Remarkable pre-war Lancia scoops top gong at Pebble

| 24 Aug 2016

A striking 1936 Lancia Astura Pininfarina Cabriolet has won Best in Show at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, after beating more than 200 of the world’s best cars and motorcycles. 

The car is one of just six ever built and features stunning deep-black Pininfarina coachwork with intriguing curved glass side windows, power roof, a split windscreen and an interior clad in woven willow with wood-faced instruments. A tall grille flanked by large twin headlamps and wheel discs dripping with chrome give the cabriolet an elegant and purposeful appearance that helped raise the Lancia above 27 fellow class winners to scoop the top prize. 

Despite being one of a handful of unique examples built for an Italian Lancia dealer, the Astura eventually found its way to the United Kingdom, where it was discovered rotting in a hedge in 1962. The car was quickly shipped back to Italy, where it was the subject of a no-expense-spared restoration by Pininfarina. Soon after, the Lancia was bought by rock star Eric Clapton, who once described it as being “the most fun I’ve had offstage and out of bed”, before being sold back to the firm. It then spent a number of years in a museum.

Credit for the car’s condition, however, belongs solely to its current owner Richard Mattei. The Arizona-based collector commissioned a six-year restoration to bring the car up to its current  concours-winning state. 

The three-way scrap for the top prize was also contested by a 1931 Stutz DV-32 LeBaron Convertible Victoria and a 1938 Delahaye 165 Figoni et Falaschi Cabriolet, which finished top of their classes before making it to the final stage. 

This year’s Pebble Beach Tour – which enables entrants to gain a green ribbon and points towards their overall score – took place in truncated form thanks to the Sobranes wildfires, which were still burning near Big Sur. Green ribbons were still awarded, but gave no advantage over those cars which didn’t take part in the drive out.