The preservation trend, a phenomenon close to our heart
Known as one of the world’s most famous elegance competitions, Pebble Beach is an annual convention for international classic car enthusiasts. This is also the case for us, as regulars in the Preservation Class of this magnificent event. This category, which exhibits the best-preserved original classic cars, has attracted increasing attention in recent years. These cars are restored while retaining the patina and the current appearance and are judged on original craftsmanship and finish, to our great enthusiasm. We believe this is a good thing, as we are convinced that preserved cars, in which the soul is, as it were, fully preserved, deserve as much attention as a car that has been restored to its original condition. Moreover, the preservation of a classic car accentuates the true history of the car. In the past years, we took part in the Pebble Beach competition several times, each time with uniquely preserved classic cars. Here we put a few in the spotlight.
In 2018, we presented two classic cars in Pebble Beach’s Preservation Class: the prototype of the 1953 remarkable Hudson Italia and a 1961 Maserati 3500GT. The Maserati 3500GT with Touring body is a classic. It was Maserati’s first successful attempt to enter the Grand Turismo segment as well as mass production.
In short, it was a pioneering car for Maserati. We were lucky to find a beautiful example of this model with a third owner who had left the car untouched for 42 years. The car was therefore still in excellent condition: accident-free and fully functional, with the original paint, leather, engine and all other mechanical elements. Quite an exceptional find for this model, which can usually only be found as a (good or bad) restoration. You can imagine our enthusiasm when this old-timer drove into our workshop…. Our team was happy to restore this classic car to its authentic glory while retaining absolute originality.
Our team was happy to restore this classic car to its authentic glory while retaining absolute orginality.Bernard Marreyt , Marreyt Classic Cars
The Hudson Italia also deserves a word of explanation. Although we are not specialised in this type of car from the US, we were very charmed by it and we decided to restore it according to our preservation principles. Not only is this a unique model, but the car also boasts an exceptional history.
To create this American car with Italian design, we have to rewind to the year 1953. This is when the concept of the Hudson Italia came to light, at a restaurant in Brussels where Frank Spring, Styling Director of Hudson, and Carlo Felice Anderloni, director of the Carrozzeria Touring, were dining together. On that evening the first sketch of the Hudson Italia was drawn on a napkin. The meeting between the American car manufacturer and the Italian coachwork designer was no coincidence: Hudson planned to give their cars a refined Italian look. After all, like many other American car manufacturers, Hudson had already realised back then that Italian car styling was unparalleled. Partially influenced by the Marshall Plan, the car brands in the US wanted to update their old-fashioned shape with European style and collaborated with Italian coachwork builders. This also applies to Hudson, who used Touring for the design of their Italia model, which was eventually fitted with the famous Superleggera body.
Although the model had a stylish and sophisticated chassis, the Hudson Italia was unfortunately not a commercial success. The car, of which only 26 were made with Superleggera bodywork, turned out to be a financial fiasco for the American car manufacturer. But the car had a symbolic value for Hudson: it gave the American brand European quality by association. Today, many classic car enthusiasts are still enchanted by this exclusive sophistication.
In 2018, decades after the car was born, we received the prototype of this Hudson Italia with Superleggera body from 1953. We immediately realised that it was a true gem that simply had to be restored with the utmost care. And so we carried out a meticulous conservative restoration on the car in our workshop to see to it that the rich history that the car radiates remains as intact as possible. And then we brought this fine classic back to its roots in the US, via Pebble Beach.
The preserved Hudson Italia bearing our signature work won the admiration of many attendees at the competition. They all indicated that they were impressed by the professional preservation of the unique car. A Swiss fellow classic car specialist recognised the skill of the restoration and – we’re not making this up – literally got on his knees to inspect the details of the car. There is no better honour for us than the appreciation for a preserved classic car that got the restoration it deserved.
In 2019 we went to Pebble Beach with a 1964 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato, a car of which only 33 were made. Bernard, blinded by its beauty, had moved heaven and earth to get hold of this classic.
It was in 2014 that Bernard discovered this hidden gem at the Techno Classica show in Essen: the Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato 3C, 2.8 II series, exhibited at the booth of coachwork maker Zagato. This rare and completely original car with an attractive colour combination of the Argento Auteuil Metalizzato of the body and the dark red leather of the interior was one of the eye-catchers in the hall and attracted the attention of many classic car enthusiasts. Bernard immediately fell for its charms … and resolved to get this beautiful specimen into the Brussels Atelier. This, however, did not prove simple ... The owner, who turned out to be Zagato’s Marketing Director, had no intention of selling his classic car. It was only years later, after much insistence and patience, that Bernard was able to convince him to sell the Flaminia.
Undoubtedly, this stunning Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato appealed to the imagination of every enthusiast and that many a classic car restorer would have liked to overhaul. But it was in our workshop that the car was allowed to undergo a conservative restoration. To subsequently steal hearts on Pebble Beach, in the Preservation Class. For us, this is not only a beautiful car but an equally beautiful journey of conquest ...
Whereas the preservation phenomenon barely got a look in a few years ago, we have noticed that more and more enthusiasts are willing to do a restoration while retaining the patina and the current look of the oldtimer. Gradually more people are realising that a classic car can only be an original once and that it is important to cherish the origin and heritage of the car. We applaud this because a classic car is part of the legacy, it is a witness to the past for us. And isn’t it part of the classic car experience to be able to sit in the same seats in which the first owner enjoyed his car decades ago? To be able to read his life story in the patina of the preserved car? We are definitely convinced that it is.