A detailed presentation of automobiles from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Concours d’Elegance section is separated into 3 pages on Italian Cars: 1921-2005,
Assorted Cars: 1900-1928, and Assorted Cars: 1929-2005 plus this Overview page which
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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Index

Italian Cars: 1921-2005
Assorted Cars: 1900-1928
Assorted Cars: 1929-2005


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Alfa Romeo 1930 Testa Fissa X4723

The Alfa Romeo 1930 6C 1500 Testa Fissa Zagato Spyder.

The 6C (the number refers to the straight-six engine) was first unveiled at the Milan Show in April of 1925 with a 1500cc engine. It was a lightweight, high-performance model designed by Vittorio Jano to replace Giuseppe Meroni's RL and RM models, and was based on the P2 racing car. This was the body style which made Alfa Romeo successful. The body style continued into the mid-1950s, with examples built by the coachbuilders Zagato, Touring, Pininfarina and others.

The Testa Fissa (fixed head) engine was a small batch of engines designed in 1929 to eliminate the head-gasket failures which plagued long-distance racing. Six engines were produced in the first batch in 1929, and 12 engines were produced in late 1929 and 1930. The engines were only supplied to the top racers of the day, such as Enzo Ferrari, who started Scuderia Ferrari with six 6C Alfa Romeos, several of which were Testa Fissa competition models. This 1930 6C 1500 Testa Fissa won its class.

This 6C 1500 is a Super-Sport (supercharged) version that developed considerably more mid-range torque than the unblown engine, which made it far more effective for racing and hill-climbing. The Testa Fissa Gran Sport was Enzo Ferrari's favorite amongst all of the cars in his experience (including his own). The Testa Fissa engines were used exclusively for works cars, and closely guarded by the factory... often the Testa Fissa engines were removed and the cars were rebodied before being sold with a standard engine. The doors of this car are cut more acutely at the rear, possibly at the request of a competition driver who needed more elbow room.

Only three of the 6C 1500 Testa Fissas are known to exist today, and this car has the classic look of the later, highly desirable 6C 1750 4th series Zagato Spyder and may be one of the most original surviving Alfa Romeos of the period. The only body panels which have been replaced are the two running boards and a panel between the spare wheels and fuel tank.


Alfa Romeo 1931 Touring Spyder X4719

The 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Touring Flying Star Spyder, winner of the Elegance in Motion trophy.

The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 is one of the quintessential Alfa Romeos of its era. First introduced as a replacement for the 6C 1500 in 1929, the 6C 1750 evolved from a relatively simple road car to a very sophisticated racing machine in the five years it was produced. One of the key elements in the progress was designer Vittorio Jano, lured to Alfa Romeo from his former employer Fiat by Enzo Ferrari. Jano's first design for Alfa Romeo was the 6C 1500, which featured a small six cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft. At the 1929 Rome Motorshow, the 6C 1750 was introduced. The 6C 1750 was intended to carry a larger and heavier fixed head, double overhead camshaft engine, which would form the base for a series of very successful competition engines. The most powerful version was the Super Sport, which was fitted with a 95 bhp supercharged engine.

Carrozzeria Touring of Milan built a special body for the Alfa Romeo which has gone down in motoring history as the Flying Star. Josette Pozzo won the Coppa d'Oro di Villa d'Este in the 1931 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, for which this car was built. Touring had built nearly identical bodies for Isotta-Fraschini and Fiat chassis and bodied many Alfa Romeos, but the Flying Star was the most decorated of their sport bodies. Touring's signature touch is at the running boards where the fenders separately swoop and intertwine to the top and bottom of the chassis rail. The rest of the body's overall shape is similar to the standard competition coachwork but was unique in detail.

The off-white bodywork, interior and wheels are ornamented by a nickel-plated accent which runs the length of the body and integrates with the door hinge before hugging the rear fender. Three louvers on the hood adopt the same lines and mimic the elliptical coma trail of a star. The interior is all-white with a huge white steering wheel and upholstery, contrasting with the black dashboard and a brass shift knob engraved with the original owner's initials. The one piece windscreen is sculpted to imply the competition history of the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750.

An unusual two-tone 1934 8C 2300 Touring Spyder with large louvers ventilating the engine compartment.
Note the aerodynamic treatment of the front end, with the body flowing smoothly to the radiator and fenders.


Alfa Romeo 1938 Mille Miglia X4512

The Alfa Romeo 1938 8C 2900B Mille Miglia. This car won Best in Class for owner Ralph Lauren.

This 8C 2900B is one of the four Works cars built by Alfa Romeo and Carrozzeria Touring for the 1938 Mille Miglia. Driven by Carlo Pintacuda, number 142 led for most of the 1000-mile Alfa dominated race. At the last checkpoint, rear brake problems sidelined it for 14 minutes. While repairs were being made his rival Clemente Biondetti flew by in his 8C 2900B which had a Tipo 308 Grand Prix engine. Pintacuda later caught up, but was blocked by Biondetti and unable to get by, finishing second.

