My Car Quest

June 16, 2024

Pebble Beach Concours 2023: More Spectacular Than Ever

by Wallace Wyss –

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the most well known concours not only because it has been around since 1950 but because it’s always innovating. There’s always some surprise (come to think of it, have they had ice cream trucks yet?)

They are not the staid collection of pre-war cars you imagine–there’s plenty of postwar cars and there’s always that stepping outside of the traditional classic cars to see what the people out there are doing with cars—they’ve even had hot rods, the anthesis of a 100% original-from-the-automaker car.

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

This year, the field of 216 cars was divided into 27 classes, including classes commemorating anniversaries for the marques Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche. Even at a time in automotive history when automakers are scrambling to go all electric, tossing internal combustion engines into the scrap pile of history Pebble still celebrates the achievements of the past. Even when 20 years from now the US may have gone all electric you know they will be celebrating automotive achievements from the past 130 years.

This year a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster was selected Best of Show, showing that Pebble judges sill have the same criterion–they like good engineering, reasonable performance but above all, grandeur in styling. It’s no coincidence those hand built Specials of Mercedes have won Best of Show ten times–they were arguably the high point of styling before the war. (True French cars like Delahaye and Delage were more dramatic but not the engineering marvels that Mercedes built).

Pebble Beach Concours

New categories appear each year. Categories new for 2023 included Lamborghini’s 60th Anniversary, McLaren’s 60th Anniversary, and Porsche 75th Anniversary. For those, a 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 Bertone Coupé, a 1967 McLaren M6A Can-Am Race Car, and a 1963 Porsche 901 Prototype “Quickblau” Karmann/Reutter Coupe finished first in their respective classes.

RACE CARS BRING NEW AGE RANGE TO DEMOGRAPHICS

By the way another thing these new categories do is make the audience average age younger. With the old antique car concours those born postwar thought “Why go–what the hell is a Minerva?” but now names like McLaren being shown get the blood a-pumpin’.

There was even a Mercedes more than 100 years old that won a prize–a 1908 Benz 105 HP Prinz Heinrich Two Seat Race Car. Pebble seems wary of how new a car to allow in, while the most contemporary was a 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe.

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

Almost every car that wins an award at Pebble has a back story, on how they came to be and this year’s winner is no exception–it was once owned by the Shah of Afghanistan. In those predays potentates round the world ordered Rolls Royce or Mercedes, a few of them the Special models. This car came from the Jim Patterson Collection in Kentucky, marking his third time taking the top prize at Pebble Beach.

There are many other awards after Best of show. The Elegance Awards went to the 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Saoutchik Cabriolet, the 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante and the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB (short wheelbase) by Scaglietti which had extra edge in being an alloy bodied Comp where most SWB’s were steel bodied. The Classic Car Club of America Trophy was awarded to the 1930 Cadillac 452 Fleetwood All Weather Phaeton.

Special Awards went to the 1936 Hispano-Suiza J-12 Saoutchik Cabriolet, the ’23 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Pall Mall, and the ’63 Quickblau prototype of the Porsche 901 built by Karmann and Reutter and the rare Edwards America Convertible of 1954. Edwards would have been a luxury sports car for Americans similar to Packard Caribbean but never got beyond three cars.

Special awards also went to the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK Sport Two Seater, to the elegant 1952 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Touring Spider (also winner of the Chairman’s Trophy went) and the Lamborghini Miura P400 Bertone Coupé of 1968. I never heard Miuras described with the coachbuilder’s name attached but that is in the classic car tradition. Still, all Miuras were by Bertone so naming the coachbuilder every time you name the car isn’t so necessary.

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

The Classic Car Club of America—a key club in keeping track of car history—had their Trophy awarded to the 1930 Cadillac 452 Fleetwood All Weather Phaeton while the Elegance in Motion Trophy to the 1947 Delahaye 135 MS Figoni et Falaschi Narval Cabriolet. The name “narval” refers to the nose being styled like the Narval whale, sounds ugly but other than the nose it is one of the best styled cars in history.

