This year's Best In Show at the Pebble Beach Councours d'Elegance was a A 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. While this is no doubt an incredible car, it's also a bit of a safe and predictable choice. The 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe, on the other hand, would have been an inspired choice.
I saw plenty of judges with their tweedy suits and clipboards scurrying around and judging the crap out of cars, scrutinizing valve stem caps and skeptically tapping carb linkages with their fingers. I even approached them to suggest the huge orange Lincoln as an option for Best In Show, but instead of considering, they had the gall to ask that I put a shirt on and demanded I stop dripping my It's It all over the cars.
If we're brutally honest, you could have easily walked by the winning Packard, surrounded as it was by a number of other stunning old Packards, without really noticing it. That absolutely would not happen with the Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe.
It's massive, it's orange, and it has exuberant, dramatic bodywork that somehow manages to retain an elegant and refined feel. It sort of feels like a Ghia design, and while it's not, there's a good reason why it feels like that.
See, when Henry Ford II took over the company from Edsel, he wanted to make a statement about Ford as a modern, futuristic company. Henry Junior was a fan of Ghia, but at the time Ghia was allied with Chrysler, so Ford looked to a designer who used to work for Ghia that they already had a relationship with: Gian Paolo Boano.
Boano had designed the Lancia Aurelia 2000 while at Ghia, and you can see that same sense of elegant, pontoon-like design here in this car as well. Ford gave Boano a Lincoln chassis to work with, and from that he created this incredible car. There's lots of aircraft inspiration, from the long streamlined form to the domed canopy/greenhouse, and the overhead instruments that drop down.
The stacked lights feel like jet intakes, and are mirrored by actual intakes on the rear flanks. Those intakes look like they'd just be sucking exhaust from the three massive pipes exiting each side, but, perhaps luckily, those pipes are fake. Otherwise the intake would be acting as some sort of brake heating system, which doesn't sound like such a great idea.
The car built in something of a hurry, and lots of corners were cut. According to this 2006 Businessweek article about the car:
As a result there were numerous shortcuts on this Lincoln; for instance, the hood-release clamps were constructed of pieces of Quaker State oil cans that were bent to fit and painted. The driver's fender was an inch and a half longer than the passenger's, the roof was not straight, and the hood was not aligned properly. In addition, sheet metal was used for chassis bracing rather than cast iron and the windshield was held in place with adhesive. Due to the lack of time when the car was built, large amounts of lead were used to achieve fit (the eventual restorer said that he removed enough to fill half a 55-gallon drum).
The car was a gift from Henry II to Eroll Flynn at one point, and over the years fell into a sorry state until a full restoration in the early 2000s.
The 200 or so HP V8 is exquisitely detailed as well, and the checkerboard interior is incredible. This car was mobbed with people the entire show, and was one of the few cars you could pick out from a quarter mile away.
Sure, it's the Concours d'Elegance, not the Concours d'Sacremerde, but still, just from a visceral, gut reaction, this car was the winner by far.
Judges, you know how to contact me if you wish to issue any corrections.
UPDATE: Well, it did win Best In Class In Custom Postwar Coachwork, and it can't win that AND best in show, so it looks like I owe a big apology to some judges. Thanks to Blake Rong for reminding me.