The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a glimpse back to a glamorous era in automotive history. The annual gathering of the world’s most collectable cars was founded in 1950 in this northern California coastal town on the Monterrey Peninsula. The automobiles are pristine and polished, with outstanding pedigree — the older, the more lustrous, the more expensive, the better.
The coastal road to the Monterrey Peninsula in August is filled with decadent Lamborghinis, and Rolls-Royce Phantoms. Pebble Beach stretches out over five days of events celebrating devoted to gathering around beautiful old cars. What changes every year is the featured marque – this year it was Jaguar – and the price the cars are being auctioned for. The most expensive car ever —a 1957 Ferrari Testarossa— was sold for $16.4 million dollars on the Gooding & Company block.
The scent of gasoline, charred exhaust and expensive cigars wafted through the seaside air at the Quail Lodge on Friday — an event that embodies the exclusive spirit of Pebble Beach. Tickets were hard to come by. The background noise consisted of revving vintage Ferrari engines, the sound of helicopters landing and a the strains of a live band. Jay Leno, an emblematic celebrity staple of the car collecting scene, posed for photos. Spectators had a first glance at some of the immaculate cars that would compete for top honors as they shipped champagne in the sunshine.
All around town, events were taking place commemorating automotive legends. Sir Stirling Moss and Edsel Ford looked on as Roger Penske was honored by Mercedes-Benz at the Beach Club. Car companies used the opportunity to unveil their newest marques – Cadillac introduced the Ciel, Infiniti showed the Etherea and Bentley unveiled its GTC paired on a catwalk with models wearing designs by milliner Philip Treacy. On Saturday afternoon, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was taken over by vintage Jaguars that race and parade along the tracks. The weekend culminated with the Sunday display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where the coveted title to be named “the best of the best” was bestowed upon the most exquisite auto on display overlooking the Pacific.
Early risers arrived before sunrise as the cars were parked against the ocean backdrop for judging.
Top honors were awarded to the owners of the 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne, beating out a 1938 Talbot-Lego T150-C Figoni & Falaschi Coupe and a 1929 Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting Fixed Head Coupe. Some of the other gems included a 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-SS Figoni & Falaschi Coupeand, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Scaglietti Berlinetta.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the definition of tradition. The true automotive aficionados never miss the pageantry, pomp and circumstance.