Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor | Photos as credited
Saturday, November 3rd, 2012, Paul Russell and Company hosted an open house to celebrate the 1928 Mercedes-Benz Typ S Torpedo by Saoutchik of Paul and Judy Andrews that won Best in Show at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The occasion created an opportunity to do many things beyond admiring the Saoutchik-bodied Mercedes-Benz S. Visiting the Russell and Company shop – impeccably neat and famously orderly – with the expectation of seeing some spectacular cars was top of the list.
Russell didn’t disappoint on that score. In fact they over-delivered, like Apple’s revenue and earnings guidance, with an array of Pebble Beach quality cars. Ferrari 250 GT SWB Comp./60, a crusty and wrinkled Ferrari 375MM, a Ferrari 212 Vignale coupe in the body shop, bare as a baby’s bottom, Bugatti Type 57S drophead, gorgeous Delahaye 135 MS Figoni & Falaschi drophead, and more.
‘More’ included a Lancia B20S Pinin Farina coupe on the lift exposing its rarely-seen underbelly and suspension, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing freshly pulled from three decades semi-restored (in a barn three miles from my home) and a partly restored Cunningham C3 Vignale coupe – with a freshly-built electronic fuel injected aluminum Mopar Hemi motor on its stand ready to stand in for the original cast lump on tours and outings. 600hp in a Cunningham; oh Lordy!
The occasion also had a greater purpose, raising money for the McPherson College Automobile Restoration Program, supported by the attendees and several generous sponsors. They were: Partners, the Andrews’ Panther City Classic Autos, Mercedes-Benz and Jay Leno; Sponsors Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, BASF Glasurit paints and Gooding & Company; and Associate Sponsors Premier Financial Services, Intercity Lines, Michael Furman photographer and MMRSite.com. The event raised nearly $60,000, from over 200 avid auto enthusiasts, sponsors, and supporters.
“We are thrilled to champion the Automotive Restoration Program at McPherson College, and to have Program graduates involved in a restoration project of this magnitude – an exquisite example of the “coachbuilt era” motorcar,” Paul Russell, a long-time Educational Advisory Board Member of the school, and event host said.
Paul Russell outlined the detailed process of restoring the Saoutchik-bodied Mercedes-Benz, highlighting the work of the team responsible for its two-year transformation, the extensive research that went into re-creating its original appearance, and recognizing the contributions and introducing each of the Russell restorers who worked on it. It would take pages to recap his observations but it is sufficient simply to say that two years seems hardly long enough to accomplish what they did.
On a beautiful fall Saturday many took advantage of the day to drive to Russell’s in scenic Essex, Massachusetts in their own classic and collectible cars. The rest of us just enjoyed the drive and the day.
It turned out to be especially significant for me when I noticed a photo of original owner of the Pebble Beach winning Mercedes-Benz among its history display. ‘Frederick H. Bedford, Jr.’ it said. My rusty synapses jogged. ‘I know that name.’ Then it fell into place. I had written this car’s description for the Christie’s Monterey Auction in 2006 when it was sold from Mr. Bedford’s family ownership for the first time. It was like a reunion with an old friend – albeit in much better shape than when last we met – and the first time one of my auction description cars has captured the top place at Pebble Beach.
It was a great afternoon among fine company, both mechanical and personal.