It was an honor to represent Porsche at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the second year in a row with a 1952 Porsche Type 540 Aluminum Sport Roadster from the Ingram Collection. The Type 540 roadster would later become known as the “America Roadster,” and represents Porsche’s first attempt to build a production race car. With only 16 hand-built aluminum Roadsters made by the coach building firm Glaser-Heuer, it’s one of the rarest and most significant Porsche’s ever built that few people know about.
Last year I wrote a story of what it takes to win class at Pebble and what defines concours restoration work. With this issue of Insights, I’d like to briefly examine what it actually signifies to be accepted to show at Pebble.
On average, the Pebble Beach Concours selection committee has sixty nominations to examine for each class and just a handful of class slots available to fill. These nominations are often the best and rarest cars from some of the most prestigious collections from around the world. The cars have either been concours restored (with an unlimited budget in many cases) by a proven restoration shop or are in original preservation condition. In other words, just to be invited and selected is a feat in itself.
Our class this year, Post War Sports, was the toughest class we’ve ever competed in at Pebble. There were six post war sport cars in our class and all six participants had the legitimate chops to reach the podium. The class winner ended up being the Le Mans winning Dan Gurney driven 1966 Ford GT Mark IIB Coupe with incredible race history and second place went to a 1 of 1 1955 Maserati A6GCS Frua Spyder that finished 3rd in class at the famous Mille Miglia in 1955.
The Ingram Collection America Roadster, Porsche’s first production race car, also has significant history as it was owned and raced by the RV mogul John Crean and the stepdaughter of John Von Neumann, Josie Von Neumann, who won many races from 1952 – 1953. It is literally one of the first Porsche’s to win races in North America and bring exposure for the brand in their most important market.
Placing third in class was an initial hard pill for our restoration team to swallow. After completing over 4,200 hours of restoration work in a condensed time frame of seven months, it’s easy to understand the emotions involved in such a commitment. Usually with these kind of hours, a concours restoration takes 2 to 3 years to complete and it’s a real testament to the abilities of our staff that we were able to pull off this herculean effort.
With time for reflection, we are grateful for beating the odds with making it back to the lawn. Then humbly, we recognize that there were three other participants in our class that were not rewarded for their professional efforts in restoration work.
It’s easy to lose perspective when you have focused so much energy into something. We are so fortunate to work on and restore such significant pieces of automobile history. There are collectors and restoration shops that never receive the opportunity to show at Pebble. In the end, this marks the fourth time we’ve shown at Pebble and the fourth time we’ve finished on the podium. That’s not bad math, and something we can always be proud of.