This 1958 Ferrari 335 S Spyder Named World’s Best Show Car
The proud prancing horse beat out seven other concours winners for fifth annual the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award.
Having an automobile that’s been awarded Best of Show in a major concours is an honour highly coveted by collectors. Owners of these old machines have often spent years and small fortunes chasing perfection, fastidiously restoring or sympathetically resuscitating an important piece of automotive history.
And while many thousands of local car shows and regional events take place around the world each year, what separates minor- from major-league players is an abyss of time, resources and dedication as wide as the Nullarbor. Internationally, only a handful of competitions invite the most important cars, the winner of each being recognised as the ne plus ultra of its kind.
One distinguished group of collectors—each an owner of multiple top-tier classics—got together in 2015 to organise the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award, an annual event honouring the most outstanding winners of that year’s international concours circuit, with the aim of choosing from among that small group the very best of all. Founded by Sir Michael Kadoorie, chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Ltd., and cofounders William E. (Chip) Connor, Bruce Meyer and Christian Philippsen, the contest celebrates its fifth year running with eight cars nominated for Best of the Best.
Selected and judged by a 25-member team of noted automotive designers and collectors, the examples under consideration represented almost four decades of automotive history—1919 to 1958—coming from France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. This year’s judging panel included architect Peter Marino and jeweller Laurence Graff, as well as Henry Ford III, Ralph Lauren, Jay Leno and Nick Mason.
Judging the 2019 field proved a challenge, with so many remarkable machines to consider. France was represented by the nation’s “other” famous marque, ordinarily in the shadow of Bugatti but being no less significant an automotive landmark. The Talbot-Lago 1948 T26 Grand Sport Coupé, with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, features a cyclops-like central driving lamp and cuts an aerodynamic profile that must have awed onlookers when new. It was awarded Best of Show at the 2019 Salon Privé, held at Blenheim Palace in the UK.
But despite stiff competition from the French, German and American marques, it was the 1958 Ferrari 335 S Spyder, with sensuous coachwork by Scaglietti, that ultimately won the fifth edition of the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award, presented at The Peninsula Paris. According to Jay Leno, “For 2019, we selected the Ferrari due to its extremely detailed history, including its racing heritage. Of course, it’s also an incredibly beautiful vehicle.”
When new, the Ferrari racer was displayed at the 1959 New York International Auto Show. After mechanical trouble it was later abandoned—unrepaired—in a New York customs facility. Purchased for around $1400 in 1963, it eventually landed in the collection of current owner Andreas Mohringer of Salzburg, Austria, who commissioned a ground-up restoration by noted restorer Paul Russel and Company near Boston, Mass.
The rare Ferrari garnered Best of Show at the 2019 Cavallino Classic, a Ferrari-only concours in Palm Beach, Fla., and the 2018 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, Italy. It was also the newest car among the eight-under consideration for the Best of the Best award.
Whether observers of the collector-car scene can divine anything from the result, it may suggest that more recent cars—from the 1950s and 1960s—and those with competition history, are receiving the well-deserved attention traditionally given to prewar automobiles. Whatever the trend, it’s evident that the allure of a classic Ferrari is something any automotive enthusiast finds impossible to resist.