With so many of the world’s most important concours d’elegance canceled in 2020, only four vehicles were nominated for The Peninsula Hotels’ annual Best of the Best Award. And the winner was… the 1954 Ferrari 750 Monza by Scaglietti that earned Best of Show honors at the 2020 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida.
“The 1954 Ferrari 750 Monza was chosen from a selection of four nominees crafted by automakers from Italy, Germany and the United States,” according to the Peninsula Hotels announcement, which included the other finalists:
* The 1969 Porsche 917 KH Coupé, coachwork by the factory, that won Best of Show at the 2020 Concours of Elegance Hampton Court Palace.
* The 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Spider, coachwork by Zagato, that was Best of Show at the 2020 Salon Privé.
* The 1929 Duesenberg Model J Town Limousine, coachwork by Murphy, that was Best of Show at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
“It was a difficult task for our judges to select a winner this year,” added Michael Kadoorie, well-known car collector chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, which owns and operates The Peninsula Hotels.
“Our judging procedures had to be carried out remotely and unfortunately the main awards event had to be cancelled, with social distancing measures and safety our top priority.”
However, he added, “it is always a great pleasure to spotlight the remarkable achievements of the automotive industry, and to create a small spark of joy in the current challenging times. These classic vehicles are an enduring testament to human artistry and ingenuity.”
The 750 Monza debuted with a 2.0-liter engine in the inaugural Grand Prix of the Imola Autodrome in June 1954, where driver Umberto Maglioli won the race for Scuderia Ferrari.
After the race, the car was equipped with a 3.0-liter engine and won the Monsanto Grand Prix and posted a first and a pair of seconds at the Nassau Speed Week while being driven by its owner, Alfonso de Portago.
De Portago sold the car to Sterling Edwards, who founded the Pebble Beach Road Races, where he entered the car, winning twice. Edwards quit racing after his friend, Ernie McAfee, died while racing. Edwards sold the Ferrari to his engineer, Bob Whitmer, who replaced the Ferrari engine with a Chevrolet V8 and continued to compete in races.
After the early 1960s, the car spent nearly 50 years disassembled but carefully preserved in a warehouse in the San Francisco area. It was acquired by Tom and Jill Peck and in 2016 its restoration was assigned to Bob Smith Coachworks in Gainesville, Texas.
The two-year process including guidance from Ferrari historians Marcel Massini, Alan Boe and David Seielstad, as well as from Whitmer and Sterling Edwards’ son, Hammond. With Ferrari Classiche, they not only provided original documents and toolboxes but photographs that were used through 3-D printing to duplicate some irreparable parts and also to repair damage to the car’s body from its racing days.
The restoration included the livery employed when the car entered the Carrera Panamericana race in 1954.
The restoration completed, the car won the Enzo Ferrari Award at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and 2020 Best of Show at the Cavallino Classic.
“It is a true honor to be recognized by the venerable judges of The Peninsula Classics,” Tom Peck was quoted in the award announcement.“Like so many classic cars, this one has been both a labour of love and the product of dedicated teamwork. The Best of the Best Award is a crowning achievement for everyone involved.”