‘It started out as a freshen-up for Pebble Beach, but ended up as a restoration!’ exclaims Steve Tillack, manager of the Caballeriza collection in the States and guardian of this stunning Pegaso while it’s in Paris being admired by all at Retromobile.
Apparently the car was already very nice as it was, but with Pebble Beach requesting the cars’ presence for 2014 it was entrusted to FastCars Ltd of Redondo Beach, California, to be brought up to a standard befitting one of the finest concours events in the world.
In fact, do you recall the Pebble Beach-standard restorer, Romance with Rust, which we visited before driving up to Monterey for the event last year? It was they who painted the car to the flawless standard you see here, and by the end of the show the car was wearing a rosette. It didn’t go on to win overall, but to score a ‘place’ in your class at Pebble Beach is a very big deal indeed. In fact, merely being invited is a very big deal …
The car itself is one of just two remaining ‘works’ Spyders – the third car being destroyed in November 1954 on the Carrera Panamericana. The cars came about when Spanish former Alfa Romeo engineer Wilfredo Ricart joined the firm at its former Hispano Suiza premises determined to showcase Spanish engineering. A college was formed to teach engineering, and it has been said by some that the students put the cars together! ‘The design and architecture of the Pegaso’s engine was first class; way ahead of its time,’ Steve explains. ‘Sadly, the execution and the build of the rest of the car wasn’t to the same standard. Rebuilding the car we found inconsistencies with the engineering and machining… which would be understandable if the students had built aspects of the cars.’
One of the iffy engineering aspects is the steering which, according to Steve, has no-fewer than nine different connectors between the steering wheel and the contact patch of the front tyres! ‘We had to make a few improvements in the steering geometry,’ Steve tells us. ‘I raced the car once or twice before it was rebuilt, and we always put a few hundred miles on the cars after a rebuild to make sure everything is as it should be. The Ackermann effect was definitely all wrong. We manufactured some new components which improved the geometry a great deal.’
So, with the car now recognised by Pebble Beach and displayed to an adoring public in Paris at Retromobile, it will now go to the UK for a short time before travelling back across the pond to Amelia Island for the concours competition in mid-March
What odds it catches the judge’s attention again?
Photography: Tom Shaxson