Pebble Beach Returns with a Vengeance
Last month’s “teaser” was Carmel’s Concours-on-the-Ave, the beginning of Monterey Car Week. For motoring enthusiasts around the world, California becomes the place to be. And this past August, the events were packed. Everything from the historic racing at Laguna Seca to the Concours d’Elegance itself, you couldn’t help but feel the energy, optimism and enthusiasm that was Monterey Car Week.
One of the premier events of the week, Concorso Italiano is where the lovers of Italian vehicles gather. On the fairways of Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course, over 560 examples of Italian motoring history gathered. This year, numerous anniversaries were celebrated. The Lancia Lambda’s 100th and the Lamborghini Countach’s 50th represent cars that brought a new dynamic to the automotive world. The charm of Concorso, is that while it brings together the very finest of Italian motoring, the owners are friendly and approachable, always willing to answer any questions you may have.
In a prelude to the Concours on Sunday, a special event, the Tour d’Elegance, also brought out the early birds for a close up experience with approximately 150 cars that ultimately lined the field at Pebble. Thursday morning, the Tour began at Pebble Beach, traced 17-mile Drive, Highway One to Big Sur. In a departure from previous years, the cars did not return to the crowds on Ocean Ave in Carmel but returned to Pebble directly. Nevertheless, those at the Tour got the rare pleasure of hearing and feeling those engines revving at the Start. It truly is a highlight of the week.
Action was also heated up at the auctions. Car collectors were ready to spend. RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Gooding & Company all posted record sales. It was also a personal experience for one of our club members, Brad, who sold his freshly restored E-type at RM Sotheby’s on Friday night. More on the auctions in a future article!
Of course, the entire week is geared for the finale – the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s 70th edition was truly the grand and elegant finale to a phenomenal week. This year, 230 of the finest cars in the world lined the fairway at Pebble with the stunning ocean backdrop. A very special event this year was the 38 past Pebble Beach Best of Show winners present. There was an exclusive category for the Porsche 917 and one honoring the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Countach. For us Jaguar enthusiasts, the event had even more special entries. The first Pebble Beach Road Race was held seven decades ago. Held on the twisty, narrow roads around the Lodge at Pebble Beach, that first race was won by none other than legendary race car driver Phil Hill. That car, along with the other early race winners were positioned along the coastline at the Concours. As Derek Hill, Phil’s son describes, “My father brought this car over from England. He customized it, stripped the weight off it, showed up, and he won – the first major race he ever won.” We caught up with current owner, Mark Miller, who graciously agreed to bring the car to Pebble. Mark added to the story by mentioning that Phil had the car packed on the ship as “carry on luggage” when returning from England. Mark has meticulously maintained the car during the past five years of ownership. Of course, being a Jaguar, a leak problem immediately before the Concours required some fancy footwork to fix. But Concours-ready it was. A masterpiece of motoring.
Another special vehicle, owned by Lisa and Jim Hendricks of St. Louis was the rare and beautiful 1935 SS Cars Airline Coupe. This car was only in production for two years, from 1934 to 1936, during which time 624 were built out of a total production run of 4,254 SS1 cars of all types. This was a beautifully streamlined automobile, its design attributed to William Walmsley, William Lyon’s original partner. This car is one of 12 survivors, and presumed to be the only SS1 Airline still with its original body, chassis, engine and dual RAG carburetors. The car has been beautifully restored in its original silver paint and special light blue leather upholstery. Truly a work of art even amongst a field of incredible works of art.
In the end, the 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier – the only one in the world – was awarded the Best of Show trophy.
After missing a year, Monterey Week certainly didn’t disappoint. Everything from the Little Car Show in Pacific Grove to the weather, was perfection. Stay tuned for commentary on the return to live auctions!
Next stop, Stowe, Vermont for British Invasion!