Photos by Bob Golfen
An older gentleman was sitting next to me Sunday on the shuttle bus as we left the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. As we pulled away, he said, “That’s another one off my bucket list.”
Indeed. For classic car enthusiasts, the Pebble Beach Concours does have the life-experience importance of such things as visiting the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China. The granddaddy of all today’s competitive car shows (or old-car beauty pageants, as some call them), the 64-year-old concours in coastal California is a landmark event that holds true to its great traditions while ever changing in its scope and competitive results.
This year came the shocker of the first post-WWII car to win Best of Show since 1968, and the first Ferrari ever. And a re-bodied one at that.
But beyond all that stuff is the exquisite beauty of more than 200 pieces of automotive history rolled out onto the magnificent 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach golf links alongside a scenic ocean inlet and adjacent to the Pebble Beach Lodge. The show’s the thing, and the only way to appreciate all that’s offered is to walk among them and take it all in.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the Pebble Beach experience is seeing the valuable entries on the open road for the Tour d’Elegance, which gives onlookers an opportunity to see the rare automobiles for what they really are: motorcars built for driving. The ancient antiques chuffing and struggling to go up hills, the grand classics smoothly rolling along in quiet splendor, raucous race cars and sports cars that howl with performance, they all join in to delight crowds along the way.
The 2014 Concours featured special classes honoring the innovative American brand Ruxton, the 100th anniversary of Maserati, the famous Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa racers, the unique cars of Czech automaker Tatra, early cars powered by steam, coachwork by Fernandez et Darrin, post-war Rolls-Royce Phantoms, and vintage motorcycles made in Eastern Europe. As usual, there were preservation classes for old cars that have survived unrestored.
Another Pebble Beach Concours is history, but setting the tone for all the others, changing the playing field once again while challenging the faithful to abide by the traditions.