The 21 Best Cars of the San Marino Motor Classic

Only one week after Pebble Beach, more than a dozen entries from that storied show made their way down the coast to the San Marino Motor Classic on the big lawn of Lacy Park in tony San Marino, California, a Los Angeles suburb that was old money when Beverly Hills was still farmland. In addition to the Pebble cars, this was one of the most diverse collections of classic cars at any car show anywhere, 480 of them total, spread out like a giant automotive floral arrangement on Lacy Park’s three-plus acres.

The Ferrari Club of America SW Region held their annual Concorso smack dab in the middle of the lawn, with collector David Lee once again anchoring the east end of the field with five of his favorite cars from his formidable collection. The giant American classics held down the lawn’s west end as part of a judged show put on by the AACA, Antique Automobile Club of America. Around all that was everything from Porsches to Pontiacs in one of the most diverse shows in the country.

“It’s super-sized,” said the Motor Classic’s chairman Aaron Weiss. “It is amazing. 480 cars signed up, the gala last night had a record 550 people, the VIP tent today is 600, everything is, like, blown up and everybody seems to be having a good time. We’ve got great cars, as usual. It’s pretty amazing. Every year it blows my mind. It gets better and better.”

For comparison, the first year of the Motor Classic there were about 250 cars.

“It’s going a lot smoother,” said Weiss. “We figured it out. It took us nine years, but we figured it out. Everything’s really good.”
Before this year’s show even started, the Classic had raised more than $2.3 million for the charities it supports: the Pasadena Humane Society, Cancer Support Community Pasadena, and the San Marino Rotary Charities. The show looks to add another $350,000 to that, maybe more.

“The more people come in, the more we’re making,” Weiss said.

Previous shows had been held in June.

“We went with this week intentionally,” Weiss said. “We wanted to be the week after Pebble Beach because there’s a fair number of our entries that show at Pebble and the cost of transportation from Pebble here is much less than the cost of having to go back to the East Coast and then back here. So this really worked out well.”

Weiss estimated that there were 12 to 18 cars from Pebble on the lawn this year, including Mark Hyman’s 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Cabriolet, which has quite a story: It was hidden from the Nazis during WWII, then from the Russians during the Cold War. Restorer Jacques Harguindeguy bought it in pieces in 1998, restored it, and it won Best of Show at Pebble in 2000.

Past shows held in June always coincided with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ironically, this year’s show did, too. The idea of following on with the previous week’s festivities at Pebble seems to have caught on and will be continued next year. Only problem is the heat in San Marino is usually pretty intense in August. Luckily, this year was remarkably cool. If you’re coming next year, pack plenty of water and a really big hat. See you then!

Collector David Lee usually brings five cars to park on the lawn. This was one of 2021’s selection: A 1967 GTB4 that we have seen at a few other shows, including the Concorso Ferrari that was held next door in Pasadena for many years.

The Lusso was made with several components from the all-conquering 250 GTO, but with a far more streetable personality.

The 365 GTS/4 is more commonly known as the Daytona Spyder. Of all the cars in David Lee’s collection, we asked the guy who helps manage and park them which one he liked best and he said, without hesitation, “The Daytona.” Sales for all Daytonas have been a little under a million over the last few years, with the Daytona Spyders bringing twice that much and more.

Robert De Pietro’s 1965 250 GTL, or Lusso for short.

1955 250 Europa GT. One of these just sold at Gooding for $2.2 million.

1967 Ferrari 330 GTC.

Marv Landon’s 1967 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2.

1967 Ferrari 275 NART Spyder owned by Robert Funari.

John Chencharick’s 1970 Torino Cobra Jet.

This 1951 Delahaye 235 belongs to Peter Mullin, of the Mullin Automotive Museum.

1953 Chrysler Ghia Special Sport Coupe.

The Petersen Museum brought this 1959 Scimitar Hard Top Convertible. It was built by a German company called Karosseriewerk Reuter of Stuttgart, Germany, for Olin Aluminum to show the wonders of aluminum for car-making. Only took 50 more years to really catch on. The show car was based on a 1959 Chrysler New Yorker chassis and got its first public showing at Geneva in 1959.

This 1958 Lincoln custom was built by local SoCal customizers Richard Cavo and Charles Jacobsson. When Cavo got the car, “it was a disaster.”

“I got it out of Oakland from the original owner,” he said. “And it was in bad shape.”

Look closely at the details to see all they’ve done to it.

1953 Buick Skylark Gran Sport.

1939 Packard Series 1207 Brewster Landaulet.

1935 Packard Series 1205 Dual Cowl Phaeton.

Mark Hyman’s 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Cabriolet. This car was hidden from the Nazis during WWII, then from the Russians during the Cold War. Jacques Harguindeguy bought it in 1998, restored it, and it won Best of Show at Pebble in 2000.

There were six Mercedes Gullwings at San Marino.

Jason Russo’s 1982 Countach.

Rick Johnson’s 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster.

This is how we do it…

Customizer Charles Jacobsson’s latest custom creation. It was parked across the street from the entrance to the show. How did he get such prime parking spot? “I dropped it off at 4:30 in the morning and my wife gave me a ride back home,” he said.

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