Where Do You Find Road Runner Superbirds And Mercedes Gullwings In The Same Flock?
Photography by Patrick Stevenson
We are surrounded by stunning art deco era cars, the sun is out, the grass is green, and the waves of the Pacific are rolling in like clockwork—we must be at Pebble Beach right? With your eyes closed, if you only took in the sounds, smells, and, if you will, the automotive energy in the air, it would be hard to tell otherwise, but this was all taking place on the lawn at the 2018 La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in balmy San Diego, a long drive south from Monterey. This concours is more accessible than the headlining events of Car Week up north, and though it may be much smaller, it still offers plenty of quality car show entertainment and a more relaxed alternative to the crowds in August.
The featured marque on the lawn this year was Lincoln, and the main area was filled with massive coaches from the ’20 and ‘30s all the way up to the late-‘60s Continentals with their ever-exciting suicide doors and classic American sled styling. In all, a great tangible retrospective on the luxurious past of Lincoln, with one particular pastel yellow V12-powered sedan standing out in particular. It was a complete time capsule, sporting just 230 supposed original miles on its five-digit odometer. In the rear, a black top hat and cane remind us that this is a car for those who’ve “arrived.”
Surrounding the beautifully brash Americans was a sea of classic European metal. In front of the VIP hospitality cabanas sat a wonderful selection from Mercedes-Benz, our favorites of which were an immaculate dark blue 300SL Gullwing, and a metallic leaf-like green 190SLR roadster. Of course no concours would be complete without a few early Bugattis, and this was no exception, though no matter how many times you’ve seen them you can’t help being awed by the craftsmanship.
Heading to the South lawn, I stopped by a phalanx of ‘60s and ‘70s Japanese coupes and early sports cars, including an incredibly clean and vibrant Toyota 2000GT. Just across the aisle three red Ferrari Daytona coupes provided some international comparison, and they looked huge compared to the petit Toyota even though the shapes are very similar.
Heading out toward the ocean, I followed my ears to the skies to spot a trio of bi-planes putting on a display just a few hundred feet off the water. Thundering behind them was a B-24 Liberator bomber to make things more interesting. The display of vintage aircraft was a welcome addition to the stationary automobiles on the lawn, and I think everyone can appreciate the automobile’s airborne cousins.
Leveling back to earth I took the quick walk over to a multicolored row of early 911s. I spent the most time walking circles around a restored ’73 Chartreuse Targa and, also restored and also a 1973, a Carrera 2.7 RS in white with blue graphics and centers, always a nice combo in my opinion even if it’s not as flashy as some.
Behind the Porsches were a few more gorgeous Italians—the Lamborghini Islero 400 GTS that won its class for instance, along with another group of red Ferraris. The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance proved to be a blissfully relaxed automotive experience, especially when you can top off a day of amongst some of the world’s prettiest cars with a glass of champagne in view of the Pacific.