Everything seemed pretty normal Sunday afternoon at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, until they announced the winner of Best of Show and the crowd knew that something momentous had just happened.
This year, the judges’ choice for the top prize fell far afield from the convention established over decades, when you could pretty much count on the winner being some lush pre-war classic.
Instead, Best of Show went for the first time to a Ferrari, the brand most valued at the high-end collector-car auctions happening just up the road.
The winning 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti coupe is a rare and very special car, and it does share the coachbuilt tradition of many Pebble winners. But with that, its victory feels much like passing the torch to a new generation.
“This changes everything,” concours veterans were heard saying as the finely crafted Ferrari rolled up on stage to claim the prize won by so many Packards, Bugattis and Duesenbergs in the past. Like them, the Ferrari is beautiful, graceful and hand-crafted. For today’s car enthusiasts, it is also elegant.
The last time a post-war car was chosen as the Pebble Beach Best of Show was in 1968, and 1954 before that. Pebble Beach sets the tone for all other concours d’elegance, so that now the gates have opened for great Ferraris and similar top-tier cars built after World War II to win Best of Show awards at those events, not just class awards and special prizes.
Things do change and grow. This award could raise fears that those big older classics might fall by the wayside, so it becomes up to the connoisseurs and champions of great automobiles to make sure that doesn’t happen.