“I took a mortgage on my home because it was the most expensive car I ever bought. Then I took it home in boxes and pieces,” says Lothar Schuettler, a Darnestown, Maryland, collector, as he shows off his 1937 BMW 328 Roadster.
It took Schuettler six years to put all those pieces back together, the retired executive estimating he did about 80% of the work himself, everything from cutting and shaping the steamed oak pieces that formed the frames for the rear fenders to recreating missing screws and bolts that needed to match the original factory pieces.
But, “It needed to be done. It was a part of history,” said Schuettler, standing on the 18th fairway at the tony Pebble Beach golf course. He was one of about 200 collectors participating in the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, generally considered the world’s most elegant and exclusive classic car show.
To get an invitation to the Councours is an honor that, for a collector, is on the par with getting nominated for an Oscar. Organizers target only the rarest, most desirable – and, with a few notable exceptions, the most beautifully restored classic cars.
Schuettler is one of the exceptions, a high-end collector willing and able to get his own hands dirty. Far more often, vehicles will be turned over to professional restoration specialists. That was the route Charlie Potts took with the 1958 Ferrari race car he got a few years back. “It was pretty beat up,” he explained, having been raced extensively.
Bringing a car like that back to life “all comes down to time,” according to Potts, who estimated a classic that will become Pebble Beach quality will require as much as 4,000 to 5,000 hours of “intense” work.
And, in many cases, owners receive an invitation to participate in the show before they have finished their work. That was the case with the exotically styled 1948 Delahaye 135M owned by David Disiere. It was one of the standouts among a selection of the French marque to be showcased at this year’s Concours.
Disiere’s Delahaye made its debut at the 1948 Paris Motor Show and changed hands several times before being purchased in 1960 by a French shipping magnate who dreamed of setting up his own automotive museum. But when his business went bust, the car was abandoned and sat in a barn for the next 67 years.
It was covered with rust and there was even a bird’s nest inside when Disiere purchased it in 2015. He had it shipped to New Jersey, where it was brought back to life by Stone Barn Restoration. The project was a frantic one, the work being completed just a week before the annual Concours.
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The 1938 Delahaye 135M being displayed by the Petersen Automotive Museum wasn’t in much better shape when it was found under an olive tree in the Algerian Mountains, noted Leslie Kendall, curator of the Los Angeles museum.
The French-made cars have been a popular staple at the Pebble Beach Concours over the years, and were once among the world’s most popular with European glitterati. “These were essentially fashion accessories of their day,” explained Kendall, adding that a Delahaye would cost as much as “a couple homes in the nice part of town.”
Today, a well-restored version could be worth even more. Started in 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has spawned a week-long festival of automobiles around the Monterey Peninsula, including an assortment of classic car auctions. And collectors weren’t shy about writing big checks.
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A 1955 Jaguar D-Type race car became the most expensive British car ever sold, the gavel coming down on a winning bid of $21.78 million at the RM Sotheby auction. Meanwhile, a 1962 Shelby Cobra gathered a $13.7 million bid to become the most expensive American car ever sold.
The Cobra was the first ever made by the late racer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby. Exclusivity is one of the keys to commanding a high bid at auction. And few things are more exclusive than a trophy winner from Pebble Beach, one of the reasons collectors are willing to put so much into a restoration project.
Experts say they’d be surprised if they didn’t see a number of this year’s Concours entrants put their own cars on the block sometime soon. Whether that will happen with this year’s winner remains to be seen, but taking home the Best-in-Show trophy can add millions to a car’s value.
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The honor this year went to a 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet owned by collector Richard Mattei, a first-time entrant at Pebble Beach. The car once belonged to guitarist Eric Clapton who described it as, “the most fun I’ve had off stage and out of bed.” The Lancia is now a rock star in its own right.
One response to “Rare Barn Finds Among the Highlights at 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance”
And the big news out of Ford design studios is a convertible cup holder. So sad.