The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Blog

A Tribute to Arturo Keller

March 1, 2024

In the community that is the car world, Arturo Keller touched a multitude of lives, and we are among the many who mourn his passing. Arturo was a quiet but very keen and determined enthusiast who gradually built a car collection that has few if any equals—and then he eagerly shared that collection with family and friends. 

We will miss his leadership as a collector continually striving to do his very best by his cars. We will miss his enthusiasm for driving his cars on tours and rallies. And we will miss his generosity in sharing his cars with us and with others here at the Pebble Beach Concours. In particular, we will miss the sight of him piloting a car jam-packed with children and grandchildren across our awards ramp time and again—a perennial vision that perfectly encapsulated the excitement and joy of sharing cars across the generations.

“I think it is important for a collector to be able to share his enthusiasm,” Arturo said. “If you have a car simply for yourself, there is no enjoyment. I like to share my cars with all my friends, and I like to see and share their cars, too. I think that’s why I like to go to the Pebble Beach Concours—because it’s a place where people share their enthusiasm for cars. We all want to win, of course, but in the end, if a friend wins, you feel happy for him.”

Arturo was the world’s foremost collector of Mercedes-Benz, the marque that ignited his passion. As a youth in Mexico, on weekends, he would traipse over to the local dealership to look at the latest Mercedes models or scour used car lots for a glimpse of any classics. Later, in 1952, he watched Mercedes sweep to victory in the Carrera Panamericana. But owning a Mercedes was then a distant dream. 

Arturo Keller

In his mid-teens, unable to afford anything better and with a bit of help from his father, he first purchased a used 1937 Chevrolet, and—after fixing its underpinings, reupholstering the interior, and then repainting the body—he drove it for years. It wasn’t until his early 30s, in 1966, that he finally acquired what he considered a “serious” collector car—a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300S Coupe. 

Arturo Keller

Initially, he disciplined himself to focus on that marque, seeking to build a coherent collection. Over time, at the encouragement of friends, he gradually branched out into other classics—Duesenberg, Hispano-Suiza, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo—and then into great postwar marques like Ferrari.

Arturo first attended the Pebble Beach Concours in 1979 and he first competed at the event in 1983, with a 1936 Hispano-Suiza K6 Pourtout Convertible, garnering second in class. In each and every ensuing year, he has shown at least one car, and often two or three—or more. Once, in 2021, at our request, he showed a total of ten! In this regard, he has been more than a devoted participant at this event; he has been our partner in showcasing great cars to the world.

In 2008, we awarded Arturo with the Lorin Tryon Trophy for his contributions to the Concours and the car hobby. More recently, he became a member of our “Club 100,” consisting of those few entrants who have shown over 100 cars on our competition field.

Martin Button, Arturo Keller, and Sandra Button

Arturo is one of just three entrants to accomplish this goal. Over the years, he has shown 108 cars, earning a total of 80 awards, including three Best of Show trophies. Only Don Williams has shown more cars, and no one has garnered more awards. (The other member of Club 100 is The Nethercutt Collection.)

We will miss him. 

We dearly hope to see his wife Deborah, his children and his grandchildren on our show field for many years to come.

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