Pebble Beach, CA – The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) awarded two Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) preservation trophies at the 66th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 21, 2016. The FIVA Pre-War Preservation Trophy was awarded to the 1902 Thomas, Model No. 17, owned by Kirk Bewley of Sacramento, California and Stewart Laidlaw of Redding, Connecticut. The FIVA Post-War Preservation Trophy was awarded to the 1969 Lamborghini Miura S owned by the Meier family of Woodland Hills, California. The FIVA preservation award recognizes vehicles that retain much of their original components, materials and finishes and as such are important cultural artifacts. The 2016 awards are part of the FIVA World Motoring Heritage Year celebration under the patronage of UNESCO.
Mark Gessler, President of HVA and Vice President of FIVA presented the awards. The HVA is the sole representative for FIVA in the United States and Canada.
In 1902, E. R. Thomas Motor Company acquired the assets of the Buffalo Automobile and Auto-Bi Company and began producing the single-cylinder, 8 h.p. Thomas, Model No. 17. The following year company introduced the much more powerful three-cylinder 24 h.p. Model No. 18 and eventually became well-known for creating durable and powerful automobiles. The company received international fame when an American team won the 1908 New York to Paris race in a 1907 Thomas Flyer. The company went on to produce automobiles until 1919.
“This 1902 Thomas is believed to be the oldest complete Thomas motor car known to exist,” said co-owner Stewart Laidlaw. “It was purchased from the Wells Museum collection in Maine several years ago which owned it for more than 60 years.” While the precise history is not known, the car was believed to have resided in Maine from new with only one wealthy owner prior to being acquired by Mr. Wells.
Stewart Laidlaw has collected and sold early brass era cars for more than 50 years. “I have a total affection for original cars,” he said. “This car is the best original early car I’ve ever seen.” Over the last decade, Mr. Laidlaw’s cars have won the pre-war preservation class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance a record five times. Co-owner Kirk Bewley is a longtime friend. Several years ago the two drove a 50 h.p. 1912 Pope-Hartford across country. Both men are longtime members of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. Speaking about the 1902 Thomas, Mr. Laidlaw remarked, “When we received the car we removed varnish on the fenders to uncover the original japan (black paint) on the steel fenders. An amazing feature are the leather straps in the rear seats which are still intact and typically never survive. The wood body retains its original green/gray paint, a color known as London Smoke, with gold leaf pin-stripping. The pin striping on the springs is interesting because the repeated “T” outline pattern for Thomas.”
When speaking about how a car this old could be so well-preserved, Mr. Laidlaw said, “Wealthy owners sent new cars to their summer homes in Maine. The cars would be used only a few months a year and would typically be well cared for in carriage houses in the off-season. During this early part of the century, the technology was changing fast and these owners would purchase new cars and keep the older models. This is likely what happened in the case of this Thomas.”
“1998 was when the first FIVA Preservation Trophy was established at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to help ensure that stewardship of unrestored vehicles was widely celebrated and strongly encouraged,” said Mark Gessler. “This wonderfully preserved early Thomas motor car is an incredible example of over 100 years of careful stewardship. We are thankful to co-owners Stewart Laidlaw and Kirk Bewley for their recent conservation work and sharing this outstanding, original early automotive artifact with the general public.”
1902 Thomas, Model No. 17
Manufacturer: E. R. Thomas Motor Co., Buffalo, NY, USA
Wheelbase: 76 inches
Body No.: 11
Body Type: Detachable rear entry tonneau
Engine: Single cylinder F-head
Engine No.: 12
Displacement: 106 c.i.d
Maximum hp: 8
Transmission: Planetary, 2-speeds forward with column shift
Brakes: Band on differential
The post-war FIVA Preservation Trophy was awarded for the 1969 Lamborghini Miura P 400 S. The Meier family acquired the car five years ago from the family that purchased it in 1970. When the Meier family acquired, the car had less than 18,000 km (about 12,000 miles) and still retained its original Pirelli tires and Orachio (orange) paint.
Commenting on the car, Jeffrey Meier said “Our Miura was purchased when it was less than a year old by a retired mechanical engineer Earl Morris, who felt the Lamborghini Miura was the most technologically innovative vehicle of its time. I learned of Earl’s Miura during a family vacation in Southern Oregon. A relative mentioned a local recluse who owned a beautiful orange Lamborghini, but had no idea of what year or model. Another family member who lived in the area did a great amount of sleuthing and came up with a lead where I might find Earl and his Miura. Meeting a 95-year-old gentleman who actually still owned his Miura was a thrill, and having Earl show and explain the car to me was amazing. It was his lifelong love.”
“This year FIVA and Lamborghini are both celebrating their 50th anniversary,” said Mark Gessler. “The Lamborghini Miura is widely regarded as the first ‘super car’ and the dawn of a new modern era. We were pleased to have been able to recognize one of the earliest automobiles and earliest super cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as part of FIVA’s World Motoring Heritage Year under the patronage of UNESCO.”
1969 Lamborghini Muira P 400 S
Manufacturer: Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A., Bologna, ITALY
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Chassis No.: 3979
Body Type: 2-door coupé
Engine No.: 2925
Carburetors: 4 – triple choke Weber model 40
Displacement: 240 c.i.d
Maximum hp: 345
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Brakes: 4 wheel disc
The FIVA judging team for the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance comprised FIVA Technical Commission Advisor, Adolfo Orsi; FIVA Technical Commission Vice President, Mark Gessler, FIVA Technical Commission member, Malcolm Welford; FIVA and HVA scrutineer Jonathan Stein; longtime Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and FIVA supporter, Hagerty CEO, McKeel Hagerty, and Roy Miller.
About the Historic Vehicle Association
The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014 the HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register program working with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and Library of Congress to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners; key stakeholders such as Hagerty, Shell, Pennzoil, Quaker State, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage; and individual benefactors.