My Car Quest

September 28, 2021

Pebble Beach: The Concours Itself

by Wallace Wyss –

The day of the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance started out with a slight rain, and lots of the ladies who were wearing clothing designed to show their pulchritudinous physiques scrambled for scarves. I quite enjoyed the odd garb–some having coats that looked like Victorian England. Three chaps were over at a Ferrari display at the entrance in bathrobes (what other way to say “I’m staying at The Lodge?”)

Getting there is a formidable task, I would say three hours, and that’s starting from Carmel. The field was vast and varied. No matter how many times I come to Pebble I see different cars. The Ferrari area is where I hang out most and I was glad to see many Ferrari show cars, cars built as what we call “concept cars” today, only back then it was more some special customer ordering up a special for themselves say from Pininfarina with the provisio the car can be shown at Turin or Paris or somesuch.

Ingrid Bergmann Ferrari

Ingrid Bergmann Ferrari

In other words the customers paid for the customization. Very rare and fitting with the Ferrari emphasis at the Concours was a ’53 cabriolet, maybe the same one imported by Chinetti to America, one of the first street cars sold in America. That has so much chrome you have to do a double take, as it seemed like at that time Ferrari thought “maybe chrome is what sells in America.” They thought better of that later.

Another lean toward American tastes, (or was it the Americans cribbing from them?) a Superfast with tail fins that are akin to those on ’50s Chrysler products. America went with those fins on everything until the fad died. Also on that white one off was a fitted pair of side skirts in back, but they were a little late with those. Detroit
already gave up on skirts by the mid ’50s. Among them was the three seater 365P by Pininfarina, one of two, which probably gave the idea to McLaren of making a three seater.

Another early ’50s one had flying buttresses (sail panels) that preceded the 250LM and were pretty much copied by Corvette in the Sting Ray. A car I thought would win Best of Show because of its workmanship was the Iso Grifo prototype. Back in history I was searching for it, heard it had a bent nose but somebody got it right in restoring it and it is a stunning car to see boasting features not used on the
production car.

The star– value wise –had to be the 250GTO series II. I didn’t check the history but it could have been a Series I rebodied for owners of Series I’s who wanted the newer body. That style was originated by Pininfarina who felt left out when the ’63 was developed and wanted in.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO

Then there was the famous Ingrid Bergman car supposedly ordered for her, though I’ve never seen a picture of her driving it. It seems 300SLR in shape but was a true one off, with no other Ferrari having its lines. A 250GT cabriolet with cu-down doors might have been the one ordered by a factory driver Collins. Another notchback had what looks like a lift off hardtop.

Those who went to the concours but not the end of the tour the day before missed the excitement of hearing the cars as they roared across the “finish line” at Pebble Beach. I think the addition of the tour is a major challenge to other
concours, who will also have to have cars moving.

This year it seemed more of a business for Pebble Beach (though the business is to raise money for charity) what with a clothing store, and the RetroAuto store with appropriate motoring clothes like leather driving gloves. And of course the ubiquitous (for Pebble Beach) straw hat.

There were also lectures on car history taking place only a few yards away, and
a big display by Ferrari of several current models. I missed the 75 car Ferrari only parade which took place Saturday afternoon around the links because I was manning my Art & Books booth over at Concorso but Ferrari is to be congratulated for making that
show available for viewing for those who didn’t buy a ticket to the
concours. Think of it as a Ferrari-only concours.

In sum, Pebble Beach improves each year. It is, for the US, the sine qua non of all car shows. Overall, as a historian I appreciate the draw that it has for car collectors, causing them to go that extra length to find an unusual car with a history to restore instead of a production line version and show at Pebble. It’s European car History 101.

Oh, there are American cars on display there but it’s hard to beat those Specials built for European businessmen and royalty. There was also an electric car class but the only one that comes to mind is a tiny one, not much more than a golf cart in size. To think that could have been the way the industry grew…we almost went down that road.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss a fine artist, will be portraying some of the cars he saw at Monterey in oil on canvas. For samples and ordering info write malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 

 

 

More photos are in the slide show below.


Photos by Wallace Wyss.
Summary
Pebble Beach: The Concours Itself
Article Name
Pebble Beach: The Concours Itself
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The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance keeps getting better.
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Comments

  1. Thanks, Wallace. I really enjoyed your article today. And great pics as well. Wish I could have been there. Some day, perhaps? Tell me, never mind the humans, did those priceless cars get wet?

  2. Fred Johansen says

    I sure miss the motorcycles they used to feature.

  3. wallace wyss says

    They shook off their wetness and roared , like a good dog.

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