And The Winner Of The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is….

An amazing example of pre-war Mercedes class and poise

As the Monterey Car Week winds down, the big event that everyone is watching is the awards ceremony for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Among the world’s Concours, it is one of the big three, the other two being the original Concours d’Elegance Chantilly Richard Mille and the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como in Italy.

While there have been some excellent examples of class winners and beautiful examples of pre-war, post-war, and racing cars, there is only one winner of the vaunted Best In Show trophy.

Amongst the Concours of the world, the Pebble Beach Best In Show Trophy is often regarded as the highest of honors. It’s akin to winning the America’s Cup in sailing, the World Cup in Football, the World Championship in Formula 1, and the like.

The grounds of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

In essence, winning the Pebble Beach Best In Show guarantees a place in history.

The 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance competition was much tougher than many previous years, both due to the size of the field of entrants, and the fact that the 2020 event was canceled. It made the field diverse, and gave owners that extra year to get every detail perfect, every last spec of dust cleaned away, every piece of chrome as bright and clean as possible.

Above all of that, winning the Best in Show is a very involved process. To even be considered for Best in Show, your particular car must have already won its best in class trophy, and is voted on by a randomly selected group of judges who are given a “blue ticket.” This blue ticket has only three lines on it: Class, Car, Owner.

The Best in Show Trophy as the judges count the ballots
The Best in Show Trophy as the judges count the ballots

Each judge fills out the ticket in their own writing, and once it is signed it is dropped into the “Best in Show” box. Only once all judges that have the blue tickets have been checked off the roll list, is the box opened and the votes counted.

Speculation abounds. Whispers between commentators, judges, and the crowd alike try to guess which class winner gets the vaunted world-class award. It truly is one of the edge-of-your-seat tension moments at a Concours d’Elegance, especially at the World Cup of Concours at Pebble Beach. However, there can only be one…

The four finalists
The four finalist cars for Best in Show, from left to right: 1957 Maserati 450S Zagato Coupe, 1967 Ferrari 365 Pininfarina Tre Posti three seater, 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier, and a 1935 Bugatti Type 57C Convertible

The winner of the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier wins 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance best in show

This specific model of Mercedes was an optional upgrade over the standard 1938 540K with aerodynamic stylings from the Mercedes-Benz W154 Silver Arrow racing car. This is shown through the long, teardrop fenders, and the gracefully sloped tail section.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier wins 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance best in show
Arturo and Debra Keller with their show winning 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier

The winning owners, Arturo and Debra Keller of California will now have their names, along with the year and the car, engraved on the pedestal of the Pebble Beach Concours Best in Show trophy.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier wins 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance best in show
Arturo and Debra Keller with their show winning 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier

The 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier was, for its day, a sophisticated and elegant supercar. It may not look like what we, today, consider to be a supercar, but a 5.4L M24 II inline-eight produced 180 HP, which made a period amazing 33.3 HP per liter of displacement. To give an idea of just how powerful that engine was, the 1934 Ford V8 Speedster Coupe, the favorite of many hotrodders and early dirt track racers, had a 3.9L flathead V-8 that produced only 95 HP in its most powerful trim, for a figure of just about 30 HP per liter of displacement.

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier wins 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance best in show
Arturo and Debra Keller with their show winning 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier

Alongside winning the prestigious Concours trophy, Arturo Keller also received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch, with a market value of over $15,000, as well as a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne that was specially selected from their premium collection for the event. Congratulations to Arturo and Debra Keller for winning the World Cup of Concours d’Elegance!

We will be highlighting multiple events, showcasing some of the special events and cars, and going over own of favorite cars over the following week, so be sure to come back every day to Sports Car Digest to get the latest news, views, and special articles that you can only find here!

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