Photo courtesy of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation
The JBS Collection’s 2023 Season Filled with Honors and Achievements
On November 5, in London, England, The JBS Collection’s 1903 Clément 12/16 HP Rear-Entrance Tonneau crossed the finish line at the legendary RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, earning the participation medal awarded to all pre-1905 vehicles able to complete the historic, 54-mile non-race. The longstanding event—a 20-mph tribute to Edwardian-era vehicles, and the oldest and longest-running motor event in the world—effectively brought The JBS Collection’s 2023 season to a close.
And what a 2023 season it was; a crescendo, of sorts, for the Elkhart, Indiana collection that’s been diligently cared for and curated by owner Jack Boyd Smith Jr. Since purchasing his first classic car in 2012, Smith Jr. has—culminating with a 2023 season full of prestigious Concours awards and significant honors—built The JBS Collection into one of the top-ranked, and more remarkable, classic car collections in all of the world.
“I was a little surprised how 2023 went, and, overall, how fast things have happened,” said Smith Jr. “When I started this collection it was because I came to develop a true appreciation for the beauty and quality of classic and historic vehicles. To me, they represent important, rolling pieces of art. I wanted to build a collection to share with my family, and the world, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished. But I never expected all of this.”
All of this, in 2023, amounted to a steady timeline of achievements that have put The JBS Collection center square on the worldwide classic car collection map.
It started early, in February, when Smith Jr. was honored with the 2023 Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance Collector of the Year Award in Boca Raton, Florida. The award included the privilege of a 15-car showing, and The JBS Collection also received the 2023 Chairman Award for its historic 1933 Dodge Brothers H44 Tow Truck, and The Most Elegant Pre-War Closed award—for its 1932 Packard 904 Deluxe Eight Individual Custom Stationary Coupe—at the Boca Raton Concours.
“I could have called it a year right there,” said Smith Jr. “Most collections have been around, and been building, for thirty or forty years, at least. This is still a young collection. To win Collector of the Year at the Boca Raton Concours, one of the great Concours events in America—that was a great achievement for us.”
In early March came official news that The Hagerty Drivers Foundation—in its collaboration with the Library of Congress—had named The JBS Collection’s historic 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible, famously owned by American aviator Amelia Earhart, as the 33rd vehicle ever to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register; the only list of its kind recognized by the federal government to promote and preserve the cultural, historical, and technological significance of the automobile.
The multiple award-winning Cord, fully restored—as have been many of The JBS Collection’s historic vehicles—by trusted partner LaVine Restorations, Inc., of nearby Nappanee, Indiana, was subsequently presented under glass display, Aug. 31 through Sept. 5, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in honor of being inducted.
Next up, in May, at the 2023 edition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy, The JBS Collection’s 1933 Chrysler Custom Imperial LeBaron—known as the Imperial 8, and one of less than 20 of its kind left in existence—was named Class Winner of the Class A category, The Fast and The Formal: Pre-War High Speed Luxury.
May brings more big news
May also brought official news that The JBS Collection had jumped 50 spots, a significant rise, to break into the list of Top 100 worldwide collections published annually by The Key. The Classic Car Trust rankings in The Key—representing the height of excellence for car museums and collections worldwide—listed The JBS Collection at #85 among the world’s top collections. Billionaire fashion icon Ralph Lauren—whose car collection has an estimated worth of $350 million—earned The Key’s top spot for 2023, and other notables included the collections of Nicola Bulgari (#41) and Jay Leno (#46).
“That was another huge moment for us,” said Smith Jr. “In the classic car world, breaking into The Key’s Top 100 list is one of those achievements where you know you’re really doing something right. Honestly, I didn’t think 2023 could get any better at that point. But it did.”
The JBS Collection races at Le Mans
In late June, The JBS Collection’s 1929 Bentley Continuation Series Blower—driven by Stuart Morley Racing, a fourth-generation Bentley Blower racing team—was documented as having raced the legendary Le Mans raceway after participating in the 11th running of the Le Mans Classic in Le Mans, Sarthe, France. The 1929 Continuation Series Blower, one of only 12 Continuation Series Blowers hand-built to 1929 specifications by Mulliner of Bentley, showed well on the renowned Circuit de la Sarthe, coming close to breaking the Le Mans lap record for a Bentley Blower before an intake pipe issue ended its day, and its torrid pursuit of a thrilling, come-from-behind victory.
The excitement continued into August, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance—widely considered to be the premier Concours event in America, and one of the greatest Concours events in the world—where The JBS Collection’s 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Pall Mall earned both an individual Special Award and a Second in Class finish. On the famed 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, the Pall Mall—built in Springfield, Massachusetts—was presented with the Ansel Adams Award and Second in Class in the Class H: Rolls-Royce Prewar category.
“We’re not in Malibu; Elkhart doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of the coasts,” said Smith Jr. “But I often take my classic cars out on the road, and when people look over at me I can see the fascination and admiration in their eyes. People get excited—they’re in shock, like, Wow, what is this all about? I think The JBS Collection’s success shows if you work hard and put your foot hard to the floor—no pun intended—you can accomplish anything. I don’t know what 2024 holds for us, but we’ll work hard to live up to our ranking, and reputation, as one of the top 100 classic car collections in the world.”
Top: Jack Boyd Smith Jr. with The JBS Collection’s 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible. The Cord, once owned by American aviator Amelia Earhart, was presented under glass this year on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Bottom: Smith Jr., left, looks on as former Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös inspects The JBS Collection’s rare 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Pall Mall, Aug. 20, in Pebble Beach, California.