An immaculately restored 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet has topped a stunning list of entrants to win the top gong at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The quality of its recent four-year restoration told, and it proved a popular winner over more elegant and extrovert competition, which included Sam Mann’s superb 1937 Delahaye 145 Franay Cabriolet, winner of the European Classic Late class, and Grant Kinzel’s sleek 1953 Abarth 1100 Sport Ghia Coupe, which placed first in the Postwar Early class.
The Isotta Fraschini, which is owned by Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky sports a 7.3-litre engine and was re-bodied by Swiss coach builder Ramseier in 1931, to be shown at the Paris Auto Salon the following year. It was one of the most expensive and exclusive motor cars of its day, and was breathtaking both on the concours lawn and the Tour of Elegance, which took place earlier in the week.
“I love the cigarette lighters,” said Patterson. “You should see them! I wondered a while ago if they worked, and I’ve got a blister on my finger to show they do.” Patterson enjoyed success at Pebble Beach for the second time: “I won here in 2010 with an all-white car, and now I’ve won with an all-black car. I don’t know if I’ve run out of colours or what!”
The success of the Isotta Fraschini represented a return to business as usual for the concours judges, who had selected a post-war car for the first time in the modern era in 2014 – a 1954 Ferrari 375MM Scaglietti Coupe.
“From the moment that Cesare Isotta and the Fraschini brothers founded their company, they were known for building prestigious cars, and this particular example is very stylish and powerful,” said concours chairman Sandra Button. “Even when resting on the stage, it seems to be in motion, and it is filled with emotion. There is a lot of passion in this car.”