 The four 1938 8C 2900B Mille Miglia cars and the 8C 2900B coupe built for the 1938 24 hours at Le Mans were the standout cars in the 8C 2900 series, and all five survive. The streamlined coupe was entered when the Le Mans racers were almost all open cars, and led most of the race until a dropped valve caused it to retire with a lead of more than 100 miles over the next car.

The four Corto (short wheelbase) Mille Miglia cars were entered by the in-house racing team of Alfa Corse which took over for Scuderia Ferrari. Three of the four had standard 8C 2900 engines tuned to yield 220 hp, and the fourth (assigned to Biondetti) used a 295 hp engine from the 8C-308 or Tipo 308 Grand Prix car, modified from the 8C 2900 for the 1938 3 liter Grand Prix class. Two of the four cars did not finish the race (a crash and a blown engine), but one of these later won the 1938 Spa 24 hour race with Pintacuda driving. The 1,2 finish in the 1938 Mille Miglia followed the 1,2,3 sweeps achieved by the 8C 2900A racers entered in the 1936 and 1937 Mille Miglia, cementing the Alfa Romeo reputation for making superb Grand Turismo racers.


Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Coupe Touring X4515

The Alfa Romeo C52 Disco Volante Coupe was built with a Superleggera body by Carrozzeria Touring after the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo from motorsport at the end of the 1951 season. The racing department was used to experiment on chassis and engines, and their first experimental car developed jointly with Touring was one of the most famous designs of the 1950s. Except for the suspension, the C52 was an entirely new design. Derived from the 1900 road car it used a state-of-the-art tubular spaceframe chassis which offered superior rigidity to previous tubular ladder frames at no additional weight. The Touring body was designed to be aerodynamic from all directions, creating an oval design with large overhangs on either side of the driving compartment and a full underbody. It was given the name Disco Volante (Flying Saucer), inspired by the UFO craze. The 1900 engine featured a new aluminum block replacing the cast iron of the original (bored slightly to 2 liters) and two twin-choke Weber carburetors, and produced 158 hp. Top speed was 220 km/h (137 mph). The car was intended to be driven by Juan Manuel Fangio at the 24 hours of Le Mans, but for some reason the Alfa Romeo team did not show up and the car was never raced.


Ferrari 1956 410 Superamerica X4585

First unveiled as a complete car at the Brussels Salon in 1956, the Ferrari 410 Superamerica was built in three different series with a five liter 340 hp version of the Lampredi V12 engine from the Formula One cars, which became obsolete as a racing engine when the Formula One rules were changed to reduce engine size. This car is from the first series which had a Pininfarina body design similar to the 250 GT on a 2800 mm wheelbase. The car could reach speeds in excess of 150 mph and was one of the fastest cars in the world at the time. It was an extremely rare car (only 16 Series I Superamericas were built and only 36 were produced in all three series), and carried a price tag near $17,000 (in 1956 dollars), over twice the cost of a Mercedes 300SL. Many of the 410SA coupes had side vents behind the front wheels, but this example, 0481SA does not.


Ferrari 1957 250 GT Spyder X4558

The 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder Speciale (chassis 0655GT) was the Pininfarina Series I Cabriolet prototype, a one-off which was built specifically for the 1957 Geneva Auto Show, with a long hood, covered headlights, raised rear fenders, recessed tail lights and a raked windshield without vent windows. It was one of the first cars to use Dunlop disc brakes, and it had prominent chrome accents on the hood scoop. The rear bodywork was different than the later production versions, with more prominent tail fins and lights at the peaks. The driver’s door has a rounded 45-degree cutout. It was sold to Formula One racing driver Peter Collins, who had a spectacular year for Ferrari in 1956 and used this 250 GT as his personal transportation.


Ferrari 1970 512S Modulo Pininfarina X4797

The Ferrari 1970 512S Modulo was an experimental one-off prototype berlinetta built by Pininfarina with two overlapping body shells separated by a rectangular indentation at the waistline. The upper surface of the car is a single arching curve from nose to tail. On the lower shell below the side windows, an inverted trapezoid in sheet metal repeats the styling of the side windows. The wheels are faired in both front and rear, and access to the passenger compartment requires sliding the entire front section of the roof with windshield and side windows forward on special rails. The Modulo was built for the 1970 Geneva Motor Show and won 22 design awards. It was displayed at the 1970 Osaka Expo, and was the symbol of Italian design in Mexico City in 1971.


Cisitalia 1949 Pininfarina X4522

The 1949 Cisitalia 202 Pininfarina Coupe.

The handcrafted aluminum Cisitalia 202 Coupe by Pininfarina, first shown at the 1947 Paris Motor Show. The aluminum panels were shaped over wooden forms, and the time this required reduced production to only 170 between 1947 and 1952. The two seat Cisitalia transformed postwar automotive design. Based on aerodynamic studies for race cars, the hood, body, fenders and headlights form a continuously flowing surface. This was revolutionary. Considered one of the most attractive cars ever built, when the New York Museum of Modern Art created their 1951 exhibit on automotive design: “Eight Automobiles”, the Cisitalia was displayed with seven other cars. It is still part of the permanent collection at the MoMA.


