Prewar Cadillac and postwar Alfa Romeo share Best of Show at 2018 San Marino Motor Classic

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1930 Cadillac V-16 all-weather phaeton by Murphy. Photos by Ian Wood and Kahn Media.

Now in its eighth year, the San Marino Moto Classic – the successor to the former Los Angeles Concours d’Elegance – drew 357 cars and roughly 10,000 visitors to Lacy Park in San Marino, California, last Sunday, June 10. Two cars rose above the rest to take top honors, including a 1930 Cadillac V-16 all-weather phaeton by Murphy, which earned Best of Show Prewar, and a 1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport Coupe, which went home with the Best of Show Postwar award.

Now owned by John Groendyke, the Cadillac was delivered new to Charles Howard, owner of the most successful Buick franchise on the West Coast in the early decades of the 20th century. As a sideline, Howard also bred and trained racehorses, and purchased the legendary Seabiscuit shortly before the stallion’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune. A fan of Pasadena coachbuilder Walter M. Murphy, Howard and his family already owned several Murphy-bodied automobiles before taking delivery of the Cadillac pictured above.

To avoid the delay of waiting for a bare chassis to become available, Howard purchased a factory-bodied 1930 Cadillac V-16 two-passenger roadster, which was then sent to Murphy to be rebodied as an all-weather phaeton. Its rear windshield, raked at the same 22-degees as the front to convey a sense of speed, can be lowered behind the front seats, allowing a more open-cabin feel with the top and original quarter-windows (since removed) in place.

Styled by Franklin Q. Hershey, the Murphy-bodied Cadillac featured exotic wood inlays in the interior and a mother-of-pearl gearshift knob (since lost to time), and was originally finished in white with lilac fenders. Comprehensively restored in the 1980s, the car was refreshed again in the early ‘00s, when it was painted in the maroon and black scheme it wears today. It appeared at Pebble Beach in 1997, where it earned first-in-class honors, and again in 2008. In addition to its American Open class win and Best of Show Prewar trophy, the stately Cadillac also captured the Most Elegant American Open Prewar award last Sunday.

1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport Coupe

1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport coupe.

Currently owned by George Alspaugh, the 1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport Coupe, with a body by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, is one of 383 6C 2500 Super Sport chassis built by Alfa Romeo in the post-war years. Featuring a 106.3-inch wheelbase, the shortest of all 6C 2500 variants, Super Sport models also received the most powerful 2.4-liter inline six-cylinder engine, fed by three Weber carburetors in Corsa specification and rated at 120 horsepower.

This example, chassis 915539, was sent to Touring for its coupe body in December of 1946, then delivered to the Alfa Romeo dealership in Lisbon, Portugal, in June 1947. The car’s first owner was Carlos F. Alsina Seruya, whose family retained possession of the car for 59 years, until it sold to its second owner, a German collector, in 2006.

1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport Coupe

A three-year restoration of the car was initiated in January 2007, and in 2010 the car made its concours debut in Germany, earning a first-in-class award and an invitation to the 2011 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. On the way to its Best of Show Postwar trophy last Sunday, the Alfa Romeo took first place in the Italian Sports Cars – 1946-1974 class.

The show also featured a display of race cars campaigned by Paul Newman, now owned by Adam Carolla.

The 2019 San Marino Motor Classic will take place on Sunday, June 9, at Lacy Park in San Marino, California. For a complete list of 2018 winners, or additional information on next year’s show, visit

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