Celebrating 60 years of automotive excellence
Established in 1950 and long since the most important even of its type, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance was held for the 60th time this year. The anniversary will be marked, later in the year, with the publication of the book that features all entrants and winners of the 60 editions. On the 18th fairway of the legendary golf course, the celebrations were limited to the display of three cars that had previously starred on the event's poster; a Pinin Farina Cadillac V16, one of the Alfa Romeo B.A.T.s and a Zagato Ferrari. Featured on the 2010 poster were three 8C Alfa Romeo's in honour of the Italian manufacturer's centennial. Further manufacturers and anniversaries celebrated with separate classes included Pierce-Arrow, Coachwork by Ghia, Jaguar's 75th Anniversary, fifty years of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and the Indianapolis 500 Centennial. Building on last year's success of the first ever motorcycle class, a second two-wheeler class was added, both focusing on American prewar bikes. As has become traditional the event was kicked off with the Tour d'Elegance on Thursday.
We followed the Tour all the way down Highway 1 to Big Sur, and were on the field together with the 'dawn patrol' and left together with the last cars. The result can be found in these 80-shot
The entries for the Concours d'Elegance are usually a pretty well kept secret. Much was already revealed early on Thursday morning as the 170 participants of the Tour were rolled out of the massive trucks at the Polo Field just north of the Pebble Beach Lodge. In recent years Sunday's 'Best of Show' also completed the Tour and usually also stood out. One of this year's outstanding cars was Sam Mann's Duesenberg with a very rare and equally elegant Graber body. Another noteworthy participant was the resurrected Bugatti Type 57 S Atlantic but more about that car later. The earliest car present and the oldest Mercedes still on the road was Arturo Keller's Simplex 28 hp Tourer. Amazingly, it had also completed the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic a few days earlier. This multi-day and multi-state tour runs from Seattle to Pebble Beach.
Spread over three groups and headed by Sir Stirling Moss in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, the participants took the familiar route along 17-Mile Drive, through Tehama and Monterra estates and down Highway 1 to Big Sur. On the way back the cars were parked on Ocean Avenue in Carmel while the drivers enjoyed lunch. This year there were more spectators along the course than we had ever seen before.
One of America's most prolific automotive pioneers was George Norman Pierce. Under the Pierce name he started with (motorised) bicycles in the late 19th century, followed soon after by motor cars like the Motorette, Stanhope and the Arrow. The latter became so popular that the company changed its name to Pierce-Arrow. The cars built by George Norman Pierce were not only among the most expensive of their day but also featured many novel ideas of which the fender-mounted headlights introduced in 1913 were the most famous. Pierce-Arrows were also the cars of choice of America's presidents. Still independent, the company flourished in the 1920s and survived one bankruptcy some years later while under Studebaker ownership. Production finally did cease and the factory was closed in May of 1938.
Nearly 3,000 Pierce-Arrows are known to have survived and quite a few of them have at one point graced the Pebble Beach lawn. In 1955 the late, great Phil Hill brought a 1931 vintage Model 41 and scored the very first 'Best of Show' victory for a classic car. Still owned by the Hill family, that very same car was one of the highlights of this year's Pierce-Arrow display. Another was Don Williams' mighty Silver Arrow, which was one of the last great Pierce-Arrows.
Alfa Romeo Centennial
Two separate classes highlighted Alfa Romeo's centennial, which was quite a constrast with five years ago,when the Italian manufacturer's 95th anniversary was celebrated with no fewer than eight classes. One was a general class for competition and special coach-built Alfas and the other featured many variants of the legendary 8C model of the 1930s. As they did in 2005, the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico sent over a selection of their inventory. Most of these museum cars had not previously been shown at Pebble. Among them was the highly unusual Tipo A Grand Prix car of 1931, which is powered by two six cylinder engines mounted side by side in the chassis. Providing a unique insight into Alfa Romeo chassis was the bare 6C 2300B, shown by Barry Hon halfway through its restoration. This was basically how Alfas left the factory before being sent to specialist coach-builders. In the case of Mr Hon's car that was Touring, who fitted the rolling chassis with a coupe body. Milan, Italy based collector Corrado Lopresto shipped two of his many unique Alfas to the United States. Both used 6C 2500 SS chassis but one was clothed by Bertone and the other by Pinin Farina. The latter has been a regular on the European concours scene, while the former made its post-restoration debut. The 8C class featured two very early 2300s, which were raced by the works in 1931 and later sold to Scuderia Ferrari. One of them was then used by Enzo Ferrari in his last ever race as a driver.