Maserati 1954 Pininfarina X4529

The Maserati A6GCS/53 Pininfarina Berlinetta (chassis 2089) was originally fitted with a Fantuzzi Barchetta spyder body with very small doors and raced successfully by Francesco Giardina, winning its class at the Mille Miglia (fourth overall) and winning its class at Targa Florio in 1955. The car was eventually crashed, and the body was replaced with the fourth and final Pininfarina body in 1959, which was removed from chassis 2060 and replaced with a Fiandri Barchetta body.

The Maserati A6GCS was Maserati’s answer to the Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa, both powered by 2 liter Formula 2 engines. The Ferrari was a four cylinder, the Maserati was a 170 hp twin-cam inline 6 with dual ignition, one of the last engines designed by the Maserati brothers before leaving the company. There was no association between Pininfarina and Maserati due to the Ferrari contract, so the four Pininfarina bodies were all made under private commission by the Maserati dealer in Rome under protest by Ferrari. The Maserati A6GCS/53 Pininfarina Berlinetta is considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever built.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Concours d’Elegance: Italian Cars 1921-2005 page.


Napier 1902 X4710

The Napier 1902 model D50 Gordon Bennett Racer, winner of the 2005 Charles C. Chayne Trophy.

The 1902 Napier D50 30-40 hp racer has an inline four cylinder 6.5 liter engine developing 44.5 hp at 950 rpm. It was the first British winner of an International race, winning the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1902 driven by Selwyn Francis Edge. With its shaft drive three speed transmission and its distinctive green color which would become the source of British Racing Green, the Napier D50 was the only British winner in an international event until Henry Segrave won the French Grand Prix in 1923.

D. Napier & Son was a British engine and "brass era" automobile manufacturer. The period before World War I was called the "brass era" due to the prominent brass fittings used on the "horseless carriages" of the time (see the many examples below). Napier were one of the most important manufacturers of aircraft engines in the early to mid 20th century. The 12 cylinder Napier Lion engine which came out in 1917 was the most powerful engine in the world in the 1920s, as was the H-type 24 cylinder Napier Sabre engine of World War II, which in its later versions produced 3500 hp (the final test engines produced 5500 hp).


Pierce Arrow 1903 X4704 M

The Pierce Arrow 1903 15 hp with Detachable rear-entrance Tonneau.

The Pierce Company got its start making world renowned ornate gilded birdcages and other household goods. Pierce later branched out into bicycle spokes, complete cycles, a steam car, then the Diamond, a De Dion-type gasoline tricycle which they later converted to a four-wheeler for safety reasons. Their next vehicles were the Pierce Motorette and Stanhope, classic horseless carriages with the engines under the seat. These were followed by the  first Pierce Arrow, the car which would make Pierce famous. The 2-cylinder 15 hp De Dion engine was mounted under the hood rather than below the seat. The open car with detachable tonneau could carry four adults in individual armchair seats.

The previous cars from Pierce, the Motorette and the Stanhope, had the engines mounted below the seat, used chain drive instead of a shaft and a tiller instead of a steering wheel. The 1903 Arrow was a major leap forward. The undercarriage, wheels and rims were completely finished, and it had  considerable brass trim including broad brass plates along the shoulders of the louvered hood. The motor from the French De Dion Bouton model Q was used as the Pierce motors were not refined enough at the time to be placed in the Arrow. The original Arrow is extremely rare... this is the only surviving example of the 1903 model. The De Dion engine was replaced with a Pierce-built engine for the 1904 Arrow.

The 1903 Pierce Arrow took many of its styling cues from French cars of  the period. The hood design is very similar to the early Renault, Mors and Darracq hoods which became one of the first trends in automotive design. The rear entrance hatch to the passenger compartment was also a feature of contemporary French cars. The 1903 Pierce Arrow was a larger car than the earlier Motorette and Stanhope models, with a two speed  manual transmission using the reverse gear which had initially been used on the Stanhope. Only fifty of these cars were built in 1903, and this car is the only survivor. The Arrow was Pierce's most successful product, and they gained him much attention by winning a number of  touring races, especially with the Great Arrow.


Pope Toledo 1904 X4699 M

The 1904 Pope-Toledo Type IV Touring Car with Rear Entrance Tonneau.

The top of the line automobile from Pope Manufacturing Co. of Hartford, Connecticut, which produced cars from 1903 to 1914. The first Pope-Toledo in 1903 was a wood chassis two seat open car with a three cylinder 3 liter engine. The 1904 model IV was a front engine, rear wheel drive FR or Système Panhard car (so named because the 1895 Panhard was the first to use the FR layout system), with a water-cooled inline four cylinder 24 hp engine and a channel steel frame. The spark and throttle levers were on the steering wheel, an innovation at the time. A Pope-Toledo won the world’s first 24 hour endurance race in 1905.

