The day began at 4:30 a.m., with the Hagerty Dawn Patrol, distributing free coffee and donuts to early arrivals at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Twelve hours later, the fog had lifted, the sun was out, and the field of ridiculously beautiful cars— including a staggering collection of road and racing Ferraris that marked the 70th anniversary of the brand—was down to three finalists:
1957 Ferrari 315 S Scaglietti Spider—Owned by John and Gwen McCaw of Seattle, this is the only remaining example of two 315 S sports racers that Ferrari built to take on the Jaguar D-type. Piero Taruffi drove it to victory in the final Mille Miglia in 1957. “This Ferrari is pure sports racer,” said Hagerty Historian Jonathan A. Stein. “It screams speed and is aggressively good looking, but it has two marks against it: it’s postwar and it isn’t elegant.” But in Ferrari’s 70th anniversary year, it was great to see a car from Maranello among the finalists.
1932 Packard 906 Twin Six Dietrich Convertible Victoria—Owned by Chip Connor of Reno, Nev., this Packard is a beautiful restoration, but the shape is quite traditional and nothing really stands out to make it rise above the other finalists. Still, score one for Team America.
1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer—Owned by Bruce McCaw, older brother of Ferrari-owning John, this blue and silver boattail racer is simply stunning. Everything about it suggests power, speed, and beauty, always a winning combination.
The winner was indeed the supercharged Mercedes-Benz. With gorgeous tourer coachwork by Barker of London, it’s the sort of prewar car that even people who dismiss prewar cars can love. It was delivered to Mercedes-Benz of London for Earl Howe, a well-known British racer and co-founder of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. Howe, driving an Alfa, won Le Mans in 1931. Bruce McCaw brought the car to Pebble Beach several years ago, unrestored, and the reaction it got convinced him it was worthy of a full restoration, which was completed by Steve Babinsky.
“I’ve been to Pebble Beach 20 times, but not often with cars serious enough to win the major awards,” McCaw said after the concours. “I don’t think we ever entered a car that had potential for Best of Show, and when I looked at today’s field, well, everyone was eligible. This is a special car, and I’m happy it’s being recognized. Lord Howe gets the credit, not me. We just put the car back to what it was when he had it, as best we could.”