1928 Mercedes-Benz wins 2012 Pebble Beach Best of Show
Paul and Judy Andrews' elegant, sporty Mercedes 680S Saoutchik Torpedo takes the coveted trophy.
As the smoke from the traditional fireworks settled on the podium of the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the formidable nose and tristar pendant of an elegant 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo emerged from the fog. Paul Andrews of White Settlement, Texas, piloted his big gray Mercedes with the swooping fenders onto the green ramp to accept the trophy for the 2012 Best of Show award, and in doing so claimed the seventh such prize for Mercedes-Benz, the first since 2001.
With bodywork by legendary French coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik — the Concours this year featured an entire class dedicated to vehicles that bear that famous man's handiwork — the low-windshield Mercedes was in the same impeccable condition as when it first bowed at the 1928 New York Auto Show, despite nearly 30 years in storage before its overhaul.
Andrews believes only 13 of the 680S Saoutchiks were created, with just three featuring the sporty, low windshield. The owner cited the car's "great lines and beauty" but also noted that the supercharged 6.8-liter engine boasts "great power" and "handles fantastically for the era." Recalling the roar of the engine, estimated to produce between 200 and 300 horsepower, Andrews likened the noise to "a bunch of screeching owls."
The 680S Saoutchik's interesting history surely played a part in the vehicle's win over a field of more than 220 entries. The car was originally delivered to the United States from Paris, but its first buyers failed to take delivery, and so it stood in a New York dealership as a for-sale factory car. The buyer who eventually purchased the big Mercedes wanted the gray car painted yellow, and in fact the vehicle spent most of its life in that hue. Andrews called the back-and-forth with his team over whether to return the car to its original color "one of the biggest decisions" of the overall process, one that took six months of discussion, but the car was restored to its original condition.
The genial Andrews, despite saying that he felt "overwhelmed" by the achievement, was quick to credit his team, calling attention to "a great effort by so many people to make [the award] happen." And "great effort" might be an understatement. The restoration took more than two years, and the first six months were devoted solely to researching the car's production history, making sure that every nut, bolt and screw — even where the staples were located in the wooden seat frames — would be sourced and applied in a period-correct manner. The result of that dedication was evident both in quality of the vehicle itself and when Andrews, champagne in hand, hoisted the Best of Show trophy.
After a mere four years showing vehicles at the Concours d'Elegance, Andrews was visibly shocked at his win. When one reporter noted it was a fantastic day for him, the already smiling Andrews grinned even wider and said, "I don't know if there's ever been a better one."
Josh Condon is the editor of MSN Autos' Exhaust Notes. Based in Los Angeles, his work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Esquire, Popular Science, Men's Journal and Ralph Lauren RL Magazine.