“Whatever wins the Concours today affects the market tomorrow….” said seasoned classic car specialist and TV host Alain de Cadenet during Motor Trend’s live coverage of this year’s Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach. In contrast to 2014, when a post-war Ferrari was the surprise winner, this year Pebble Beach has once again awarded its top prize to a luxurious pre-war classic.
Whether this affects markets or not, the success of the 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A is an interesting development in its own right. The Milan-based company is seen by many as one of the leading luxury car manufacturers of the 1920s and ‘30s. And it’s not just Italian fans that say its products were on par with Rolls Royce’s before the War. In its early days, Isotta Fraschini also produced race cars good enough to score successes at the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio. This pedigree of technical excellence and aura of luxury were always going to make an Isotta Fraschini car a contender for winning the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In fact in 1995, a 1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo B Viggo Jensen Cabriolet d’Orsay has won Best of Show at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
A closer look at this year’s winner reveals a luxurious car with a remarkably sober and clean body design. Everything is in just the right in place, creating a simple elegance. The styling of the coachwork made for the car by Swiss body shop Carosserie Worblaufen in 1930 may not be as spectacular as the Art Deco styled Bugattis and Delahayes, the sinister looking Cords or Cadillacs, or the impressive pre-war compressor Mercedes. But the Swiss coachbuilder’s style was a hit from the start, winning the 1932 Grand Prix d’Honneur in Cannes.
The Pebble Beach judges’ vote shows that the classic car world is not all about the market or hyping a certain brand, era or style. This year’s prize honors an exceptionally well-designed piece of automobile art. It would be interesting to know whether US collector Jim Patterson already knew that this car could be a winner at Pebble Beach when he bought it in Europe in 2014.
All photos courtesy of Concours d’Elegance and © Kimball Studios.