It’s no doubt that whatever car wins the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance “Best in Show” award will be some stunning sculpture of metals, woods, glass and animal hides. Every year it is. That’s what makes it fun. Seeing a car that someone spent so much time, money and earnest passion into making it presentable to insane levels of detail.
Will all the money pay off and elevate the vehicle into that rarest pantheon calling itself a Pebble Beach winner? Here are five of the greats that every entrant from this year will be hoping to match in presentation and perfection.
5. 1952 Jaguar XK120 fixed head coupe (Winner 1952)
Cars have had numbers and letters attached to their names for decades. Sometimes it means the engine size, number of driving wheels or what model number it was to differentiate it from the rest on the drawing board. Not the XK120. XK was the new 3.4L straight-six Jaguar engine and 120 was its top speed. I’ll save you the google search and just tell you that made it the fastest standard production car when they launched it. And if you didn’t mind bugs in your face, they say you could remove the wind screen and effectively raise the top speed.
4. 1930 Bugatti Type 37 Grand Prix (Winner 1956)
The idea of building a race car for the road isn’t a new one by any means. It isn’t even an idea the 21st century can lay claim to. Back in the 1920’s, Ettore Bugatti toyed with the idea of building a race car for the masses. So, he started with his race winning Grand Prix car… because that’s just what you do. Ettore did have the good sense to realize the type 35 race engine was too high strung for everyday use, so he took the four-pot from the type 40 and dropped it in the 35’s chassis. Thus creating the naturally aspirated type 37 and super charged 37A. The Ariel Atom, Lotus T125 and KTM X-bow can all be seen searching geneology.com and finding the type 37.
3.1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B touring spyder (Winner 1988)
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which comes first, form or function? The Alfa 8C 2900 was originally purpose built to race in Italy’s famed Mille Miglia. It just happened to not only win but grab the other two steps of the podium…2 years in a row. If you’re going to win, do it in style. The 8C also claimed the title of fastest production car of its time in 1937. The combination of fluid design wrapped around two inline-fours mounted in front of one another by a single crank case made a winning mixture of form and function, which ever had precedence.
2.1936 Mercedes-Benz 500k special roadster (Winner 1986)
A lot can be learned from our past. Some solutions to our current problems may lie in the history books. For the most part art makes people feel good, whether it’s the artist releasing emotion or an onlooker enjoying pleasing lines. Born out of the German Depression after WW1, the 500K is art in motion and considered by many the most beautiful car of all time. The grille is supposed to represent the bow of a ship, and the wheel wells are the waves it’s crashing through. But what really makes me happy is the 5-liter straight-8 up front. The sound it emits is not far off a warship either.
1.1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic (Winner 1990)
Taking the number 1 spot on this list is the Bugatti Type 57 s Atlantic, based not only on its looks, but because it was born out of an insult and a stubborn ego. It is rumoured that while at a dinner party Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore, was approached by someone and told “surely to have a true luxury car you must buy a Bentley.” Jean left the party early and started sketches of what would become the Type 57. Worse things have happened after insulting a Frenchman. The flowing lines of the coupe were influenced solely by aerodynamics. Aluminum-alloy panels meant the body seams were external much like the original Mini. That’s where the similarities end, sorry Mini. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I like the look and idea of external body seams, as it reminds me of a finely pressed suit for your car.