Pre-War cars have a sense of glamour which is all but elusive in the modern car vernacular. The characteristic brightwork, stylized bodies and statuesque appeal are major head-turners, even if old cars aren’t your thing. The 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance offered an exceptional array of pre-war showstoppers.
1928 Isotta Franschini Tipo 8A S Castanga Landaulet
Does this look a little familiar? The Castanga Coupe de Ville model is the car made famous in the movie Sunset Boulevard. The Tipo 8A was at its time the most powerful straight-8 engine in the world and featured Isotta’s highly regarded three-speed synchromesh transmission. Not entirely rare, about 950 Tipo 8As were built during the 1925-1931 model run, though all had unique coach built bodies.
Carrozzeria Castanga of Milan was one of Italy’s finest coach builders prior to WWII, creating premier bodies for royalty, movie stars and other important enthusiasts. Castanga coachwork sat atop a number of the substantial cars of Alfa Romeo, Duesenberg, Mercedes-Benz and certainly the luxurious Isotta Franschini. There were ten Isottas on the field sporting Castanga Coachwork for both open and closed car classes.
1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A
This robin’s egg blue car was the most colorful cars in the Isotta Fraschini line-up, alas it was originally a less vibrant hunter green. Though repainted (many years ago) much of the car is in unrestored condition, including some unbelievable parquet woodwork on the rear deck. This 8A sports a torpedo body created by Cesare Sala of Milan. The tiny hand painted Victory or Death motto is rather poignant on the concours field.
You might also recall another 8A, which took Best of Show at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1924 Avions Voisin C 4S Sport Tourisme
Avions Voisin, once the status symbol carmaker of Parisian elite, tried to make their engineering and design marvels a bit more economical with the introduction of the smaller C 4, building approximately 900 between 1924 and 1925. Financially a car for the masses could provide necessary cashflow to aid the higher end of the business.In 1924 the C4 became the C4S upping the power to 1328cc and making the optional front-wheel brakes standard. A torpedo (sport) bodied version was also produced.
This C 4S Sport Tourisme with the patented disappearing top is one of two known to exist.
While plaid might seem unusual on a car, it was a standard offering called Écossaise at the Voisin factory as seen in these incredible hand colored design papers seen at the Mullin Automotive Museum.
1936 Bugatti Type 57 Binder Coupe
The Bugatti Type 57 was first introduced in 1934 was the last and most commercially successful production car for Bugatti. Engineering from the race cars was now put into use in the luxury car and is considered by many the best car of the era. The Type 57 had numerous bodies many designed in house, the Atlantic and Atalante being some of the most stylish versions. This car was designed by the Parisian Coachbuilder Henri Binder, known for the ultimate car, the Bugatti Royale. Isn’t it interesting how this car, not just from this vantage point but with the bulbous roofline, appears much larger than the same Type 57 Coupe in the background with the Gangloff body?
There were numerous cars which fit the pre-war showstopper category, notably the Best of Show Winning 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer, but the four above actually made us stop in our tracks. As always Pebble Beach has no shortage of truly stunning cars.