A car with a long racing history and a one-of-a-kind convertible that had to be put back together from parts long separated into boxes took the top honors Sunday in the inaugural Desert Concorso, which was staged on the golf course driving range at the Shadow Mountain resort in Palm Desert, Calif.
The best in show trophy went to a 1957 Maserati 450S originally raced extensively on the West Coast and more recently in vintage races there and in the Midwest by its current owner, Tom Hollfelder. In addition to its best in show award, Hollfelder’s Maserati won the Fangio Award, given to the car that best exemplified the spirit of the multi-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio won two of his five titles driving for the Italian automaker, which celebrates its centennial in 2014.
Taking honors as best in show first runner-up was a 1931 Bianchi S8 that is unique in at least two ways — it not only is only ’31 Bianchi S8 convertible ever built (compared to 250 S8 hardtops), but is the only S8 with coachwork by Graber. The car has its steering wheel on the right side of the passenger compartment because it originally was sold for export to Sweden, where drivers used the right side of the road at that time.
The Bianchi was disassembled into a variety of boxes when Roy Sayles bought it. Sayles had set out to buy an Austin Healey 3000. That car’s owner was 90 and in failing health and told Sayles he had another car that Sayles could have if he promised to complete its restoration.
When the 90-year-old said “have,” he meant it; Sayles could have the other car for free if he promised to finish the restoration. Sayles said he bought both cars — paying $1,000 for the Bianchi — which took four years and an additional $200,000 to restore into its now-stunning status.
Though much better known for building bicycles, Bianchi also built motorized bikes and three-wheelers and started producing automobiles as early as 1905.
We’ll have additional coverage soon, including an Eye Candy photo gallery.