Concours d'Elegance of America : Collectors of the Year
Company press release.
The 39th annual Concours d'Elegance of America celebrated Arturo and Deborah Keller as their Collectors of the Year. The couple have attended many of the top-level concours events since the early 1980s, winning Best of Show at Pebble Beach in 1986 and 2001. Their vast collection contains some of the finest vehicles ever created and they have graciously displayed many of their vehicles at events around the world.
This year, the Kellers chose to highlight their collection of Aerodynamic Coupes from five countries including: England, France, America, Germany and Italy at this year's Concours d'Elegance of America. This was the first time all five of these vehicle had been shown together in public.
Duesenberg Model J Airflow Coupe by Bohman and Schwartz
The now famous 'Mudd Coupe' was originally built as a short-wheelbase Derham sedan. It was sold to Dr. Seeley Mudd (an American cardiologist, professor and major academic philanthropist) who set out to improve the cars' performance as well as its design. He had the manufacturer upgrade the stock Model J engine to include a supercharger, and two barrel carburetors. It is one of only five such vehicles for which this was done. Dr. Mudd then sent the car to Bohman and Schwartz to have a new body fitted. His idea was to have an aerodynamic coupe design which would be way ahead of its time: he knew what he wanted and participated in the design. The body panels were covered in leather-like cloth and the car featured a sliding sun roof, unusual in those days. The four-door sedan coachwork was thus transformed to a sleek, aerodynamic fastback coupe. A Duesenberg chassis had never received such a streamlined look.
Dr. Mudd kept this car until his death in 1968. Though the car has extensive history, the aerodynamic streamlined look of this Duesenberg sets it apart from all others.
Bentley 4.25-Litre Embiricos Coupe by Pourtout
The most famous of all Derby Bentleys, this experimental, one-off automobile is nicknamed for the man who funded its creation in the mid-1930s: Andre Embiricos, a Greek shipping magnate and race driver living in Paris. It seems Mr. Embiricos was a Bentley admirer who wanted even higher performance and more modern beauty for his new Grand Tourer Bentley.
The trend of streamlined aerodynamic coachwork was especially strong in France, with noted designer George Paulin and coachbuilder Pourtout Carrossier at the forefront. It was their collaboration with Embiricos which culminated with this sleek, lightweight alloy fast-back coachwork fitted to a 4.25-Litre Derby Bentley. Finished in 1938, it was everything the financier had asked for: state-of-the-art, beautiful, light and fast.
The coachwork, designed by Georges Paulin, was built by Marcel Pourtout. Comfort was sacrificed in order to obtain a shape as near as possible to the aerodynamic ideal. This 4.25 Litre Bentley was fitted with a high ratio back axle and a four-speed gearbox with overdrive.
It was clocked at 114.64 mph (184.5 km/h) for over an hour at Brooklands before World War II prevented further racing. After having driven 100,000 miles, this car then competed in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Its best result at LeMans was a sixth place finish in 1949 when driven by Soltan Hay and Tommy Wisdom.
More recently, the car has appeared and received awards in numerous concours', including Pebble Beach and Meadowbrook. The Kellers drove it in the 1994 Monte Carlo Rally des Voitures Anciennes; in 2012 it ran the Louis Vuitton Classic Serenissima Run in Venice; and was featured in the Le Mans Classic and displayed in the Bentley Pyms Lane Factory 'Lineage Showroom.'
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Coupe by Viotti
Alfa Romeo derives its name from a combination of the ALFA Company and Nicola Romeo. Romeo acquired the ALFA Company (Lombard Cars Inc) in 1915. Their early reputation as builders of solid thoroughbred performers led to postwar expansion in production. Early production examples include wonderful sports and racing machines, among them, the 8C 2300.
The superb 2300cc engine is the handiwork of Vittorio Jano, who joined Alfa Romeo from Fiat in 1923. The straight eight-cylinder design uses two identical four-cylinder blocks, with a dry sump oiling system. The two-piece crankshaft rides on ten bearings and has camshaft and supercharger drives located mid-block. It produces 142 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and feeds a four-speed gearbox. There are large finned drum brakes at each corner.
The cliché 'larger than life' is one way to describe this aerodynamically beautiful Viotti Coupe. It was originally built as a Touring bodied 8C 2300 Long Chassis sports racer to compete at LeMans, where it ran and finished third in 1933, driven by Brian Lewis & Rose-Richards. It also raced in the Tourist Trophy.
During this period, it was common that race cars had their bodies changed. Many were sold after retirement from racing to new owners and fitted with specially designed one-off coachwork. That is exactly what happed with this 8C. Upon its return to Italy in 1935 it was transformed into a streamlined coupe by Carozzeria Viotti S.A. of Turin, using the design of Mario Revelli di Beaumont, whose work was scientifically based on aerodynamic principles. Notice the convex windscreen, integrated headlights and downward sloping rear end. The 'Viotti' participated in the 2016 Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle.
