World’s “Best of the Best” concours car, plus 8 finalists

A 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione became the latest winner of the Annual Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award yesterday, winning the 2021 edition of the most prestigious concours honor in the world.

The Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award selects an annual winner from the winners of eight of the most respected concours events held during the calendar year. The Ferrari became eligible after winning the Best of Show trophy at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in October 2021.

The Villa d'Este is a 16th-century villa in northern Italy which was for centuries a residence of the aristocracy – princesses, marquises, sultans, tsars and Popes have lived there. Since 1873, the villa has been one of the most charming and celebrated five-star resorts in the world, and since 1929 it has held a spectacular annual automotive beauty contest – the world-renowned Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The winner of the 2021 event, can be seen on display. Little did owner Brian Ross know at this stage, that his car would take two of the biggest prizes in the concours world in short order.
The Villa d’Este is a 16th-century villa in northern Italy which was for centuries a residence of the aristocracy – princesses, marquises, sultans, tsars and Popes have lived there. Since 1873, the villa has been one of the most charming and celebrated five-star resorts in the world, and since 1929 it has held a spectacular annual automotive beauty contest – the world-renowned Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The winner of the 2021 event, can be seen on display. Little did owner Brian Ross know at this stage, that his car would take two of the biggest prizes in the concours world in short order.

Gudrun Muschalla / Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

The Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta Scaglietti is one of just nine 250 GT Berlinetta Competiziones ever built, and is often referred to as a Tour de France model, though as the second example of the nine built, it was actually produced prior to the Tour de France victory that gave the model its famous nomenclature.

The car had a wonderful period racing history, having competed in both the 1956 Mille Miglia and the 1959 Tour de France. During its racing career, the Ferrari was modernized by Carrozzeria Scaglietti with a lowered nose, smaller grille, covered headlamps and a rear spoiler. Years later, it was discovered that this 250 GT was fitted with the first prototype of Ferrari’s 12B V12 engine.

We've been calling the Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award, the defacto World Concours Championship since it was inaugurated. It's difficult to perceive it as anything else.
We’ve been calling the Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award, the defacto World Concours Championship since it was inaugurated. It’s difficult to perceive it as anything else.

Sonny Thakur

The car was purchased in May 2000 by Sam and Emily Mann at a Brooks Auction in Monaco where the car fetched FF5.28 million (US$750,600) and the car was immediately subjected to a detailed restoration.

It was displayed for the first time post-restoration at the Cavallino Classic in 2006, 50 years after its construction, and was awarded Platinum honors and the Gran Turismo Cup for Best of Show GT. In August 2006 it it was awarded third in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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The Manns also drove the car in rally events such as the Colorado Grand and the California Mille before passing the car on at Monterey in 2016 where it was sold for $5,720,000 at RM Sotheby’s.

The 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione was sold for $5,720,000 by RM Sotheby’s at Monterey in 2016.
The 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione was sold for $5,720,000 by RM Sotheby’s at Monterey in 2016.

Darin Schnabel ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

“With such an illustrious selection of finalists this year, the judging process was especially challenging,” said The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie. “Our group of eight classic automobiles represents the pinnacle of automotive craftsmanship, artistry and engineering. All of them are excellent representatives of automotive history, but one rose to the top to receive our highest honor and recognition with the Peninsula Classics 2021 Best of the Best Award.”

After being purchased by its current owner in 2016, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione was shipped to Bacchelli & Villa in Italy for further work by the renowned restoration facility. After certification by Ferrari Classiche, the 250 GT obtained the coveted Red Book before winning Villa d’Este Best of Show and The Peninsula Classics 2021 Best of the Best Award.

Brian Ross and friends are all smiles as the trip across the Atlantic suddenly seems most worthwhile at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este on 3 October 2021. Within 12 months, it would seem doubly so!
Brian Ross and friends are all smiles as the trip across the Atlantic suddenly seems most worthwhile at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on 3 October 2021. Within 12 months, it would seem doubly so!

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

“Winning the Best of the Best Award is a great achievement and a true honor,” said Mr. Brian Ross, owner of the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione. “It is a magnificent recognition of the multiple years spent trying to get my hands on this 250 GT and the hard work that went into the years-long restoration process. All of the other nominees have fantastic vehicles so I am incredibly humbled to be selected by the acclaimed judges for this award. Winning Best of the Best is a true dream.”

The Finalists

We’ve written up nearly all of the eight 2021 finalists previously, and the image gallery contains the best photography of each car from our previous encounters. Just click on the image to get to the relevant part of the image gallery.

1957 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France

Best of Show: 2021 Cavallino Classic
Event Coverage
Date: 25 April 2021
Another unique Ferrari selected as a finalist is the 1957 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France, originally purchased by French racer Pierre Noblet. Raced extensively between 1958 and 1960, the car was purchased for a mere $1,500 in 1975 before being extensively restored and winning Best in Show at the 2021 Cavallino Classic.
Apart from having been a finalist in the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award thanks to its fine showing at the 2021 Cavallino Classic, it will cross the auction block at Broad Arrow Auctions’ first auction at Monterey Jet Center on 18 August 2022. There are three Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France models heading to auction at Monterey and they’re all previewed here.

1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale

The Cartier Style et Luxe lawn at the Goodwood Festival of Speed always contributes one of the finalists for the Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award, and in 2021 it was this 1974 Lancia Stratos that claimed the overall prize.
The Cartier Style et Luxe lawn at the Goodwood Festival of Speed always contributes one of the finalists for the Peninsula Classics “Best of the Best” Award, and in 2021 it was this 1974 Lancia Stratos that claimed the overall prize.

