One of these Four Beautiful Cars Won the Best of the Best for 2021

One of these Four Beautiful Cars Won the Best of the Best for 2021

02/09/2021

Beautiful collector cars come and go—they are created, often in the 1930s, enjoyed, forgotten, allowed to linger in decay, then, if they’re splendid enough, are rediscovered, restored, and driven onto the lawn at someplace like Pebble Beach. We should all hope for such a fate. So at any given moment, there is a handful of cars that have reached that second peak, the restored and perfected point at which they have achieved a rebirth and are being enjoyed by their new owners—and by any of the public lucky enough to get a ticket to one of the world’s great Concours d’Elegance.

But among those cars, among that annual tide of perfection, which one is truly the best, the most representative of the beauty and elegance they all once represented so long ago? How would you even begin to try to figure that out?

Luckily, several classic car aficionados have already done the heavy lifting for you and have established a way to do just that. Today, they announced 2020’s winner.

From 2005 to 2013 that selection process and its winner was part of the Luis Vuitton Classic Awards. The Luis, as the awards should have been called but weren’t, came about as the result of the hard work and organizational acumen of journalist and classic car expert Christian Philippsen, who pretty much knows everybody in the world with a cool car. It was Philippsen who brought together everyone in the car world necessary to start the Luis Vuitton Classic Awards, which ran successfully those nine years until the passing of Luis Vuitton chairman and event patron Yves Carcelle. Along with the cancellation of the Parque Bagatelle Concours in Paris, those events spelled the end of the Luis Vuitton Classic Awards.

Then, two years after the Luis ended, or six years ago in real time, Philippsen and a hearty band of car collectors—including Bruce Meyer, Chip Connor, and Michael Kadoorie—revived the awards under the generous sponsorship and support of Kadoorie, who owns, among a whole bunch of other stuff, the Quail, where they hold The Quail A Motorsports Gathering. It was at The Quail that this small group of uber car guys hosted the reintroduction of the Best of the Best awards in 2015. Since then, every year a distinguished jury of car collectors and designers chooses the Best of the Best of classic cars from the winners of a semi-rotating list of the world’s great Concours.

This year, as you may have heard, some of those Concours were cancelled. So the selection, you could argue, was not as wide-reaching as it has been in the past. Nonetheless the following four events managed to carry off Concours in spite of or sometimes before the pandemic closed other events down: the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic, Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace, Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and Concours of Elegance Hampton Court Palace. (Some handled COVID concerns better than others.)

Each of those events picked a Best of Show, and it was those Bests of Show that were elevated to finalists for The Peninsula Classic 2020 Best of the Best Finalists. They were:

The above went to a list of judges that were about as prestigious as you can imagine. There were guys you’ve heard of like Jay Leno, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn, The Duke of Richmond and Gordon (formerly Lord March), Ian Callum, Ralph Lauren, Nick Mason, Gordon Murray, retired head of Nissan design Shiro Nakamura, and even Ferrari and F1’s Jean Todt. But there were also a few you might not know, like automotive industrialist Ratan Tata, Ferrari Enzo designer Ken Okuyama, and managing director of Retromobile Francois Melcion. You won’t find a more competent set of judges anywhere.

So what did they pick, during the time they had to debate and counter-argue among themselves via Zoom?

(Drum roll please) The Ferrari! This one was driven by Spanish racer Alfonso de Portago in the fifth running of La Carrera Panamericana.

The car made its competition debut at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1954 driven by Umberto Maglioli. De Portago raced it in several Grands Prix, winning the British GP. He won at Nassau Speed Week that year. The car then won at the Pebble Beach road races driven by its new owner, American Sterling Edwards. Edwards sold it to his mechanic, who put—blasphemy!—a Chevy V8 in it. But he kept the parts, for 50 years, and it was restored in 2016 by Bob Smith Coachworks for new owners Tom and Jill Peck.

“This year’s winner is stunning and was decided by our amazing list of qualified judges!” said car collector extraordinaire Bruce Meyer, one of the original group that founded the revived award.

“As its name suggests, this award is a recognition of excellence,” said Philippsen. “But the nominees don’t just represent some of the supreme historic achievements of the automotive industry; they also exemplify the synergy of artistry and engineering, and the immaculate restoration and preservation of heritage. These are values celebrated across myriad industries, in most every part of the world.”

All of which qualities are represented in the Monza.

It’s possible this year, 2021, may be able to host more events than last year did, and if so, look for an even more splendid representation of automotive art and engineering. For now, enjoy the Ferrari.

Do you agree with the judges? If not, which would you call the Best of the Best for 2021? Sign up to leave comments and let us know below.

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