The car has a documented history, uses all the original parts, chassis and spectacular Viotta coachwork. It is the only 8C 2300 with Viotti coachwork.
Talbot Lago T150C Aero Coupe by Pourtout
In 1936 after completing a management buy-out of his employer, Automobiles Talbot France, Anthony Lago founded the motor-racing marque, Talbot Lago. Working with his chief engineer, Walter Becchia, Lago set out to combine high-performance with beautiful coachwork, and the cars they produced exemplified that goal: they were beautiful, well-built, finely engineered and performed on the track.
The Type 150C SS was Talbot Lago's top model, and while built for competition, performing admirably in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, it may fairly be regarded even more successful as the finest exclusive touring car based on racing technology of the time.
The Talbot-Lago T-150-C chassis provided a superb platform for talented coachbuilders to construct the elegant, and often flamboyant, curvaceous coupe bodies. They were streamlined, sleek, and light enough to race competitively. Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi built twelve of these tear-drop styled cars, known as Goutte d'Eau (drop of water) between 1937 and 1939. They received the nickname, 'New York Style coupes' because the first example was introduced at the New York Auto Show. Five more were built in a different notchback Teardrop style and were named 'Jeancart,' after a wealthy French patron who commissioned the first example. Historian Richard Adatto noted that it took the Figoni and Falaschi craftsman some 2,100 hours to complete a custom body. Since they were hand built, no two Teardrop coupes were exactly alike.
This berlinetta was built by Carrosserie Marcel Pourtout. The styling was handled by their top designer, Georges Paulin, who had earlier sketched a one-of-a-kind Bentley coupe for Andre Embiricos. This fastback represents yet another variation of the teardrop style. In comparison to the earlier Figoni efforts, this example has a more masculine and aggressive appearance. The car was commissioned by Monsieur Parent, a wealthy amateur racer who competed in a few regional events.
This vehicle, chassis number 90119, was stored safely in a warehouse in Marseille and was raced after the war by Domenic Sales. An American, David Leopold, saw the car in Paris, bought it and shipped it home. It went through several care takers over the years before being purchased in 2000 by the current owner.
This vehicle is one of only four Pourtout-bodied 'Teardrop' Talbots that were built. It is powered by an overhead valve, hemispherical head six-cylinder engine that offers 170 horsepower. There is a four-speed Wilson Pre-selector manual gearbox and a wheelbase that measures 104-inches.
Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier by Sindelfingen
This 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier is an excellent example of the use of aerodynamics during the 1930s and 1940s. The name 'Autobahn-Kurier' means 'Highway-Courier,' calling up the image of a reliable messenger -dispatched with haste - on the fastest roads. The Autobahn-Kurier was built to rule the newly constructed, high-speed Autobahns in Germany. These body styles were produced in limited numbers with less than ten examples being constructed. It was a body style offered by the Sindelfingen factory and was first seen on the 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K chassis. This particular example is the second and sole survivor of only two known built at Sidelfingen on the supercharged 540K chassis.
There were two chassis lengths available, either 3290mm or 2980mm. The suspension is comprised of double wishbones in the front with coil springs, and a rear swing axle with dual coil springs and additional compensating spring. Between 1936 and 1940, Mercedes-Benz produced just 419 examples of the 540Ks. The work was completed in their Sindelfingen coachbuilding facility to suit the newly constructed Autobahn roadway. Four Autobahn-Kurier were built on the 500K chassis and two were built on the 540K chassis.
The car caused a sensation when unveiled at the Berlin Motor Show in 1938, with its long sweeping hood and aerodynamic design, recalling the famous Silver-Arrow Land Speed Record and Grand Prix cars which were dominating racing at the time. It was applauded not only for its styling, but also for its advanced engineering and performance: the straight eight engine of the earlier model 500K was increased to 5,401 cubic centimeters. When engaged with the Roots supercharger, the power was increased to an impressive 180 horsepower.
This Autobahn-Kurier was on display at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it made its restoration debut. The restoration work was performed by Paul Russell Company. The legacy of this car has some interesting stories - it was once believed that this was a gift from Hitler to an eye surgeon. The myth goes, the surgeon had saved the eyesight of one of Hitler's commanders. What really happened was this car was ordered by a Spanish eye specialist named Ignacio Barraquer after having seen an identical version of the car on display at the 1938 Paris Motor Show. This car is the last of the six Autobahn Kuriers produced. It was driven to Gibraltar from Germany where it was delivered to the new owner on November 1st of 1938. After Barraquer's death, the car remained in the family until 2004.
It was loaned to the Antic Car Club in Catalina and put on display in Barcelona. The current owner purchased the car in 2004. It won 'Best of Show' at the Concours d'Elegance of America in 2011 and the Louis Vuitton Classic 'Best of the Bests of Show' Award presented in Monte Carlo in 2012. After accepting the award the car was driven by its owners through the Alps from Monte Carlo Venice on the Louis Vuitton Classic Serenissima Run.