Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Celebrates Its First Sport Customs Class
This year, for the very first time, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is hosting an entire class dedicated to Sport Customs.
“These are one-of-a-kind cars built in the US, on modified American production chassis with American engines by individuals, designers and craftsmen,” explains automotive historian Ken Gross, a member of the committee that vets and selects the Concours entries. “Although the word sport connotes adroit handling, for the most part these cars were stylish boulevard cruisers, designed to be seen and admired, not to win races.”
“The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance continues to expand alongside the growing interests of enthusiasts,” says Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “It is important for us to stay in tune with the interests of the people who create, love, and care for these special cars, and it is always interesting to host something new and different.”
Each car competing in the new Sport Customs class comes with a personal story and history like no other. Take, for example, the story of Seward Allen’s 1940 Coachcraft Roadster.
Seward Allen was just a high school student when he dreamed up this car. He developed the idea while in auto shop class, where the chassis and running gear were constructed with the help of his classmates. Unbeknownst to his parents, Allen later commissioned Coachcraft, Ltd., to complete his vision. The result was a sleek and modern design paired with shiny navy blue paint and an orange pigskin interior. With low doors, no top and no side windows, this car is the definition of a California Roadster.
“It’s a very beautifully designed car,” says Martin Cousineau, who, with his wife Michelle, is its current owner. “There isn’t a sharp corner on it. It has integrated curves and compound curves, which are all the more remarkable because this is an all power-hammered and hand-hammered steel construction.”
To complement its innovative look, the Roadster included features far ahead of its time. The body was welded to the chassis to form a strong and rigid unibody. With a Ford flathead V8 engine installed in its light sports roadster body, it was a forerunner of designs like the famous Shelby Cobra that appeared many years later. Celebrated in its own right, this Roadster soon appeared on the cover of Trend Book 101, Custom Cars.
In November 1950 — the very same month that the inaugural Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance took place — this sport custom strutted its stuff at the first Petersen Motorama in Los Angeles. Now things come full circle as Seward Allen’s 1940 Coachcraft Roadster competes with eight other Sport Customs at the forthcoming Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The class also includes the very first Coachcraft creations, the Vince Gardner Special, the Paul Omohundro Special, the Norman Timbs Special, another Emil Diedt Roadster made for Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, the Templeton Saturn Special, the Maverick Sportster and the Bentas “Raven” Convertible.
In addition to Sport Customs, the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will feature Cars of the Maharajas, Mercer, Fiat, Saoutchik Coachwork, AC and AC (Shelby) Cobra and German Motorcycles. Information and tickets are available at www.pebblebeachconcours.net.