The 1904 Pope-Toledo Type IV Touring Car had a rear-entrance tonneau body which could seat 5 passengers. This body style was all the rage in the first few years of the 20th century. The front seat access was from the passenger side. The headlamps were fueled by acetylene gas while the side lamps used kerosene fuel.


Queen 1905 X4776

The 1905 Queen model E Touring Car Side Entrance Tonneau.

The only survivor of fewer than 15 Queen Model Es produced, this lime green “brass era” touring car sports a full radiator surround, hood piano hinges, five front lamps and numerous fittings of polished brass. The engine is a 196 cubic inch opposed two cylinder rated at 16 hp, with a single updraft carburetor and a two speed transmission with planetary gears and reverse on an 84 inch wheelbase chassis. The Queen model E came with a royal blue side entrance body for four to five passengers and two lamps for $1000. Additional lamps and the detachable tonneau were extras. Total weight was 1500 pounds.

The 1905 Queen model E has a fixed tonneau, Acetylene headlights, a Rushmore dashboard-mounted searchlight and kerosene cowl lights, an  E&J acetylene generator, elliptic leaf springs front and rear, a single chain drive, and whitewall tires. The opposed two cylinder engine had been patented by C. L. Blomstrom in 1903. Note the steps below the side entrances. For the 1906 model year, these steps were replaced with running boards and the tonneau was made detachable.


Kissell Kar 1912 X4780

The 1912 Kissel Kar model 4-40 Semi-Racer.

The only known Kissel Semi-Racer (gentleman’s speedster) which is documented as a semi-racer from day one.
There is at least one other Kissel Semi-Racer, a 1914 4-40, which was rebodied (it was originally a Touring car).

The Kissel Kar 4-40 Semi-Racer has a 40 hp inline 4 cylinder L-head engine with cylinders cast in pairs, a float-feed carburetor, a cone clutch, and a Warner 4-speed sliding gear transmission on a 121 inch chassis. A drop-forged front axle with semi-elliptic springs are at the front and a live rear full floating axle with 3/4 elliptic springs are at the rear. The brake and chain speed levers are placed outside the driver’s door.

This Kissel 4-40 Semi-Racer has Ostrich upholstery. Note the dual spare tires on the rear deck (required by the unimproved roads of the day), and the oval gas tank which is placed at an angle on the rear deck between the spare tires and the seat.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4605 M

The 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Morgan Double Phaeton.

This 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, built on a rare short wheelbase chassis, was ordered in 1909 by Lord William Pirrie (later 1st Viscount Pirrie), former Lord Mayor of Belfast and the chairman of Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders in Belfast. It was Lord Pirrie who convinced Bruce Ismay to build the Titanic and her sister ships Olympic and Britannic, the largest ships in the world at the time they were produced. Lord Pirrie’s Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder Morgan and Company of London for fitting of a ceremonial Double Phaeton body in May 1910. It was outfitted with a plate below the windshield proclaiming it to be the “Titanic Ghost” in honor of the world’s largest ship, which was being built at the time in his shipyard at Harland & Wolff in Belfast.

The Rolls-Royce vehicles were the pinnacle of automotive design in their day. The Silver Ghost exhibited crankshaft technology well beyond that of any previous automobile. Most engines of the day had long, flexible crankshafts which were prone to noise and vibration. The Rolls-Royce had large bearings and pressurized oiling systems secured by seven main bearings, enclosed in a strong aluminum alloy crankcase which eliminated most of the noise. The loudest sound in a Rolls-Royce was said to be the clock. The crankshaft was ground to a tolerance of 0.00025” on its bearing surfaces and hand-polished to remove any surface cracks left by the grinding process. Rolls-Royce used hand-ground and hand-polished phosphor-bronze and nickel-steel gears instead of noisy chains to drive the ignition timing. The 7.4 liter six cylinder engine featured removable cylinder blocks and fixed heads, cast in two groups of three to shorten the engine, with side valves operated by a single camshaft. A three speed transmission was used, but the Rolls-Royce was famously able to be driven smoothly from zero to top speed in top gear. Shifting in the early 1900s was a chore, and the lower gears were never very smooth. The Rolls-Royce Ghosts accelerated as if they were being pulled, and were easily able to be driven at any speed in top gear without shifting.


Peugeot 1913 Skiff X4639

The 1913 Peugeot Type 150 Labourdette Skiff.