Most Pebble aficionados recognize Italy and France as making special contributions to styling and accordingly there was a Made in Italy class where the 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Figoni Coupé won the Gran Turismo Trophy, the ’56 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Pinin Farina Coupé took the FIVA Postwar Trophy, the ’57 Maserati 200SI Fantuzzi Spyder took the Phil Hill Cup while a Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta the prestigious Enzo Ferrari Trophy.

Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach Concours

You wouldn’t think a race car built to go 200 mph on the track only could motor at a discreet 5 mph across golf green but the 1965 McLaren M1A did it gracefully. An ’88 McLaren MP4/4-2 Formula 1 also paraded without difficulty on the Green of the Pebble Beach golf club.

In Ferraris first among the Grand Touring the ’53 212 Inter Vignale Coupé and among the the race cars,’57 the 500 TRC Barchetta by Scaglietti.

CASA FERRARI’S FREE SHOW

Ironically only 200 feet East of Pebble’s field, there were several dozen Ferraris, including historic race cars, viewable for free, part of the Casa Ferrari show. Among the Fazazz was a genuine 250GTO, worth more than a quarter of the cars on the Pebble Concours field put together. That free show, by the way, takes some of the sting out of the concours tickets now being North of $500 (by the way half the price of another show on the Peninsula taking place the day before which features many new cars).

Pebble also created two new ways to see the Pebble Concour cars for free–there are two tours where the launch can be seen and when they arrive back. There is nothing like seeing a ’50 Ferrari growling round a corner compared to the same car being parked on a lawn with a sign in front of it.

Pebble Beach Concours

I saw many of these same cars from my 50 years as an auto reporter on the road before they were concours material. Specifically I remember the 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I drophead ‘Honeymoon Express’ by Freestone & Webb. I remember researching it once—a tail finned two seater Rolls-only to find out who it was built for? Whose honeymoon? But then I found there were three of them so some of the glamor wore off. And what happened when the first couple who owned the first one got divorced? The Divorce Express?

Pebble Beach Concours

In addition to cars there were motorcycles but I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment. There were one or two new cars in the fringes like a Lexus 430 retractable, I think those were prizes in a raffle. Thankfully they don’t have new cars within view generally or it would spoil the ambiance. Not too many people were wearing clothing of the eras of their car—I wish they would make that a rule for those displaying cars much as Lord March does at Goodwood in some areas of his event. I enjoyed the long dresses and huge hats of some of the ladies but few of the men wore vintage styled garb.

Pebble Beach Concours

Food booths were along the edges with tables and chairs to make it comfortable though prices were steep. There are also souvenir shops on the perimeter of the golf green selling purses, hats etc. all bearing the Pebble Beach logo.

Pebble Beach Concours

Overall I would say, if you have always been a car enthusiast, Pebble Beach should be your once a year be-all end-all destination—I guarantee it, you will see cars there that you will never forget.

Pebble Beach Concours

Our author/artists, Wallace Wyss, getting inspired

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss, a long time historian and radio show co-host, now is a fine artist painting portraits of classic cars on commission. For sample pictures write malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 

Pebble Beach View

A Pebble Beach View

Photos by Wallace Wyss.

Summary
Pebble Beach Concours 2023: More Spectacular Than Ever
Article Name
Pebble Beach Concours 2023: More Spectacular Than Ever
Description
The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the most well known concours not only because it has been around since 1950 but because it's always innovating.
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Comments

  1. Bob Wachtel says

    Absolutely beautiful photography of magnificent automobiles with a breathtaking background.

  2. A stunning look at a very special world…

  3. You’re right – what an experience. Complete overload – and for that reason, fantastic. It would have been helpful if you were to have noted the year, make, model (and coachbuilder!) of the photos imbedded in your article.

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