This is the first time in the 72-year history of the world’s most prestigious car show that an entirely student-restored car has ranked at Pebble Beach.
McPherson College’s 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S Cabriolet secured second in class at the 72nd Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance—the first time in the history of the show a car restored by students landed a podium spot. The vintage car, restored by the students of the college’s Automotive Restoration program, won Second in Class for the Postwar Luxury category. The victory marks the first time in Concours history that a student-restored car has ranked in the top three in any class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This year’s Concours featured 216 cars from 18 countries and 30 states, with just a small percentage of entrants winning special recognition.
“Many car collectors dream of just competing at Pebble Beach their entire lives, so for our students to earn second in class is truly an exceptional achievement,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “This is 10 years in the making, with students, alumni, and faculty pouring their heart and soul into this restoration project of the Mercedes-Benz to make this vision a reality. This accomplishment puts our students on par with the professionals of automotive restoration. As an alumnus and president, I could not be more proud of everyone that had a hand in this historic day for McPherson College. Today is a great day to be a Bulldog.”
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the oldest Concours in the United States and widely considered the most prestigious car show in the world. Thousands of applicants vie for a spot at the Concours, where automotive aficionados, industry professionals, collectors and other enthusiasts converge every year to see the best of the best in classic cars. This year, that included the students of McPherson College.
“Congratulations to these Kansas students and their outstanding accomplishment for placing second in class and making history as the first student-restored car to place in the top three at Pebble Beach,” said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran on social media. Moran is the senior senator from Kansas.
“It was heartening to see McPherson students, many of whom were recipients of our Phil Hill Scholarships, competing on our show field with a car they had researched and restored themselves,” said Concours d’Elegance Chairman Sandra Button. “Their efforts were truly deserving of being showcased here, as evidenced by the fact that their Mercedes placed Second in Class. Their knowledge, their abilities, and their dedication to perfecting even the smallest details of a challenging restoration project provide me with great hope for the future of classic cars.”
McPherson College, located in McPherson, Kan., is the only college or university in the U.S. with a bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration. This has helped the school gain the support of noted car collectors like comedian Jay Leno, as well as other important figures in the classic car industry. The unprecedented win at Pebble Beach is sure to continue to attract support for this unique program.
“I could not be more delighted to see the hard work of our students rewarded with a much-deserved and historic class award,” said Brian Martin, the senior director of auto restoration at McPherson College and crew chief for the team of students. “There is something extremely validating about competing with the best in the field and showing that we belong. I have always believed the automotive restoration students at McPherson College were world-class, and last weekend we proved it.”
The award-winning students and car left on a road trip from McPherson in mid-August, and will return to campus this week. Fall classes also began this week, and the performance in Pebble Beach is certainly an exciting way to begin the semester, especially for the automotive restoration students.
“The automotive restoration program at McPherson College has taught me so much about classic cars, and given me the opportunity of a lifetime to come to Pebble Beach,” said Jeremy Porter, a current student from Seneca Falls, N.Y. “Winning second place was just the icing on the cake, and shows what students are capable of achieving.”
Earlier this summer, McPherson College announced a transformational gift that will create the largest endowment of any small liberal arts college in the United States, at more than $1.5 billion. With this historic endowment, the automotive restoration program will have the resources to enter more competitions and allow its students to continue to test their expertise and skills on the biggest stages, such as the Concours d’Elegance.
“As the only automotive restoration program in the country, we are used to making history, but winning second place at the Concours is truly special,” said McPherson College Provost Amanda Gutierrez. “This performance shows that McPherson College is a true powerhouse: in the classroom and the classic auto industry.”