My Car Quest

December 6, 2023

The Tour d’Elegance During Monterey Car Week

It’s more fun to see the crowd’s reactions than the cars…

by Wallace Wyss –

I hear expressions of shock at the prices of the Monterey events, well, lemme tell ya there’s one that is no cost. Zero. And yet you get to see some of the crème de la crème of Pebble Beach. That is the Tour d’Elegance sponsored by Pebble Beach.

This year it had to be shortened because of fire fighting going on South of Carmel.

Those already enrolled to display their cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance are invited to take their cars on the tour on the preceding Thursday. And to me, while it is nice to be out in the sticks (like near the Bixby bridge) waiting for a car to go by in order to photograph it, I would rather be in the village of Carmel, shooting pictures as the crowds jam up against the car.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada In Motion – photo by Steve Natale

You can see their expressions and hear their chortles of delight as they see a car more fantastic than they ever imagined. The crowd also consists of tourists who are in Carmel for the day and never heard of Monterey Car Week.

Ferrari 250 GT

A Ferrari 250 GT gave the crowd a glimpse of La Dolce Vita

I have to give the car owners credit–nothing makes you more nervous than people who have never been up against expensive cars before and could fall on it or otherwise harm it. But hey this is the real world and they get points for going on the tour that could help them later at the concours when, say, the judges can’t decide between their car and a rival in its class for an award. The one that has extra points for the tour could win.

I really admire the owners of full competition cars, cars that were not made to toddle through villages like Carmel but instead to be out there on the road or track going full tilt boogie. The fact they can tame their steeds down enough to go through Carmel is a victory in itself. I think, of the whole weekend, they will remember the tour most.

We couldn't identify this car but, hey, what better way to introduce a new prototype to the world than put it in the center of a crowd?

We couldn’t identify this car but, hey, what better way to introduce a new prototype to the world than put it in the center of a crowd?

One surprise is that you see the occasional car there that will not be at Pebble Beach, someone’s one-off special they are promoting, or a perfectly ordinary car, but that’s not a mistake–this is all for charity so Pebble allows car owners whose cars are not in the concours to pay the entry fee and go on the tour. I bet it makes for a memorable journey, riding along in your regular car in such resplendent company.

Ferrari SWB

This gold Ferrari SWB didn’t look like a stock color but then who knows, maybe it was ordered that way

Ferrari California Spyder

We talked to Tom Tjaarda, American designer in Italy, at the tour and I’m sure he was mighty proud to have designed this 365 California Spyder while at Pininfarina

As a fine artist, I’ll be making a painting of the scenes that struck me most, and hope to capture some of that feeling you see when you go to the Mille Miglia in Italy where a crowd surrounds the cars as they launch one by one on their 1,000 mile long run….these cars launching into one of the most competitive car concours on earth…

By the way parking is extremely limited in Carmel on this day and I counted myself lucky only having to walk a mile, a very hilly mile as well. If you have a companion who is athletically challenged, drop them off first before you go look for parking…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist. For a list of available prints of his paintings, text your e-mail address to 213-344-6438.

All photos by Wallace Wyss unless otherwise noted.


Iso Grifo A3/C

Iso Grifo A3/C in Motion – photo by Steve Natale

The Tour d’Elegance During Monterey Car Week
Article Name
The Tour d’Elegance During Monterey Car Week
This is how you can see many of the cars going to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for free.


  1. As a participant, this is always my favorite part of the week. It’s wonderful to be on the road with all the amazing cars. Even more impressive is the enthusiasm of the crowds on Ocean Avenue at the end of the tour. Thanks for highlighting this event.

  2. Don Meluzio says

    Michael Ecksteins car at Speed surely shows the beauty of a 5300 GT. Especially in Eckstein Green! It was so great to see the Eckstein Family attending Pebble in Tribute to Father, husband Gerd Eckstein. I miss Gerds Freindship, and his expert Iso/Bizzarrini knowledge.

  3. Mark Fleege says

    We had a great time in Monterey at the car shows and all around town, beautiful cars everywhere. The two Grifo’s that sold at the Gooding auction, shows that these cars are finally coming into their own, strong market for these beautiful cars.

  4. Great point about enjoying the week (or part of it) without the high fees, Wallace. Tuesday you can see the Carmel Concours on the Avenue, Wednesday is the Pacific Grove Little Car Show, Thursday is the Pebble Beach Tour, and Saturday a few people might enjoy LeMons. And there are so many car spotting opportunities on the streets and parking lots of Monterey and Carmel during the week, plus cars being dropped off for the big shows. All the auctions seem to charge for previews now, but one $40 fee might be well worth an hour or two of looking around.

  5. Our club Fiat America calls this Frugal Thursday and we meet at a member’s house who provides parking about a mile from downtown Carmel. I’m physically challenged but was able to walk down and cab back. Great opportunity to see all the cars go by then walk to see them close up and speak with the owners and other interesting people on the street. Timing the drive to and from the wonderful Carmel area makes one very happy to live relatively close by in San Jose and when done properly most traffic can be avoided. Mecum’s auctions provide many cars but’s so crowded that only a few have seats close to the cars when on the block but they can be viewed on the grounds prior. Thus we record the auctions so we can fast forward through the volume of commercials which seem to take up at least half or more of the broadcast. Participating in the Concorso Italiano with our club has been very much fun and we get together with the Alfa Romeo club for dinner afterwards which allows the traffic to thin out before our drive home later all the while feeling damn lucky to live in the Bay Area.

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