Armand Peugeot built their first steam-powered three-wheeled car in 1889 after meeting with Gottlieb Daimler. They only made four units, but these make Peugeot the oldest continually-operating auto manufacturer and the second oldest altogether. After meeting again with Daimler and his friend Émile Levassor (who partnered with René Panhard to create Panhard-Levassor in 1890), Peugeot abandoned steam and had their first four-wheel internal combustion car built by Panhard under Daimler license.  Peugeot built their first engines in 1896. By 1903, Peugeot was producing half the cars built in France, and employed some superb engineers. In 1912, Ettore Bugatti designed the 850 cc four cylinder Bébé, an exceptionally popular car. Also in 1912, Peugeot decided to return to racing, and wanted to enter Grand Touring rather than just the light cars. They entered with a DOHC 7.6 liter four cylinder with four valves per cylinder (high technology for the time), which proved faster than anything else, winning the 1912 French Grand Prix despite losing third gear and having to take a 20 minute pit stop (!). In 1913, they became the first non-American car to win the Indianapolis 500 with the same model Peugeot racer (repeating in 1916 and 1919). The next month, they repeated their French Grand Prix win with a new L5 (with a 5.65 liter engine of pioneering design).

The 1913 Peugeot Type 150 Labourdette Skiff has an inline four cylinder 7.5 liter 40 hp single camshaft engine which was derived from their 1912 Grand Prix racing engine, and was bodied by Labourdette with a more refined version of his skiff body, with a more streamlined tail and small U-shaped half-doors which did not compromise the rigidity.

The skiff (boat) body is a quintessentially French wooden construction using marine architecture, which may or may not have a boat tail. The concept traces back to the French coachbuilder Jean-Henri Labourdette. In 1912, the Chevalier René de Knyff, a director at Panhard et Lavoissor and a pioneer of auto racing who won several highly prestigious early races (including the first Tour de France in 1899), came to Jean-Henri Labourdette to have him design a new body on a Panhard 20 HP, a “very light but comfortable torpedo offering the least wind resistance”. Jean-Henri Labourdette studied hull design at Despujols, a pioneer of motor boat design, and built a three layer mahogany body on a frame of ash, with canvas between the layers. As he found it difficult to sketch the rear structure, he built the first automotive model in wax. This first skiff body had no doors to maintain rigidity, and was the first to integrate the hood, the passenger space and the boat-shaped tail in a harmonic manner unmatched in the pioneering days of coachbuilding, when cars were basically boxes. The completed body weighed only 180 kg (400 lbs).


Hispano-Suiza 1923 X4650

The 1923 Hispano-Suiza H6B Mühlbacher Skiff.

This 1923 Hispano-Suiza H6B has an unusual skiff body by Mühlbacher. One of the oldest of French coachbuilders, Mühlbacher moved to Paris in 1780. The company bodied its first car, a steam car by Amédée-Ernest Bollée, in 1885. This skiff is unusual in that the hood is also covered with mahogany (most skiff bodies have a metal hood). This 1923 Mühlbacher design was most likely inspired by the 1922 Hispano-Suiza H6B Labourdette Skiff built for the French heiress Suzanne Deutsche de la Meurthe, daughter of oil baron and early aviation enthusiast Henri Deutsche de la Meurthe, which was delivered to her in 1923.

The Hispano-Suiza, named after the birthplace of the car and the country of its creator (Spain and Switzerland), was the most expensive automobile in Europe, thousands more than a Rolls-Royce. The H6 series, introduced at the Paris Salon in 1919, was generally acknowledged as the most advanced automobile design in the world. The company sold the chassis only, and the bodies were fitted by the finest coachworkers in Europe. Emilio de la Cuadra, a Spanish artillery captain, started Hispano-Suiza in 1898 to produce electric automobiles. He hired Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt to design their first gasoline powered engines. By 1905, they were producing a series of large four and six cylinder engines for automobiles. During World War I, they provided engines for airplanes. Birkigt designed a series of pioneering aircraft engine innovations that included the first use of a cast engine block, propeller reduction gearing and a hollow propeller shaft to allow firing a gun through the propeller. Hispano-Suiza built over 50,000 V12 fighter engines during World War I, which became the most commonly used aero engines in the French and British air forces, powering over half the Allied fighter aircraft. When the war ended, they returned to automobile and engine production and developed a strong reputation for building luxury automobiles.

The H6 introduced at the 1919 Paris Salon had a 6.6 liter inline six cylinder overhead camshaft engine with 7 main bearings and  an aluminum block and head inspired by Marc Birkigt's work on aircraft engines. Apart from the new overhead camshaft, it was essentially half of Birkigt's aviation V12 design. The seven-bearing crankshaft was milled from a 600 lb. steel billet to become a sturdy 35 lb. unit, while the block used screwed-in steel liners and the water passages were enamelled to prevent corrosion. One of the most notable features of the H6 was its 16 inch light-alloy drum brakes with cast-in steel liners on all four wheels with power-assist, the first in the industry, driven by a special shaft from the transmission. When the car was decelerating, its own momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. This technology was later licensed to other manufacturers, including arch-rival Rolls-Royce. They updated the engine in 1922 to create the slightly more powerful H6B.


Delage 1924 X4630

The Delage 1924 model GL Labourdette Skiff Torpedo.

