Wanaka owned vintage car wins in California

A 1931 Hispano Suiza J12 Transformable Deluxe, owned by Wanaka locals Mark and Sonia Richter, has won best in Class and the Ulmann Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance event in Pebble Beach USA.

The event is the biggest in the world for showing classic cars, with 200 invited each year. Their invite came through judge Peter Larson.

“Peter wrote a book about the couch builder (Saoutchik) from our Hispano and he tracked us down, suggesting we consider sending in an application as Hissy has been in New Zealand for nearly 40 years now, so is rather unknown to the wider world,” Mark said.


“We looked into it and when we found out that there was the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic (PBMC) that would mean we could drive all the way down from Seattle to Monterey for the show, we could take part in too, we leapt in.”

Their application was accepted, so Mark and Sonia shipped the car over to Seattle, spending a few days checking over the car. About 21 classic cars, a support ‘trouble truck’ and a modern car with air conditioning made the trip from Seattle to Monterey.

“The people who enter take it seriously and spend vast sums preparing their cars. These 'open cheque book' restorations are virtually never driven and get trailered to the show in special transporters. Once they arrive they are preened by teams of people to the point of perfection,” Mark said.

Mark and Sonia’s said their car was not prepared that way, and it was a shock and privilege to come away with both the wins.

The judges placed two major factors on their win. Firstly the car was the first Hispano J12 made. It was a Paris, London and Geneva show car, the first owner was the Shah of Persia and Mark had the full history to present date. The second factor was that the car is used so much with the Richters having travelled 35,000 km in it since its restoration in 2012.

“It looked fabulous. I think they also liked our open approach and that we dressed in period outfits,” Mark said.

“3000 miles in three weeks in our 1931 Hispano Suiza, we are so happy,” Sonia said.

Photo: Ross Morgan

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