WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOS: PENINSULA CLASSICS
Peninsula Classics has unveiled the line-up of eight contenders vying for its coveted 2022 Best of the Best Award. This prestigious accolade recognises the pinnacle of last season’s concours d’elegance competitors by crowning the winning vehicle in the grand awards ceremony at California’s Quail Lodge and Golf Club on Sunday, August 13, 2023. Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren are among the judges that will select the finest of the cars.
Included among the final eight are a pair of special Duesenbergs, either of which could become the first American-made car to win the award.
The first is the 1932 Duesenberg Model J Sports Torpedo that was crowned Best of Show at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Blessed with exquisite bodywork handcrafted by renowned French coachbuilder Joseph Figoni, the unique Duesenberg was the first American Pebble Beach winner since 2013.
The other Duesenberg selected is the one-of-a-kind 1934 J-531 LaGrande Convertible Coupe, which claimed Best of Show at The Amelia in 2022. Originally owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, who at the time was the wealthiest woman in the world, the LaGrande was one of the last Duesenbergs ever built before the company dissolved.
Two cars make up the French contingent of finalists, led by a 1937 Bugatti 57S Cabriolet – one of only four known Vanvooren convertibles. The beautiful Bugatti won Best of Show at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.
Next from France is a 1938 Delage Type D8-120S Cabriolet that finished first in the UK’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace. The one-off Villars-bodied car is regarded as one of the finest Delages in existence and debuted at the Concours de l’Auto Printemps in 1938.
The streamlined silhouette of the 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia Coupé is undoubtedly one of the most striking cars named as a finalist. Originally designed by inventor, racing driver and fighter pilot André Dubonnet, this unique car won Best of Show at Chantilly Arts et Elegance and boasts innovative hyperflex suspension technology designed to evoke the sensation of flight.
Having secured the Best of the Best Award three times in the past, including the previous year, Ferrari stands as the most successful marque in the award’s history. The iconic brand holds a strong prospect of adding another triumph to its name this year, with two Ferraris nominated as finalists.
A 1956 250GT Coupé is the first Ferrari nomination, and was the victor of last year’s Salon Privé Concours at Blenheim Palace, UK. While any 250GT is a very special machine, this particular example is also one of just five examples fitted with Zagato coachwork.
Maranello’s other finalist is a 1966 Ferrari 365P Berlinetta Speciale ‘Tre Posti’, which won the 2022 Cavallino Classic in Florida, US. The car is renowned for its precocious triple-seat layout and elegant styling that foreshadowed design elements of both the McLaren F1 and Ferrari Dino.
Last but not least of this year’s contenders is a 1956 Jaguar D-type that took Best of Show at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in 2022. The D-type’s voluptuous curves belie its purpose as a focused race car built to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. The combination of the car’s Malcolm Sayer-designed bodywork and Jaguar’s legendary XK straight-six makes the D-type one of the most iconic models in the company’s history.
“The vehicles this year exemplify the very best in automotive excellence and design,” asserted William ‘Chip’ Connor, co-founder of The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award. “The accuracy of restorations are becoming more precise and exquisite each year, making it difficult to select just one.”