The Delage GL (Grande Luxe) was Delage's first super car, designed in 1923 to compete with Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza. The production run was very limited, only 180 chassis were created from 1924 to 1927. Louis Delage had made a great deal of money during World War I and wanted to change his reputation from making the ‘beautiful French car’ to making the ‘Best car in the world’, a slogan then used by Rolls-Royce for their Silver Ghost. Former Hotchkiss engineer Maurice Sainturat designed the 6 liter inline six cylinder engine, which produced 100 hp and was capable of exceeding 90 mph with a single overhead camshaft  and a single updraft carburetor. The GL had a 4-speed gearbox and four wheel drum brakes. The chassis cost 85,000 francs ($5,370) when new, and custom coachwork added to the price, although it was cheaper than a comparable Hispano-Suiza. The lightweight, custom-built torpedo skiff body was made by Jean-Henri Labourdette of Paris. The hood and fenders are aluminum. This is one of just six GL chassis known to survive today.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Concours d’Elegance: Assorted Cars 1900-1928 page.


Ruxton 1929 X4491

The Ruxton 1929 Model C Roadster, the fifth of eight Baker-Raulang Roadsters built, won Third in Class at Pebble Beach.

One of only six or seven remaining in existence, this Ruxton 1929 Model C Roadster was restored by La Vine Restorations with a bold and unique livery with a color scheme of light raspberry, darker on the upper hood and body surfaces, with orchid trim and beltlines and taupe accents, wheels and interior. This Ruxton Model C Roadster was an early production model which was assembled in Philadelphia as one of approximately 12 cars which were built for the New York Auto Show.

Compared with its only front wheel drive competitor, Cord’s L-29 introduced in summer 1929, the Ruxton was lower, lighter and better balanced. It had much lower unsprung weight, giving it better ride and handling. Despite the Ruxton’s advantages, Cord had its own manufacturing plant and an established dealer and distribution network. The lack of distribution and financial manipulations in the wake of the Wall Street crash doomed Ruxton. It was well engineered, built to a high standard and Muller’s transaxle avoided the shortcomings of the Cord L-29. Had a major manufacturer with an established dealer network adopted the Ruxton design it might have demonstrated its quality and performance with smashing success. That didn’t happen and today few of these extraordinarily well-engineered and attractive automobiles survive.


Cord 1930 L29 X4752

The 1930 Cord L-29 Voll & Ruhrbeck Victoria Sport Cabriolet.

The first American front-wheel drive car to be offered to the public, the Cord L-29 beat the Ruxton (shown above) to market by several months when it was released in the summer of 1929. It was inspired by the Harry Miller 1927 Detroit Special Indianapolis 500 racer, based upon his front wheel drive Miller 122, the first series-produced pure racing car, an 18 inch wide low-slung streamlined bullet he designed in late 1924. The 1927 Detroit Special was designed by Miller engineer and driver Cornelius Willet Van Ranst, who also worked as an engineer for Duesenberg and Cord. At Cord, he was instrumental in the design of the Cord L-29, which was (under)powered by a 4.9 liter 125 hp L-head Lycoming engine from the Auburn 120.

The 1930 Cord L-29 Voll & Ruhrbeck Victoria Sport Cabriolet (chassis number 2927898, engine FD 3029, body 1686) originated as one of four L-29 show cars which Cord shipped to Europe to tour the Motor Shows to help spur the European fascination with his new front-wheel-drive car. The story goes that it was decided that a custom European chassis would help promote the car, and one of the chassis from the show cars was removed and sent to the Voll & Ruhrbeck coachbuilders in Berlin, who built bodies for the finest European chassis such as Mercedes, Bugatti, Daimler, Mayback and Rolls-Royce. Voll & Ruhrbeck created a cost-no-object custom body for the L-29, which was displayed after completion at the Berlin Motor Show in February 1931, presented by the new Miss Germany Ruth Ingrid Richard.

A classic pre-war German convertible, it has massive doors, a five-passenger interior in thick leather and polished mahogany, and front bucket seats which were unknown in America at the time. The body features contrasting beltline moldings on the hood and doors and matching moldings around the doors and flowing around the fenders, a low raked windshield with a subtle glass visor, and a top with slender Landau irons which wraps around an unusual spring-loaded mechanism which assists in raising and lowering the top. The windows roll down through custom tracks which fold away and disappear when the windows and top are lowered. The top has a complete interior headliner, making the car seem like an enclosed body when the top is up.

In 1940, the car was sent to Argentina, which saved it from the fate of many great pre-war cars which were destroyed by bombs during World War II. When the car was brought to the US in the 1970s, it retained all of the custom parts made by Voll & Ruhrbeck and was the only known European-bodied Cord L-29 in existence. Restored by La Vine Restorations to its original magnificence beginning in 2004, it was completed just in time to be shown at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the first time the Voll & Ruhrbeck Cord L-29 had been shown to the world since the 1931 Berlin Auto Show.


Cadillac 1931 452A Pininfarina X4518

The Cadillac 1931 452A Pininfarina V16 Roadster, one of the oldest surviving Pininfarina designs.

