The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
When: Sunday, August 20th, 2017
Where: The Lodge at Pebble Beach Golf Links – 1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, California
Admission: $375 general admission.
Contact: (831) 622-1700
The One, The Only
Among the thousands of car shows and competitions worldwide, concours stand out from the crowd. Among concours, Pebble Beach is in a league of its own. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is Monterey Car Week. Without its prestige and immense following, there would be no mooring for California’s annual gathering of auctions and displays.
Since the 1950s, the Concours has graced 18th hole of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, thought by many to be “the best finishing hole in golf.” A robust, manicured carpet of green, ending in tide-beaten cliffs and an endless sea. In keeping with the posh locale, organizers suggest “resort casual” attire, though many Concours participants opt to dress in a manner consistent with the age of their vehicle. The result can range from an antique steam car belching smoke beneath a flamboyantly mustachioed driver, to bright, bold patterns behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Miura.
Pebble Beach is, aside from racing, the most competitive automotive event in the world. The cars shown are mythical – the likes of a Bentley boy’s 4.5 litre, a fashion magnate’s Bugatti, or an ex-Stirling Moss Aston Martin. Over 200 of these unicorns are pitted against others of their genre in a multi-billion dollar feast for the eyes. This year’s featured marques include Ferrari, Isotta Fraschini, and pre-war Rolls-Royce. Classes like Prewar Preservation and Classic European Sport are perennial favorites, while special classes like American Dream Cars of the 1960s add a touch of whimsy.
Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears a Crown
To have a shot at being accepted to Pebble Beach, the car must be original, from 1972 or earlier, and… perfect. If anything, perfect is an understatement, as some are more straight and flawless than when they rolled off the factory floor. Professionally detailing the trunk and engine bay is a foregone conclusion.
Unrestored vehicles of extraordinary provenance are an increasingly popular exception. An untouched, fully functional Porsche 917k with dirt from Le Mans still caked under its fenders might do the trick.
While many of the cars are preceded by their reputations, others roll onto the course as debutantes. Barnfinds and family heirlooms squirreled away for generations enter automotive society on the Pebble’s green alongside new models and concept cars. This year, for example, BMW plans to show a new roadster at the Concours. Whether it’s a concept or a full-blown production car remains to be seen.
That being said, even the well-known entrants are anything but common; judged vehicles cannot have entered the Concours in the last ten years, and are forbidden from being shown at any public event in the year leading up to Pebble Beach. These stringent requirements aren’t just for posterity, they help The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance retain its royal reputation.
The Tour d’Elegance
Though by all accounts irreplaceable, the cars with a shot at receiving best in show on Sunday must be fully functional. Taking home the coveted blue ribbon requires completion, without a breakdown, of the three-hour Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. The route is picturesque, providing onlookers with a panorama of natural beauty only broken by the burble and roar of priceless automobiles. It’s an insurer’s nightmare. If you’re in town a few days early to enjoy the Tour, consider taking a short walk up the street to the Parc du Concours for the affiliated Gooding & Company auction. It may ease the pangs of jealousy to see a few cars that are actually for sale.