West Australian car collector Alan Tribe enjoyed a breakthrough win this week at the World’s premier class car event: the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2018.
His 1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide with a rare James Young Drophead Coupé body won the Concours Class J3 for European Classic from the late 1930s. A class win at Pebble Beach is regarded as one of the greatest accolades in the classic car world, exceeded only by the Best of Show award which recognises the best of the best.
Few Australians have exhibited at Pebble Beach, let alone won a class trophy. This year, the Pebble Beach organisers invited 209 cars from 17 countries and 31 states to be exhibited on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The list of owners of Pebble Beach cars is a veritable Who’s Who of car collecting worldwide. Second to Alan Tribe’s Lagonda in the class was another Lagonda V12 owned by one of the world’s foremost car collectors, Sir Michael Kadoorie, of Hong Kong and a Bugatti Type 57C owned by another well-known car collector, Jim Hull, of California was third.
Mr Tribe’s Lagonda is an extremely rare car. It is one of only three or four of the 17 Rapide V12 cars produced with a custom body. The chassis was produced in July 1939 and shipped to the coachbuilder James Young in September 1939 for completion — six weeks after Britain declared war with Germany. The first owner of the car, Anthony Gillson, was killed in Burma in 1944.
Mr Tribe is only the fourth owner of the Lagonda which came to Australia in 1957 with a modest 10,000 miles on the clock. It was restored by Auto Restorations in Christchurch, New Zealand. He said that the car has beautiful flowing lines and that combined with its colour of ‘velvet green’ appealed to the judges.
The Lagonda V12 of the 1930s is regarded as the last masterpiece created by the British car designer and manufacturer WO Bentley. While the company which bore his name passed into Rolls-Royce ownership in the early 1930s, he was employed by the owner of Lagonda, Alan Good, to design the ultimate luxury sporting car. For Lagonda, WO Bentley’s designed a 4.5 Litre V12 engine with quad carburettors. Capable of propelling the car at more than 160kph, it is regarded as one of the most important engines of the classic era.
“It was a great thrill to win at Pebble Beach,” Mr Tribe said. “The standard of the restorations is incredible and when we were directed to drive to the podium with two other cars from our class, we thought we must have come second or third.”
“When we won we couldn’t believe it! It is such an honour. Winning a first in class award at Pebble Beach is a summit in motoring terms and I don’t think that I will ever be able to better this. Naturally I am delighted.
“The trophy is now carefully packed in my luggage to bring back to Australia,” he said.
Motoring Past is a Perth, Western Austalia based publisher of high-quality motoring books.