The Zenith Award is the crowning achievement presented annually by the Antique Automobile Club of America, with the Restoration of the Year chosen from the more than 3,500 vehicles shown at AACA events held throughout the previous year.
The top prize this year went to an immaculate 1931 Buick Series 90 Sport Roadster owned by David and Susan Landow of Bethesda, Maryland, chosen by the team of judges for its comprehensive and well-researched restoration.
“The restoration took seven years to complete with painstaking research done by Landow to make certain that restoration expert John Fields had all the necessary information on materials, etc. to make the restoration exacting in every detail,” according to an AACA news release.
The annual Zenith Award, which was established three years ago, is presented during AACA’s premier event, the Grand Nationals in Auburn, Indiana, held this year at the Auburn Auction Park. Joining the four-day AACA event was the annual gathering of the Rolls-Royce Owners Association and RM Auctions’ Auburn Spring sale.
“During Saturday’s Grand Nationals, thousands of visitors strolled through more than 380 of the finest antique cars from a 1903 Ford Model A Runabout to a 1994 Nissan 300ZX Coupe, and everything in between,” the AACA release says. “Remember, only the best-of-the-best could compete in this show – every car had already been shown at multiple AACA Nationals and won multiple awards including their Senior Award.
The Buick was chosen from the field of 16 contenders – two picked from each AACA Nationals show during 2018 – in judging that took six hours to complete. The cars being judged ranged from a 1903 Cadillac to a 1973 Ford Bronco Ranger, with cars from Allard, Packard, Studebaker, Dual, Chrysler, Chevrolet and Pierce-Arrow among the competitors.
“Many of the competing owners remarked that the Buick was most deserving, though any car nominated for the Zenith Award is a winner,” AACA chief executive Steve Moskowitz said in the release. “Our Grand Nationals and the Zenith competition is a singular event bringing together the finest cars in the country.”
The winning Buick was the 36th of 843 8-94 Sport Roadsters produced that year, built on the GM brand’s 132-inch-wheelbase chassis, the largest for 1931. Only seven are known to survive. This roadster was restored in its original color scheme of Everglades Blue with Normandy Gray accents, cream pinstripes and black fenders.
The Landows are the car’s fifth owners, the first three being members of the same Iowa family.
“I would call receiving the AACA Zenith Award the single most-gratifying achievement of my years participating in antique cars,” Landow is quoted as saying in the AACA release.