At the end of the 1920s, the biggest thing in engine design was the V12, and three American companies were competing to be the first to offer a V16 engine. Cadillac was the first to achieve this difficult feat, and in January 1930 they unveiled the 452 V16. They mounted two blocks from Buick 8 cylinder engines on a common crankcase with a single camshaft to operate the valve pushrods. The engine displaced 452 cubic inches (7.4 liters), producing 175 hp and prodigious torque. Cadillac offered the 452 complete with body (mostly by Fleetwood, some by Fisher), unlike many of its competitors which offered rolling chassis to be completed by a custom coachbuilder, but they supplied 21 rolling chassis to foreign coachbuilders, including this 452 to the newly founded Carrozzeria Pininfarina in Italy. The V16 elevated Cadillac to American icon status over Packard with its V12.

Battista Farina was born in 1893, the tenth of eleven children, and he was consequently called 'Pinin' Farina, meaning 'baby of the family.' He worked as an apprentice with the family coachbuilding firm of Farina before founding his own company in 1930, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina. His first client in 1930 was Vincenzo Lancia. A year later the Maharaja of Orchha, Vir Singh II, commissioned a unique roadster on a Cadillac V16 chassis. Fewer than six Cadillacs were exported to India.


Duesenberg 1931 J Franay Sedan X4619

The Duesenberg 1931 Model J Franay Convertible Sedan “Queen Marie”, with René Lalique’s Chrysis atop the radiator cap.

This unusual long-wheelbase Duesenberg J Franay Convertible Sedan was purchased by Queen Marie of Yugoslavia after visiting the Duesenberg stand at the Paris Auto Show in 1931. One of two Duesenbergs on display at the show with Franay bodies, chassis 2465, engine J-446 with the Franay four door convertible Berline sedan body built on the 153" long wheelbase chassis cost $18,000 (the equivalent of $250,000 today). Queen Marie was known for driving her car herself, unusual for royalty at the time. She drove it extensively in the south of France and exhibited the car at the Cannes Concours when it was new. Queen Marie (Marija or Maria) of Yugoslavia was the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria through her mother, Queen Marie of Romania (born Princess Marie, daughter of Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh).

Queen Marie sold the car after the assassination of her husband, King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, in Marseilles in 1934 (one of the first assassinations caught on film) to Antonio Chopitea of Lima, Peru, who kept the car in Paris. It then passed to a Parisian brewer before being shipped to a new owner in New York. By 1941 the car was with a Mr. Warriner from Maryland. During his ownership the fenders were changed from the original long flowing factory type to the Pontoon type that it still wears today.


Duesenberg 1931 J Ornament X4615

“Chrysis” by René Lalique, the radiator mascot on Queen Marie’s Duesenberg 1931 Model J Franay Convertible Sedan.

René Lalique recognized the need to bring art into everyday life, and before World War I he created
silver and bronze bas-relief "Targa" plates for the winners of the Targa Florio races, later designing a
trophy for the event. By 1920 he envisioned a new idea, to change the thermometer which once stood
atop the radiator cap to an elegant artistic device. His mascots symbolized energy, speed and motion;
religion; individuality and form of nature; and human sensuality and sexuality in animal and human form.

Chrysis was introduced by René Lalique in March 1931. Originals from 1931 have sold for $10,000 plus.

Between 1925 and 1931, René Lalique produced 30 crystal mascots (there was a 31st, but it was produced exclusively for the British Royal Family). Today, only three complete sets of the Lalique mascots exist. Some are very rare... only 7 or 8 of the Renard (Fox) mascots are known to exist. Some of the mascots were thin and easily destroyed by flying rocks from the road.


Duesenberg 1933 J Disappearing Top X4838

The 1933 Duesenberg Model J Bohman & Schwartz Disappearing Top Roadster.

The Disappearing Top Roadster was first introduced by Walter Murphy in 1923. It featured a hinged rear deck-lid that extended to the back of the rear seats and concealed the folding canvas top. Their excellent reputation resulted in a commission from Duesenberg to create a body to exhibit on the long-awaited Duesenberg Model J to be shown at the 1929 New York Auto Salon in December 1928. Murphy eventually built 125 bodies for the Duesenberg Model J, 116 of them convertibles. This particular example was built in 1933, after Walter Murphy closed down his operation.

In late 1931, it became apparent to Walter Murphy that the demand for custom bodywork was dwindling beyond the level that was necessary to keep his coachbuilding operation going in its present state, so he sold it (after ceremonially burning all of his documentation and photographs of the Murphy shop’s bodywork). Two ex-Murphy employees offered to complete the remaining units in their own small shop, and called their operation Bohman & Schwartz. They were superb coachbuilders and operated in Pasadena, California for 12 years as a team and another 17 years independently.