Copyright Amy Shore

Best of Show: Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance
Event Coverage
Date: 11 July 2021
Another contender this year is a 1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale, winner of Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance and one of 500 road-going cars required for homologation to compete in the World Rally Championship. The Stratos was painstakingly restored by Carrozzeria Dino Cognolato and is one of the finest surviving examples of the striking Italian sports car.
The car is owned by industrial designer Marc Newson, who was also one of the judges for the event, but was excluded from the judging in this class. Newson has a stable of delectable vintage racing cars and this Ferrari-engined projectile is one of many that sometimes gets rolled out for a concours event. Newson is widely regarded as one of the most influential tastemeisters on the planet, and while he has tended to keep his automotive interests separate from his work in the past, that is changing and his long term collaboration with Sir Jony Ive is now working with Ferrari. This win moved the car into the last eight in what is essentially a world championship for concours cars.

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1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier

This 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier became one of the eight finalists in Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award when it also became the 70th car to join the ranks of winners of the Best of Show Award at Pebble Beach in 2021.
This 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier became one of the eight finalists in Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award when it also became the 70th car to join the ranks of winners of the Best of Show Award at Pebble Beach in 2021.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance / Rolex

Best of Show: 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Event Coverage
Date: 15 August 2021
The sleek 540 K Autobahn-Kurier that won Best of Show at the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was initially built for the speeds of the Autobahn and is the only one of its kind in existence. Built with the same chassis, drivetrain and mechanicals that are used on the Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, it might be a surprise to readers that in the 70-year history of the Pebble Beach Concours, a Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster has never won a Pebble Beach Best of Show. The predecessor to the Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, the 500K Special Roadster, won it twice (1982 and 1986), and a 540K Special Cabriolet A won in 1973.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster

Best of Show: 2021 The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering.
Event Coverage
Date: 13 August 2021
The 540 K Spezial Roadster is an exquisite example of German engineering and luxury, featuring a disappearing top, suicide doors, and elegant lines. It was crowned Best of Show at the 2021 The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, meaning that the final eight contenders for the “Best of the Best” award contained three Mercedes-Benz 540K models and two Ferrari 250 GT TdF models.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A, with its supercharged inline eight-cylinder engine, was one of the few 100-mph road cars of the 1930s; it recently won Best in Show at the 2021 Salon Privé to claim a place in the final eight contenders for the 2021 Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award.
The Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A, with its supercharged inline eight-cylinder engine, was one of the few 100-mph road cars of the 1930s; it recently won Best in Show at the 2021 Salon Privé to claim a place in the final eight contenders for the 2021 Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award.

Salon Privé

Best of Show: 2021 Salon Privé
Event Coverage
Date: 2 September 2021
While it has always been overshadowed by the rarer Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster, the Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A is still regarded by many as the prettiest of the 540K siblings, with an outright win at the 1973 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance the model’s most celebrated concours achievement prior to 2021. That was joined by a Best of Show award at the 2021 Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva, and an entry into the final of the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award.
There’s actually a lot of information on this car available on the internet because it was sold by Bonhams at The Mercedes-Benz Sale at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, on 28 Mar 2015, where it fetched €2,760,000.

1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet

The car at right is the 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet that was awarded the "Best in Show" at the 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on 23 May 2021. The beautiful Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet was displayed by Jill and Charles Mitchell of Florida, automatically becoming one of the eight finalists in the 2021 Peninsula Classics ‘Best of the Best’ Award. At left is the 1974 Shadow DN4 that took out the "Best in Show" Concours de Sport Trophy.
The car at right is the 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet that was awarded the “Best in Show” at the 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on 23 May 2021. The beautiful Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet was displayed by Jill and Charles Mitchell of Florida, automatically becoming one of the eight finalists in the 2021 Peninsula Classics ‘Best of the Best’ Award. At left is the 1974 Shadow DN4 that took out the “Best in Show” Concours de Sport Trophy.

Best of Show: 2021 Amelia Island Concours
Event Coverage
Date: 23 May 2021
Another Best of the Best finalist was this 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet with Le Dandy coachwork by Henri Chapron that won “Best of Show” at the Amelia Island Concours. The majestic Cabriolet is an elegant car with a very colorful history. Its owners have included the King of Tunisia, the founder of the 12 Hours of Sebring, and a postman from Long Island. The car had been part of an RM Sotheby’s auction at the same venue just two years prior, so there’s lots of information available. At that auction on March 9, 2019, the gorgeous Cabriolet Le Dandy by Chapron sold for $1,352,500.

1934 Avions Voisin Type C27 Aérosport Coupe

The 2021 Concours of Elegance presented by A. Lange & Söhne ‘Best in Show’ award, voted by the owners of the cars on display, went to this Voisin C-27 Aérosport.
The 2021 Concours of Elegance presented by A. Lange & Söhne ‘Best in Show’ award, voted by the owners of the cars on display, went to this Voisin C-27 Aérosport.

Patrick White

Best of Show: 2021 Concours d’Elegance at Hampton Court Palace.
Event Coverage
Date: 5 September 2021
Another rarity among the selected finalists is the 1934 Avions Voisin Type C27 Aérosport Coupe, one of only two Type C27s ever built (the other being a roadster). The Coupe was discovered being sold for scrap before being meticulously restored in 2004 by Dominique Tessier, who constructed a new body using just three photos of the original car for reference. The prestigious Best of Show was awarded to the C27 at the 2021 Concours d’Elegance at Hampton Court Palace.

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