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Pebble Beach Best in Show: 1937 Horch 853 Vol & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet, and lots of chrome

August 16, 2009 |  8:36 pm

Concourse_Neil-500 The least suspenseful Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in memory concluded on Sunday afternoon with Bob Lee's dazzling 1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet being named Best in Show, as virtually everyone in attendance predicted. The glorious Horch, shining like a Victorian tea service, had all the elements of a Pebble Beach winner: terrific provenance, immaculate restorationand good old-fashioned ostentation, also known as grandeur. The 853 -- a short wheelbase car by Horch's standards -- is a very big car with a 5-liter straight eight engine under the bonnet. Lee commissioned a five-year restoration project to raise the heroic waves of silver and chrome, fettled by Berlin coachbuilders Voll & Ruhrbeck, to a gleam that was probably not even technically possible in the 1930s. The ongoing debate at Pebble Beach about over-restoration will have to wait for another year.

August Horch worked for Karl Benz before striking out on his own. Because of a legal dispute, he left his namesake company in 1910 to form Audi -- which is latin cognate of 'to hear," similar to "horch" in German. Audi and Horch were united in 1932 under the Auto Union marque with DKW and Wanderer, thus the four rings of Auto Union.

Horch Pebble Beach The win was all but a foregone conclusion because there was simply nothing that could touch the car on the field. Nonetheless, Lee said, he had been nervous. "At Pebble Beach, you never know until you know."


-- Dan Neil

Photo credit: Dan Neil