The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Celebrated 300 Years of Anniversaries With Some Epic Cars
Photography by Shayan Bokaie
This past Sunday, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance reminded us all why it is the car show by which all others are judged. There are more exclusive concours out there, but that just means fewer cars and smaller scope. There are those that are set in front of castles built hundreds of years ago rather than adjacent to golf course clubhouses built for seniors to sip cocktails in, but people don’t spend millions of dollars get the trophies they give out anywhere else. After 69 editions, the event on the edge of the Monterey Peninsula—the capstone of the famous “Car Week”—remains as preeminent as ever on the collector car calendar of events.
Zagato and Bentley were both celebrating their 100-year celebrations meaning the cars did not disappoint. Additionally, Pebble Beach itself was honoring its own 100th birthday making for 300 years of anniversaries.
I was happy to wake up with the first chirping birds of the still-dark morning on Sunday as I joined my fellow early-risers to walk amongst the array of cars spread out on the Pacific-dewed greens of Pebble Beach. There are bound to be cars you’ve never seen before (in pictures or in person), but beyond the tangible marvels of engineering and design laid out for our enjoyment and critique, the real excitement of being at Pebble Beach comes from just that: being at Pebble Beach.
Most of us in the attendance with the lanyards and the passes and the cameras and whatnot are never going to “compete” with anything we own at this concours, but by being around it, whatever it is we’re doing, writing the articles, taking the photos, or just huddling around certain cars that we’ve deemed our personal “stars” of the show, we all play a part in keeping the event moving forward. Even if all you did was listen to the Howmet turbine start up or ogle the Lamboghini SVR Jota (an activity of many an attendee), that’s still a point for automotive enthusiasm, it’s still a body contributing to a crowd, a smiling face in the background of a photograph.
That might sound trite or saccharine, but it really just depends on how you frame it: By buying an expensive ticket or getting a media pass to create content, are you simply acting as window dressing for a bunch of rich folks to play a one-percenter’s version of Hot Wheels on the carpet in front of? Plenty of people will put it that way, and it’s not meritless to believe that, but I and everyone else I spent time with at Pebble Beach was simply there for the love of cars. A love of cars can take many forms of course, and here it is just as interesting to talk about coachwork as it is to make market predictions and analyze auction results. This year the top prize was a nice birthday present for Bentley, but that’s not to say the winning 8 Litre Sports Tourer wasn’t deserving of its silverware.
During the concours weekend, Pebble Beach is occupied by personalities and cars that are separate from most of reality. You’ve got old and new money butting figurative heads in the form of art deco laundalets and post-war sports cars, and then there are hordes of posses and press and dealers and brokers and collectors and Instagrammers and hangers-on and marque devotees and all manner of people that are drawn to this one fairway on one weekend of the year for many different reasons but all born from cars—particularly those like Jim Glickenhaus’s 412P.
The machines themselves are exquisite and represent the best of the best in their respective classes, but while walking the rows of Bugattis and Bentleys and Ferraris and Alfa Romeos and Duesenbergs and what have you, just thinking about all the activity that has sprung up around these very old bits of metal and rubber and plastic is awe-inspiring in its own right. No matter how often you’ve been the concours never disappoints for cars and fanfare, and if you haven’t had a chance to go yet I hope these photos and thoughts can convince you that even though it’s a cliche line on the old bucket list, it delivers on the hype and promises.