The hallowed lawns of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, the venue of the Concours, are quite a spectacle every year for enthusiasts of vintage cars. Clearly the most coveted award in the world of vintage and classic automobiles, winning the Pebble Beach Best of Show award remains a dream for most car collectors in the world. Filled with people eager to get a look at cars that they’ll rarely ever get to see anywhere else, the extensive standard of judging and the quality of vehicles participating makes it a fine competition indeed.
Of course, every year there are special entries – and 2018 was no different, with there being a special showcase of rare OSCA sports cars, a focus on the futuristic (but unfortunate) Tucker marque, and, of course, a special class for Motor Cars of the Raj. But we’ll come to the latter in a little bit.
As expected, the Best of Show award usually goes to a car that is quite exalted, and in a supreme condition of restoration. This year was no different, with the award going to the 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, owned by David and Ginny Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California. Other nominees for Best of Show included a 1929 Duesenberg J Murphy Town Limousine, owned by the Lehrman Collection of Palm Beach, Florida, and a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Figoni Fastback Coupe owned by Robert Kudela of Chropyne, of the Czech Republic. The difference between the marques, and the fact that all three cars were made within two decades of each other reflects on the exacting standard that the Concours demands from its competitors.
India made its mark on the lawns
Coming back to the Indian participation, the continuous rise in the standards of restoration of Indian classic cars meant that many of the entrants landed prizes at Pebble Beach for their precious metal. After winning the FIVA Preservation award last year at the Cartier Concours in India, the 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost James & Co. Open Tourer, belonging to Kesri Dev Singh of Wankaner, bagged the FIVA Prewar Trophy, with the car retaining its patina over the years and for being largely original for almost a century now.
At the same time, one of the cars I’ve been a big fan of over the years, the 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Gurney Nutting Streamline Coupé, of Amir and Wendy Jetha, was awarded the Lucius Beebe Trophy. The same car was also the winner of the Class F1: Motor Cars of the Raj – Rolls-Royce & Bentley class, while second place went to the 1937 Rolls-Royce 25/30 HP Gurney Nutting All Weather Tourer of Roshini Jaiswal, while third was the 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Antem Drophead Coupé of Jagdish Thackersey.
In the Class F2: Motor Cars of the Raj class, second place went to the 1936 Alvis Speed 25 Vanden Plas Tourer of Nishant Dossa, while third place went to the 1930 Stutz M LeBaron 4 Passenger Speedster of Diljeet and Anurita Titus. In between these awards there were some other fascinating cars from India, one being the 1921 Fiat 501 S Corsa Race Car, formerly belonging to the Maharaja of Patiala’s expansive car fleet. The other being a 1931 Cadillac 452A V16, which was ordered by the then 32-year old Maharaja of Orchha who was a keen hunter – the car was even used for hunting tigers. The car was later sent to England to accompany the Maharaja’s son for his studies, and later it was exported to the United States.
However, one of most significant achievements of this year’s Pebble Beach Concours was the classic car historian, restorer and curator of the Cartier ‘Travel with Style’ Concours d’Elegance – Manvendra Singh Barwani – being awarded the prestigious Lorin Tryon Award.
The trophy – named after the late Lorin Tryon, the event’s Co-Chairman for nearly three decades, and the man responsible for drawing out the most elegant cars to Pebble Beach – is one of the most important awards given to an individual in the international classic car world. It’s presented to a person who has made significant contributions towards the promotion of classic cars. Manvendra Singh Barwani was awarded the trophy for his commitment and contribution towards classic cars and their preservation for over 40 years. He was the first to start a classic car restoration shop in India. He also helped establish the Vintage and Classic Car Club of India and stoped the export of classic cars out of India.
With India making its mark on the global classic and vintage car scene, the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours turned out to be quite a momentous event. And with the 2019 edition of the Concours showcasing Bentley and Zagato – both will be celebrating their centenaries – we can’t wait to see more of these priceless classics.