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When Not Winning is Still an Honor – The Pebble Beach Best of Show Nominees

2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 1937 Delahaye with coachwork by Franay

While watching the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance awards ceremony and viewing the four contenders for the best of show award, it was apparent all of the four choices were outstanding. The Best of Show winner, the 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Sport Cabriolet has already been covered here, and in this post the three runners up are featured. All photos are courtesy of Richard Michael Owen.

This outstanding 1937 V-12 Delahaye began its life in a different form, as that of a racing car. With René Dreyfus behind the wheel, the French car defeated both the Mercedes and the Auto Union teams at home on the Montlhery track, a high-speed banked oval.

During the war years, it was hidden in the French countryside. In 1946, the accomplished French coachbuilder Franay accepted a commission to re-body the racing chassis from a Frenchman, who wanted a fast and stylish road car. The design was drawn up and this attractive convertible coupe bodywork was constructed for it. Franay ended up with the car when the client did not return to claim it and entered it in 1946 Paris Auto Salon. The following year it won the 1947 International Concours d’Excellence.

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  •                        1937 Delahaye V-12 Franay convertible coupe owned by Sam and Emily Mann.

The coachbuilder sold the car in the early fifties and after passing through the hands of a number of owners, industrial, auto and truck designer Phillippe Charbonneaux acquired it in the early eighties. He took the Franay body off of the car and installed it on another Delahaye chassis and built and installed a racing car body for it.

Sam & Emily Mann were able to purchase both Delahayes in the late nineties and returned the convertible coupe coachwork to the 12-cylinder racing chassis, as it was when constructed in 1946. At the same time, it was fully restored to a high standard.

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  •            V-12 Delahaye racing engine that powered the chassis to a win on the Montlhery oval track.

1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost with coachwork by Kellner & Sons of Paris 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

  •                  1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Franay Torpedo Phaeton owned by Douglas Magee.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was “second to none” in the high-quality luxury car market in the teens leading up to World War I. This 1914 chassis was sold when new through Rolls-Royce of France and bodied for a Portuguese customer as a Torpedo Phaeton by the renown French coachbuilder, Kellner & Sons of Paris.

It remained in Portugal until the 1970s when it returned to England as a bare chassis. Douglas Magee acquired the chassis in 2009 and the original Kellner body when it was found in the Netherlands in 2012. Both were reunited and then shipped here for a highly detailed restoration.

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  • The attractive and well-engineered Rolls-Royce 7-liter L-head six cylinder engine. The original French cabinetry with burled walnut accents (below) outfitted with traveling accessories. 

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 1953 Abarth 205A 1100 Sport with Ghia Coachwork 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

  •                             1953 Abarth 205A 1100 Sport owned by Kelly Kinzel of Calgary, Canada.

This 1953 Abarth 205A 1100 Sport is a tiny little car that makes a big impression. So much so that Kelly Kinzel’s car that he actually restored himself, took the best in class win over a pair of serious automobiles – a 1946 Delahaye 135 MS Pourtout Coupe and a 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Saloon.  

The Abarth was bodied by the Ghia design studio in Turin, Italy, and first shown on the Ghia stand at the 1953 Turin Salon next to the Dodge Firearrow. This body design, constructed on a competition chassis, is both futurist and quite smooth for the time, is believed to be the work of Giovanni Michelotti.

After a short tour of the European auto shows, the Abarth-Ghia was sold to William Vaughn in New York. He was known for installing American made V-8 engines in foreign sports cars and displayed it at the New York Auto Show in 1954 as the Vaughn SS Wildcat.

The car then disappeared from the scene and became more decrepit as it passed from one owner to the next and finally ended up as a basket case. Kinzel and both the vision and the skills needed to restore the car back to its former beauty over a period of five years.

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11 responses to “When Not Winning is Still an Honor – The Pebble Beach Best of Show Nominees

  1. I have doubts that grey tires were ever offered for sale in America in the early days of the automobile. I’d like to see proof and I don’t mean a white tire that has been exposed to a dirt road for some time.

    • Tony; I’m a bit confused as to the point that you are trying to make? Get on eBay to review the photos of the pre-1915 Pierce-Arrows, and you will see numerous examples of light colored tires. These photos are black and white, so I can’t tell exactly what shade they were, but they were definitely light in color (without carbon black in them). Most often, the front tires on these cars were without tread. If you are questioning whether the tires that are available to modern collectors are not faithful copies of a vehicle’s original equipment, then we are in agreement. If your question was whether a specific color (gray) was offered in America at the time, I doubt that that could be proven, unless an advertisement could be found attesting to
      that fact. In this instance, though, we are referring to a European-made car, so all bets are off!

      • My “argument” is not with the beautiful Rolls Royce in the finest of condition. I find it difficult enough to
        follow what happened in US automotive history, so European tires are beyond my knowledge. My beef is with the reproduction of tires that I am fairly certain were not made or were hardly made. The early tires were white(the last car that the factory installed all whites that I have found, was ’23-’24 Studebakers). To
        make grey tires, you would have added something. That something would have added heat to your tires on a hot day. It’s tough enough to find a market for white tires today without diluting it with questionable grey ones. Those that wish to have the tires that were on their car when new, may find themselves on waiting lists with higher prices due to grey tire demand.

  2. Weren’t those Delahaye V-12s actually pushrod engines? The heads did have two rows of rocker arms like a Chrysler Hemi, so it does look like a d.o.h.c. motor, though there’s no space for any kind of drive mechanism for a cam.

  3. I read somewhere that the early car tyres were indeed light grey, which was the natural colour of the rubber compound used with zinc oxide added to improve wear. Another source implied they started out pale grey or off-white but faded to white with exposure to sunlight. Later, iron oxide was added which gave other colours between tan and red, but carbon black soon became the standard.
    And yes, I too thought the Abarth lacked seats, they must be very low!
    Regarding the Delahaye, if Sam Mann acquired both cars and reunited this body and chassis, does anyone know what happened to the remaining parts?
    Anyway, I would gladly make room for any of these three beauties in my garage.

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