Delage 1937 D8-120 S X4567

The 1937 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aerodynamic Coupe won
 Best of Show at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

This unique Delage, built after the merger with Delahaye, was designed by the Portout stylist Georges Paulin and built by the Paris coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout for Louis Delage's personal use. It was the first car which was tested in a wind tunnel. The hand-formed aluminum body with steel front fenders covers an experimental Delahaye-style 'surbaisse' chassis (very low in French) and features a mostly aluminum 4.75 liter straight-eight 120 hp engine with three carburetors and a four-speed Cotal electromagnetic transmission. The four passenger design is totally unique and is considered to be one of the purest of line and most aerodynamic of the pre-war era. The windshield is curved, which was a revolutionary achievement for the period, and there appears to be a single ribbon of glass all the way around the car.

The completed car was first shown in Paris's Grand Palais at the 31st Salon de Paris.


Nash-Healey 1953 Pininfarina X4527

The 1953 Nash-Healey Pininfarina Le Mans Roadster made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1952. It was a two seat sports car made with a Nash Ambassador six cylinder OHV engine with an aluminum head and twin SU carburetors  supplied by Donald Healey, a three-speed transmission with overdrive and four wheel hydraulic drum brakes. It had dual fuel pumps, push-button ignition, and a handcrafted steel body created by Pininfarina. At the 1952 Le Mans race, a Nash-Healey was entered, winning first in its class and third overall. Only 17 of the 58 cars entered reached the finish line in 1952.

America’s first post-war sports car, and the first introduced in the US by a major automaker after the Depression, the original Nash-Healeys were built in 1951. The car was designed with a long engine bay to allow for space to install a Cadillac V8 engine as per Donald Healey's original design, and some later owners took advantage of this to convert their cars to V8 engines. The chassis was a widened and reinforced Healey Silverstone ladder-type steel frame with Healey Silverstone independent suspension and a Nash coil-spring rear end. The original Nash-Healeys had an aluminum body designed by Healey and built by Panelcraft of Birmingham with Nash grille, bumpers and trim. Healey did the final assembly. In 1952, Pininfarina was contracted to revise Healey's original design, restyling the grille to match Nash's other models with inboard headlights and changing the two piece flat windshield to a curved single piece. The new body was steel except for an aluminum hood, trunk and dashboard.


Ford 1966 GT40 Mk1 X4803

The 1966 Ford GT40 Mark 1 coupe was one of 31 original road coupes, powered by the 289 cubic inch (4.7 liter) Ford V8 used in the Ford Mustang. The Ford GT40 program grew out of Henry Ford II's failure to buy Ferrari when Enzo Ferrari terminated negotiations. Ford was determined to beat Ferrari at the long distance races. The GT40, so named because the distance from the ground to the top of the windshield was 40 inches, was first unveiled in 1964. The prototypes designed with assistance from Lola were unable to finish at Le Mans, so the program was handed over to Carroll Shelby after the Nassau race in 1964. The Mark II cars received the 7 liter 427 engine, with which they went 1,2,3 at Daytona and 1,2,3 at Le Mans, beating Ferrari at their own game with Bruce McLaren finishing first (Ford was present to savor the victory). The GT40 proceeded to win Le Mans in 1967, 1968 and 1969, with the wins in 1968 and 1969 achieved by John Wyer in the modifed Mark I (the Mark II and IV were obsolete after an engine size rule change). Not bad for a car born purely out of spite between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari.

In 1964 and 1965 only 12 cars were made of varying specifications, with limited results. New rules for the 1966 season required that at least 50 examples had to be made to run a car in the GT class. Production began in mid-1965 on a series of racing and road versions. 87 production versions were built, and 31 were delivered with full interiors and wire wheels for road use. They changed little to make the cars ready for road use other than in the interior (the same Ford V8 was used in both, with different Weber carburetors, a heavier flywheel and a muffler for road use).


Bugatti Veyron X4477

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

The Bugatti Veyron was long anticipated since the concept was unveiled at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. This coupe was the final version shown before the official launch in September 2005, and the excitement level was high. Since its release, the handbuilt mid-engined 16 cylinder 1000 hp Bugatti Veyron Super Sport has become the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of 267.8 mph (431 km/h), taking the record from the 2005 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 at its lowly 253.81 mph. This new record caused some controversy when it was challenged by the car maker Hennessey, whose 1244 hp Hennessey Venom GT at 265.7 mph was stock, but the Veyron Super Sport had its 258 mph speed limiter disabled. After review, the Guinness folks reinstated the record, stating that the modification to the speed limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car.

I’d be willing to bet that few of these $2 million cars have been much over 100 mph, but bragging rights are important.

The Bugatti Veyron features an 8 liter W16 engine (two offset double-row banks of eight cylinders each) with four valves per cylinder (64 valves) driven by two dual overhead camshafts. The engine has quad turbochargers and does not need to rev high to achieve its 1000 horsepower. It has a 7 speed dual-clutch sequential transmission. It goes from 0 to 250 in under a minute.

The Bugatti Veyron has been widely praised as the pinnacle of automotive achievement and the greatest car in the world.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Concours d’Elegance: Assorted Cars 1929-2005 page.