auction. The previous Alfa 8C 2900 to go to auction was sold by Christies at Monterey in 1999, fetching $4.1 million and also becoming one of the 10 most valuable cars ever sold at auction at that time.
1951 Ferrari 212 Export Cabriolet
Coachwork by Vignale, design by Michelotti
Winner | The Gran Turismo Ferrari Cup, Cavallino Classic
January 25-29, 2017, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
This car was originally built in 1951 and finished in black for the Portuguese Ambassador to France, Jorge da Cunha d'Almeida Araujo, subsequently being exported to America where it has since been part of numerous elite automotive collections, winning countless concours events. The tiny 2,562 cc V12 with a kerb weight of just 800 kg changed hands in 2016 and was given a thorough restoration, resulting in its spectacular showing at the Cavallino Classic.
1936 Bugatti Type 57 SC Coupé Atlantic
Coachwork by Bugatti, Design by Jean Bugatti
September 9-10, 2017, Chantilly Château, France
Generally regarded as one of the finest automobiles of all time, the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupé was styled on the famous Aérolithe concept car designed by Jean Bugatti in 1935, and hence had the same "dorsal fin" design used in the concept car due to the Elektron magnesium alloy used, which could not be welded.
Though the Atlantic Coupés used aluminium, and could have been welded, the distinctive design endured and the three Atlantics extant (four were built) are among the most valuable in the world.
The winning car at Chantilly Arts & Elégance Richard Mille 2017 came from the Mullin Automotive Museum, and between it and its two siblings, has won most of the major concours events at one time or another. If I was framing a bookmakers market, this would be the car with the shortest price.
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale Prototipo by Bertone
Coachwork by Bertone
Winner | Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
May 26-28, 2017 | Villa d'Este, Cernobbio, Italy
The "Best of Show" Award at Concorso d'Elegenza Villa d'Este is judged by a jury and known as the Trofeo BMW Group. This year it went to the 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo Coupé, styled by Bertone, and presented at Villa d'Este by Corrado Lopresto of Italy.
The success of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale Prototipo seemed historically appropriate as 60 years prior, in October 1957, the aerodynamic prototype with its lightweight 1,3-liter 100 hp motor was presented to global acclaim by Alfa Romeo at Autosalon Turin. The Prototipo serves as the visual link between Franco Scaglione's legendary Alfa Romeo Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica design studies and the production Giulietta Sprint Speciale models that were to follow.
1933/35 Lancia Astura Aerodinamica Coupé by Castagna
Coachwork by Castagna
Winner | Concours of Elegance, UK
August 31 - September 2, 2017 | Hampton Court Palace, London, UK
Between the wars, Lancias were technologically exceptional vehicles and were the choice of Vittorio Mussolini, son of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, when he decided to go racing. He ordered a body built by Castagna, and this one-off is the result. The car has recently won several awards at major concours events, being the recipient of a recently completed seven-year restoration.
1957 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet
Coachwork by Pininfarina
June 29 - July 2, 2017 | Goodwood House, Chichester, UK
The 250 series established the Ferrari legend and makes up roughly half of the top 100 most valuable vehicles ever sold at any point in time – quite some achievement for Ferrari. Berlinettas and spiders dominated racing, while coupés and cabriolets were sold to prominent clients who enjoyed their Gran Turismo capabilities and did not mind displaying their wealth.
Pininfarina had become Ferrari's favorite coachbuilder and penned this supremely elegant open two seater that was a perfect match for the music of its 3-liter, V12 engine.
1929 Mercedes-Benz S Roadster by Barker
Coachwork by Barker
Winner | Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
August 20, 2017 | Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, California, USA
The 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer which took out the Rolex Best of Show Award at Pebble Beach in 2017. The car won the coveted Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 for well known racing personality, team owner and entrepreneur Bruce R. McCaw.
The Mercedes-Benz S Roadster was the forerunner of the Mercedes-Benz Spezial Roadsters of the 1930s, with its Ferdinand Porsche designed 7-liter supercharged engine. With lightweight tourer coachwork by Barker of London, the car was bespoke built for British race car driver Lord Howe, and has been restored to its original Curzon Blue, the Howe family color.
1964 ATS 2500 GTS Coupé
Coachwork by Allemano, design by Scaglione
Winner | The Quail Motorsports Gathering
August 18, 2017 | Quail Lodge Golf Club, Carmel, California, USA
ATS is not a well known marque as less than 10 cars were ever produced. The new company came about when a group of senior Ferrari personnel grew tired of the interference of Enzo Ferrari's wife in company matters and put an ultimatum to Enzo. The result was an exodus of senior staff who banded together to create ATS.
Buoyed by the prospects of this car, the fledgling company over-reached and went racing in Formula One, failed miserably and the backers fled, and the company folded. This particular vehicle is a lightweight special and hence the most desirable of the few 2.5-liter V8 road cars produced.
Bruce Milner, the owner of the award-winning 1964 ATS 2500 GTS said during the award ceremony, "the car hasn't been shown for 16 years, when it won at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, so the award is completely unexpected."
The Judging Panel
The Best of Show winners above will be assembled and judged in the subterranean garage below The Peninsula Paris next February, and the winner of The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award will be announced at a private dinner on Thursday, February 8, 2018, during the Rétromobile event. The underground garage will also serve as the venue for the exclusive reveal after-party following the private announcement.
The Best of the Best will be judged by a jury of 24 automotive experts, designers and celebrities: Anne Asensio, Chris Bangle, Peter Brock, Ian Callum, Ian Cameron, Luc Donckerwolke, Fabio Filippini, Henry Ford III, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Ralph Lauren, Jay Leno, Flavio Manzoni, Charles Gordon-Lennox (Duke of Richmond and Gordon), Nick Mason, François Melcion, Gordon Murray, Shiro Nakamura, Ken Okuyama, Adolfo Orsi Jr., Rana Manvendra Singh, Ratan Tata, Jean Todt, Gordon Wagener, and Edward Welburn.
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