Held for the first time in 1950, the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is today the grande finale
of the Monterey motoring week. For the entrants and particularly their restorers, it often forms the culmination of years of hard work. Especially after the judging, a huge load falls off their shoulders although some anticipation remains for the award ceremony in the afternoon. Among the special classes in this, the 66th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, were ones for Delahaye, Chapron, Bizzarrini, the Lamborghini Miura and the Ford GT40. The latter was particular impressive, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ford's first win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a line-up of all the GT40s that scored a major victory in period.
We were at the fabled 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Course from the crack of dawn right through to the end of the day. The result is a class-by-class, 280-shot gallery
, which is complemented by a 40-shot gallery
from the Tour d'Elegance.
One of our favourite parts of the Monterey motoring week is the annual Tour d'Elegance staged on the Thursday before the Concours d'Elegance. Participants of Sunday's event are invited to demonstrate their cars on public roads. Successfully completing the Tour usually gives them an edge in case of a tie during judging on Sunday. This year's Tour was a little different as the route was altered and considerably shortened because of a massive wildfire that raged just south of Monterey. Although the roads on the route were open, the organisers decided to stay off the main roads to ensure the firefighters could move freely. Due to the changes in the route, it was also decided to take away the judging advantage. There were nevertheless a large number of entrants, who lined up for the start of the Tour on Thursday. The revised route covered all of the scenic 17-Mile Drive and also a run up the hill towards the Tehema estate.
Among the featured marques with separate classes this year were French coach-builder Chapron and manufacturer Delahaye. There is a considerable overlap between these two, so it was not surprising that one of these was for Chapron bodied Delahayes. Taking this class' top honours was the freshly restored Type 135 Coupe des Alpes fitted with one of seven roadster bodies of this style built by Chapron. It was acquired by the current owner in 2014 from the gentleman, who had enjoyed it for over 50 years. Our eye was particularly caught by the Prewar Delahaye class, which featured a fabulous selection of Figoni & Falaschi clothed examples. Among them were the particularly voluptuous stars of the 1936 and 1937 Paris Auto Salons in Coupe and Convertible form respectively. The latter was brought by the Revs Institute and apart from a respray to its original copper colour was completely original. This class was, however, won by the V12 engined and Figoni & Falaschi bodied Type 165 of the Robert M. Lee Automobile Collection. It was also among the three cars nominated for the coveted 'Best of Show' award.
A common theme at many events this year is BMW's 100th anniversary and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance was no exception as it reserved two classes for the German manufacturer. In the pre-War group, several 328s took centre stage. These included a 'regular' example, which eventually won the class and also two competition cars that successfully competed in the Mille Miglia. In the second class, one of the highlights was the 507 Roadster once owned by Elvis Presley. It had originally been finished in white but 'The King' had it re-painted red because so many of his fans left their lipstick on the car. In 2014, it was re-acquired by the BMW Group and has since been completely restored to its original white. Also included in this class were three of the famous BMW Art Cars. The earliest of these was the 3.0 CSL painted by Alexander Calder. Raced only once, at Le Mans in 1975, it was brought from the BMW Museum in Germany along with the Jeff Koons liveried BMW M3 GT2 of 2010 Le Mans fame. The third art car, the Frank Stella M1 Procar, was presented by a private owner.
Fans of Italian cars are always well catered for at Pebble but this year there was even more variety with special classes for Bizzarrini, the Lamborghini Miura and special bodied Fiats. These complemented the familiar Ferrari classes. The one for competition cars was headlined by the fantastic 330 P4 brought by Lawrence Stroll and driven onto the stage by Jackie Stewart to receive the first in class award. The tribute to Giotto Bizzarrini spanned much of his career and included his very first creation, a modified Fiat 500, two of the AMC AMX/3s and also all three of the open 5300 GTs. An absolute highlight was the P538, which was the one originally powered by the Bizzarrini designed Lamborghini V12 and as such can be considered the only car that is completely a complete Bizzarrini. The Miura class celebrated the 50th anniversary of the mid-engined supercar with five different examples. It was, however, surprising to see that none of the five were of the original P400 variety.
50th Anniversary of Ford's Le Mans win
Topping the bill at Pebble Beach this year was certainly the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Ford's breakthrough Le Mans victory. No fewer than sixteen examples of the iconic GT40 were lined up along the Pacific Coast. Among them were the three Mk2s that finished first, second and third in that historic 1966 edition of the endurance racing classic. The winning car was recently completely restored for its new owner and was not surprisingly named best in class. In addition to these, the winning Mk IV of 1967 and the Gulf GT40 that took victory in 1968 and 1969 were also present. The impressive line-up also featured the oldest surviving of the prototypes and the very first of the MkIII road cars. A particularly rare sight was one of three GT Roadsters as well as two of the five lightweight chassis built by Alan Mann. James Glickenhaus brought his Mk IV, which he regularly drives on the road, accruing over 40,000 miles.
Gaining an entry for the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is already quite an achievement, so each of the around 200 vehicles entered had an interesting backstory. We do not quite have the time and space to get into each of these but some could just not be left unmentioned. Among them was a particularly striking Cord Experimental Prototype brought by the National Automobile Museum. It was one of just handful of these experimental cars built, none of which were sold to the public in period. Bodied by LeBaron, this car was intended to form the basis for a new Duesenberg. The earliest car on the field was a fabulous Panhard & Levassor, which was understood to be the oldest surviving competition car produced by this pioneering manufacturer.
From all the class winners, it was the task of the honorary judges to pick the 'Best of Show'. They nominated three cars and eventually picked a lovely Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet as the winning car. Once owned by Eric Clapton and also displayed for many years in the Pininfarina museum, it was the subject of a six-year restoration, which proved well worth it.
With the highly anticipated announcement of the well deserved 'Best of Show', the 66th annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance came to a close. With the addition of the BMW and GT40 classes, the event catered to a broader audience than ever before. All of the above mentioned highlights and much, much more can be found in our class-by-class 280-shot gallery