A 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe owned by Jon Shirley of Medina, Washington won Best of Show at the 64th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, held Sunday, August 17, 2014 on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links at Pebble Beach Resorts.
History was made at an event which arguably makes history every year. The choice of the Shirley’s 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe was not a total surprise given its provenance, quality of restoration and undisputed elegance. Yet it still sent a ripple through the knowledgeable crowd gathered before the Lodge at Pebble Beach, as this was the only second time since 1954 that a Post-War era vehicle has won the top prize at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. (A 1964 Maserati Mistral won in 1968).
“This is a road-going Ferrari, and it has had quite the famous life having been designed by Sergio Scaglietti for Roberto Rossellini,” said Chairman Sandra Button. “Its design was also trend-setting. So it is fitting that this is our first postwar winner in many years.”
Shirley all by called a future victory for the 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe in a 2012 interview with Sports Car Digest: “When the Rossellini was at Pebble (in 1998) it got more votes for first in class than any car had ever gotten. I believe at some time in the next five or ten years a postwar car is going to win. So if somebody really wanted to win they should buy that car from me, freshen it up, take it back. It’s been long enough that in another five years or so that you could bring it back. It might win. If you’re going win with a postwar car it better be something that they made a very tiny number of and that’s really good because it’s one.”
According to Nic Waller, a member of the Concours Selection Committee, it was a close run thing but a fine decision: “It could not go to a better or more unique Ferrari. It’s been to Pebble before about 15 years ago [when it won First in Class], but it’s since been re-restored and a lot of time and effort taken to bring it back to exactly as it was when it was first delivered to Roberto Rossellini. In Ferrari language, in any language it ticks all the boxes.”
Rossellini is perhaps as good a testimony for the car’s elegance as one could need. As a filmmaker, whose Roma città aperta won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1946 and who was married to Ingrid Bergman, he knew a thing or two about art and beauty. Shirley, owner of the Ferrari, is another aficionado of the finer things in the automotive world. For him the reasoning behind his success was obvious, “It has super elegant lines and elegance is usually what ends up here on the ramp as Best of Show. As someone who collects Ferraris I always thought that one day it had to happen; there are a lot of great Post-War cars and I never quite understood why one had never managed to win!”
Shirley acquired his winning Ferrari back in 1995, and is first to admit he is very fortunate to own the car. Not just because of its revered features, but also the story behind its acquisition: “It was found in Paris in pieces, I was lucky to have the help of a young Englishman – who spoke French fluently – in the middle of the negotiations. Plus, we had lived in Belgium for a number of years and my late wife spoke a little French which all helped charm the owner. He wasn’t going to sell to someone he didn’t like.”
After a full restoration, Shirley first showed the car at the Pebble Beach Concours in 1998. It won its class on that occasion, but did not go further. After being used on numerous tours and rallies, the car was recently restored once more, with a focus on originality, incorporating new research. For example, leather seats were returned to their original vinyl. The final result on Sunday was dramatically different, with the car garnering Best of Show.
“The styling is very special, but I love the engine, I love to drive the car,” said Shirley. “It’s a very powerful car. It’s a racecar underneath; it’s four and one-half liters. And it’s a great deal of fun.”
Other nominees for Best of Show included a 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Fernandez et Darrin Coupé de Ville owned by Robert M and Anne Brockinton Lee of Reno, Nevada; a 1934 Packard Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria owned by Frank and Milli Ricciardelli of Sarasota, Florida; and a 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Vanvooren Sports Cabriolet owned by Lord Bamford of Gloucestershire, England.
Shirley previously won the top award at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta.