Is this the world’s finest au­to­mo­bile?

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID LIN­KLATER

The Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’El­e­gance ’Best in Show’-win­ning 1929 MercedesBenz S Barker Tourer ‘‘boat tail’’ – ar­guably the finest car in the world – is head­ing home to the UK for the Con­cours of El­e­gance 2018.

Peb­ble Beach is ar­guably the top clas­sic-car show in the world, which is why many cur­rently re­gard this 1929 Benz boat tail as the finest car in the world.

Based on the 1927 Mercedes S-Type, the unique ‘Boat Tail’ was one of the most pow­er­ful road-go­ing au­to­mo­biles in the world in that pe­riod, de­vel­oped as the per­fect road-go­ing, race ca­pa­ble car.

Orig­i­nally owned by rac­ing en­thu­si­ast and Bri­tish Rac­ing Driv­ers’ Club co­founder Earl Howe, this car was fit­ted with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary body which in­cor­po­rated a light­weight and aero­dy­namic shell with unique air­craftin­spired alu­minium side pods crafted by English coach­builders Barker.

The car was a reg­u­lar on tours, tri­als and com­pe­ti­tion events in the UK be­fore new own­er­ship in 1958 took it to the United States, where it re­mained.

When it re­turns to Bri­tain in Septem­ber, it will be the first time back on its home soil since 1958.

When it was first sold to Amer­i­can own­ers, the car was re­painted in a dark ma­roon colour and the rear of the car was ren­o­vated to sport an ad­di­tional spare tyre in­stead of its dis­tinc­tive boat tail.

But, its most re­cent owner has just com­pleted a multi-year pro­ject of restor­ing the car to its for­mer glory.

The ma­jor­ity of Earl Howe’s unique specifications were lost un­til a host of pho­to­graphs un­earthed as­pects of the orig­i­nal ve­hi­cles.

They re­vealed the miss­ing boat tail, nu­mer­ous re­flec­tive sur­faces, cus­tom tour­ing lug­gage and a red spot­light which was given to Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to alert other road users to their sta­tus.

Upon dis­as­sem­bly patches of the Earl Howe’s sig­na­ture Pea­cock Blue paint were also dis­cov­ered, which has now been sym­pa­thet­i­cally recre­ated.

The Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’El­e­gance (‘‘com­pe­ti­tion of el­e­gance’’) is held every year on the Peb­ble Beach Golf Links in Cal­i­for­nia and is widely re­garded as the top clas­sic-car show in the world.

Cars are judged for au­then­tic­ity, func­tion, his­tory and style. There are a va­ri­ety of classes but there is al­ways a Best In Show award, cho­sen from the winners of each class.

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