Last year’s inaugural Palm Beach International proved that there was room on the already busy calendar for another major concours d’elegance. Held on the grounds of the Palm Beach Polo Club, the new event showed that a glamourous location is not required to host a successful concours. The exceptionally large field left ample room for a spacious layout, which made it a joy to admire and importantly for us, to photograph the assembled collection. Event Chairman Andrew Carduner upped the ante this year by inviting Gooding & Company to organize an auction at the end of the day. While the actual location changed slightly from last year, the excellent setup was carried over and the scene was set for another successful concours d’elegance. We were on the field at from dawn 'till dusk and have captured are findings in the following report and a 200 shots slideshow
Gooding & Company Auction
Pebble Beach's only official auctioneer, Gooding & Company erected an exquisitely lit tent to display their fifty lots before the auction commenced at 4 pm on Sunday. The sale included something for everyone with cars ranging from a delivery mileage Triumph Spitfire to the highly acclaimed Talbot Lago Teardrop Coupe. While the entry to the concours grounds was expensive, Gooding’s tent was open for anybody interested and the purchase of a catalog was not required to attend the auction. The cars were welcomed on stage one by one by David Gooding and then auctioned off by renowned British auctioneer Charlie Ross.
The peak of the auction season is commonly reached around the annual Monterey weekend and Gooding fared very well again last year by achieving the best of the year sale with a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Nart Spyder selling for nearly $4 million. It proved to be a success for other auction houses as well with the multi million dollar sales of a legendary Teardrop by Christie’s and a few days later of an earlier example by RM Auctions. Headlining the Palm Beach Gooding sale was another of these 16 beauties. This particular chassis was raced at Le Mans in 1939 by the Duke de Massa and was only recently discovered in East Germany. It was purchased by the vendor in 1996 in relatively original condition; he subsequently had it carefully restored. Although the restoration was completed in 2002, only a handful of miles were covered before the car was offered in the auction. During that time it was never shown, which further added to the desirability. Encouraged by Mr Ross a fierce bidding battle between two aspiring purchasers unfolded, before the Talbot was hammered down at $3.55 million.
With no show theme to concentrate on, the wide variety of classes drew balanced attention. The cars were lined up in several rows facing the big Gooding tent at a 45 degree angle alternating between left and right for every row. The vast space available did not only benefit the spectators, but is also appreciated by the owners as it decreases the risk of damage or ‘door banging’. Complementing the usual, there were classes dedicated to outstanding racing cars and modern supercars. Judging is different from most Concours however with each class judged by the entrants. There are no ‘expert judges’, but only an ‘advisory board’ that can give the decisive vote in the event of a tie. All spectators, who received a badge labeled ‘enthusiast’, could cast their vote for ‘best of show’ as could the advisory board and the entrants.
Concluding the Cavallino Classic week, the Palm Beach International surely benefits from a strong entry list of Ferraris. Unlike last year when both of Saturday’s best of shows turned up, this year we had to settle for a whole host of previous winners; hardly a compromise. Spread out in various classes the classic prancing horse entries were highlighted by the unique Scaglietti bodied 375 MM and the bright green 250 GT Cabriolet Speciale. In the supercar class the brand new and highly exclusive Ferrari FXX captured a lot of admirers.
Both livered in striking Sunoco colours, the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and the Gunnar-Porsche 966 were typical for the diversity in the racing car class. Of particular interest were two similarly painted Porsche racing cars; a 908/2 and the 917 PA Spyder. These two open racers introduced CanAm racing to the Germans. The 908 presented was the actual winner of the Road Atlanta round of the 1970 season in the hands of Tony Dean. Another important car for American road racing history was the Collier Collection’s 1950 Cadillac Series 60 Coupe, which was the first ‘Caddy’ to finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Miles and Sam Collier.
Although it showed up at various events earlier that weekend, this was the first time the Maserati 450 S Costin Zagato Coupe was officially entered. This unique fixed head competition car was built specifically for the 1957 Le Mans race in an attempt to increase the aerodynamic performance of the potent 450 S chassis. It was not a big success and it was later discovered that the new body in fact produced more drag than the conventional ‘barchettas’. After the race the car was modified for road use by slightly lengthening the wheelbase and adding a lavish interior. After a long stay in Peter Kaus’ Rosso Bianco museum in Germany, the Maserati was recently brought to the United States for a full restoration to road car specifications. One of the other entrants sighed that he would sell half of his collection to obtain this unique combination of exuberant Anglo-Italian styling and the highly powerful 450 S engine.
At the end of the day the lucky owners found a note on their windshield with an invitation to bring their car forward and collect an award at the awards ceremony. After all class trophies were handed out, it was time for the three best in show prizes. Not surprisingly the three voting groups unanimously awarded ‘best in show’ to a 1947 Figoni et Falaschi bodied Talbot Lago T26. This combination of coach builder and manufacturer has proven to be highly fruitful, especially from an artistic sense, and this chassis is no exception. One of the first to roll off the production line after the War, this glamorous Talbot was tailored for one of Hollywood’s finest; actor turned director George Sydney. It later ended up in the hands of Pebble Beach frequenter Lorin Tryon who used the car as a daily driver for many years. In his ownership various modifications were carried through like the installation of modern gauges and a Cadillac V8 engine. Fortunately all original bits were retained and recently reunited with the car during a complete restoration by RM. The combined talents of Figoni & Falaschi, Anthony Lago and the RM restorers have turned this Talbot T26 into an exceptional vehicle and a multiple concours winner.
Similar to last year clouds frequently gathered over the show field but fortunately the rain held back long enough for the outdoor program to conclude and for us to shoot the winning Talbot. With the increase in overall quality of the entries and the addition of the Gooding auction the Palm Beach International is quickly growing into the grand finale that the Cavallino Classic weekend deserves. If this process continues, the combination of events will surely turn into the winter equivalent of the extravaganza around Monterey Bay on the third weekend of August.