Jaguar 75th Anniversary
William Lyons first produced custom coach-work for other manufacturers' chassis before producing his first car, the S.S.1, in the early 1930s. Although the company's official name still included S.S. (Standard Swallow), the Jaguar name was first introduced in 1935. For understandable reasons, the SS was dropped altogether after the War. The birth of Jaguar, 75 years ago, was celebrated at Pebble with a pair of dedicated classes. The first featured a wide range of Jaguar products, ranging from the 1935 S.S. 90 prototype to the mid-engined XJ13 built in 1966. A Jaguar class is, of course, not complete with examples of the Le Mans winning C-Type and D-Type. The C-Type on the lawn was the first ever brought to the United States, which was raced in period by Phil Hill. Both D-Types present were ex-works cars and were raced multiple times at Le Mans but without the success enjoyed by their siblings. The second Jaguar class provided one of this year's most spectacular sights as it consisted of no fewer than twelve of the sixteen XKSS road cars produced in 1957. Among them was the example famously owned by actor and 'king of cool' Steve McQueen in the 1960s.
Indianapolis 500 Centennial Celebrations
On May 30 2011, it will be exactly 100 years since Ray Harroun and co-driver Cyrus Patschke completed the very first 500-mile race on the Indianapolis oval. The centennial celebrations were kicked off by bringing together a remarkable collection of Indy racers, including several winners. Six of these were brought by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, headed by the 1911 Indy winning Marmon Wasp. Of similar importance is the Henry Ford's Lotus 38 Ford, which has recently been lovingly restored by Classic Team Lotus. In the hands of Jim Clark, it scored the very first victory for a mid-engined car in 1965. It was also the first Ford-engined car to win the race. This was, however, certainly not the first European success in the American race as the likes of Peugeot, Mercedes and Maserati all made to it winner's circle. Peugeot scored a total of three victories but in 1920 missed the mark with a car that featured a triple overhead camshaft engine, which proved hopelessly unreliable. One of those team cars was brought from Argentina by Carlos and Daniel Sielecki, fitted with the more common 'twin-cam' engine used by Peugeot after the disastrous 1920 Indy race. That same year a Ballot finished in second despite being crashed heavily two days earlier. Still wearing the marks of its repairs, this car was brought by George F. Wingard, fresh from a complete restoration. It was actually entered in the separate Open Wheel Race Cars class, which it duly won. Fittingly the Indy 500 class was won by one of the great 'Roadsters' of the 1950s; the Kurtis Kraft KK 500B 'Bardahl Special' owned by Bill Akin.
A Bugatti controversy
One of the most talked about entries this year was the Torrota Collection's Bugatti Type 57 S Atlantic. Originally built as the third of four Atlantics, the car was involved in a horrific collision with a train during the 1950s. Both occupants died on the spot and very little remained of the car. The few bits that did remain were retained by the railroad authorities for a decade before they were acquired by Paul Andre Berson. He spent the next nine years to reconstruct the car from scratch, apparently using only the shock absorbers. This 'new' Atlantic was subsequently owned for many years by Nicolas Seydoux until it was acquired by the current owner in 2004. At the same time the new owner managed to acquire all of the remaining parts from Berson through Jean Sage. Reportedly Berson had held onto them with the intent to build a second car. Both the parts and the car were delivered to Atlantic restoration expert Paul Russell with the request to integrate as many of the original parts and panels into the car built by Berson. Russell explained that the body panels revealed the correct colour grey to paint the car and the leather wrapped around the aluminium dashboard provided enough information for the interior trim. Several of the panels were carefully restored and fitted to the car. For obvious reasons the car was not judged but there were several entrants who felt this 'replica' had no place on the lawn at Pebble. Others were not so firm and considered the Atlantic an interesting addition to the field. What was undisputed was the beautiful result of Russell's two-year restoration.
Best of Show
After a long, even for Pebble standards, award ceremony, four of the class winners were called forward as the 'Best of Show Nominees'. Among them was the aforementioned Duesenberg as well as a Bentley Speed Six and a Delage D8 120, which both had also completed the Tour on Thursday. It was, however, the fourth nominee that clinched the coveted 'Best of Show' trophy, despite skipping the Tour. This was the de Villars bodied Delage D8 S entered in the Concours d'Elegance by the Patterson Collection. Built in 1933, the completely white Delage was first shown at that year's Paris Auto Salon. During the 1950s it was owned by the 'Gran Hotel Velasquez' in Madrid, Spain. They most likely reserved the one-off machine as the personal transport for their most important guests. After its 'shuttle' services, it was retired and did not appear in public until RM Auctions' 2007 Monterey sale, where it was acquired by the current owner. Before it was offered, it was completely restored by RM to its original configuration. The 'Best of Show' win for the de Villars Delage is the fourth for an RM restored car in ten years. A combination of a fabulous chassis and spectacular coach-work, the Patterson Delage D8 S de Villars Roadster was a well deserved 60th winner of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
The 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has provided some lasting memories like the spectacular line-up of XKSS Jaguars and the large gathering of Indy 500 winners. Perhaps the earlier conclusion that the 60th anniversary celebrations were limited was incorrect; the quality and diversity of the field as a whole proved to be a fitting celebration. Next year the Concours d'Elegance will feature Mercedes-Benz and 125 Years of the Automobile, the Stutz Centennial, the Ferrari 250 GTO and Italian motorcycles. For now we invite you to explore our exclusive galleries from this year's Tour