This year was the 67th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and what is universally acknowledged as the greatest concours/car show of its type in the world most certainly did not disappoint. Pebble Beach traditionally features a set number of judged car classes that range from early-Antiques through to Post-War Open/Touring with further sub categories of European Classics, Pre and Post-War Preservation and then single-marque heavyweights including Packard, Duesenberg, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz and of course the ever popular Ferrari classes.
This year Ferrari have been celebrating their 70th Anniversary and it was only to be expected that Pebble Beach would join in with the fun by adding two extra Ferrari classes, namely One-Off Speciales and Major Race Winners (How does 4 outright Mille Miglia and Le Mans winners and two ex-Nicki Lauda 312 F1’s from his world championship winning years sound?!), thus providing another bonanza for the ‘Ferraristi’. Ferrari themselves also organized a showcase of 70 more outstanding examples of the Maranello marque all lined up along Fairway One of the famed golf course for all assembled to enjoy.
Back on the show field more special classes for 2017 included three Isotta Fraschini classes (IF were Italian rivals to Duesenberg and Rolls-Royce and were extremely popular in period amongst movie stars and the rich and famous), two of which were “Coachwork by Castagna” and “American Dream Cars of the 1960s”. In the latter class were some truly amazing and fabulous cars including the unique and remarkable two-wheeled Gyro-X that looked as if it would topple over at any minute!
2017 was also the first time at the Pebble Beach Concours where post-war cars outnumbered pre-war cars on the field, as well as 54 first-time entrants. Last but by no means least, Pebble Beach featured a number of modern concept vehicles displayed on the putting green across from the front door of the Lodge. It was here where we get to view future production concept cars and ideas. Examples from Pagani, Mercedes, BMW, the new VW Buzz Concept and others were all greatly admired.
For those unfamiliar with the schedule, on the Thursday before the weekend most of the cars on display drive on the Pebble Tour, a route along the Pacific Coast Highway and back into Carmel for lunch. I personally felt like royalty as I was invited to sit (luxuriously) in the back of a 1963 Bentley S3 Continental H.J. Mulliner Coupe, and I then had the pleasure of taking the wheel on the run back up Highway One to Carmel for our lunch stop. I have undertaken this trip many times before but was astounded by the extra volume of eager crowds awaiting our arrival in Carmel. The added attraction is that not only can the general public enjoy a free show and have access to the cars and drivers, but also by driving their cars the majority of entrants (some of the racing categories are exceptions) can demonstrate that their vehicles are actually ‘Go’ and not merely ‘Show’! This can be an important factor during the Sunday judging in a tie-breaking decider.
On Concours day itself I had the privilege of once again joining the esteemed judging roster within which there was a mere 2,300 years of combined experience in the judging room on Sunday morning! My class was L1 Pre-War Preservation and our very young team this year included Paul Hageman and Leigh Keno both of whom are well respected for their knowledge. As always final decisions were far closer than one might have predicted with first place going to the unique ex-Captain Hewitt 1931 8 Litre W.O. Bentley with just 26,000 miles from new, second place went to the 1916 Locomobile Collapsible Cabriolet (which also won the FIVA Pre-War award) and third place went to another Bentley, this time a rare Speed Six Sports Saloon with coachwork by Gurney Nutting. From our friends at JD Classics, Derek Hood had entered his unrestored 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental in the Post-War Preservation Class and the team’s hard work was rewarded with the Post-War FIVA Trophy.