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Pebble Beach, 18th of August, 2013

After the daily reports from this year’s Monterey Car Week today we start with our final reports on the main events on the Monterey Peninsula with the highlighting Pebble Beach Concours d´Elegance at the concluding Sunday. Already in its 63rd edition the prestigious concours once more proved its leading role in the concours circuit with many post restoration debuts among the 250 cars in no less than 30 different classes to combine both quality and quantity like no other event in the world.

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But the activities did not start on Sunday but again on Thursday morning when many of the entered cars were lined up in front of the Gooding&Company auction tent to take the annual Tour d´Elegance under their wheels. When the concours business became really serious more and more cars were restored for show purposes and to prove the ability to drive under own power for a longer distance than from the trailer to the lawn the tour was invented several years ago. Today the scenic drive down on highway 1 to the turning point at Big Sur is one of the highlights both for entrants and visitors. This year’s tour had a few novelties as it included a lap on the Laguna Seca raceway for the first time in years and was divided in two rather than three groups of cars to keep them more together on their way to the backcountry. But most important it started in full sunshine as this might be the first time that the usual morning fog was missing in the bay area during the tour.

As this is the first (and more important free) opportunity to see the entered cars the start was very well visited and some of the owners were happy when leaving the busy start for the drive by the Lodge on the 17-Miles Drive. After the lap on the Laguna Seca Raceway including the famous corkscrew the journey led over the Laureles Grade to the Carmel Valley back to the ocean pointing south towards Big Sur giving plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the cars at the coastline. Unfortunately the traffic on Highway 1 was still a mess due to the construction work on the road for the reconstruction of the road after the landslide in 2011. The one way traffic with red lights and long waiting times took apart the groups but finally all of the cars arrived at Carmel for the lunch stop on the Ocean Avenue that already showcased the Concours on the Avenue earlier this week. As this is the possibility to take a closer look at the cars the down town of Carmel-by-the-Sea was very crowded that day and as the judges had an even closer look on the cars the following Sunday many entrants might have been relieved escaping the turmoil without scratches to stow the cars safely in the trailer for the next days or in nearby garages for a final touch on the finish for the big day.

Sunday morning started very early with hundreds of people waiting on the lawn well before sunrise for the first cars to enter at 6 am. Led by the Siata 208CS Balbo the cars were set up on their marked spots guided by the numerous volunteers in golf carts, the photographers were hurrying between the cars to get a few pictures before the opening to the public and the owners prepared their cars for the judging. Over the next hours the field constantly filled with visitors and the amount of people showed the importance and popularity of the concours despite high entrance fees. Being a charity event the 2013 edition raised once more a significant amount of money symbolized by a big cheque during the winner’s ceremony handed over by PB chairman Sandra Button.

Walking down the field one could see the usual classes of American and European Classics both from the pre- and the post- war era plus several special classes, be it for featured manufacturers or coachbuilders spanning almost 8 decades ranging from a 1906 Pope-Toledo to a 1979 Porsche 935 K3.

The first special class featured the cars of Simplex with cars built before WWI in New York.

Eight examples of the bras era represented the short but very interesting history of the Simplex Automobile Company ranging the 38HP model to the biggest 90HP model with coachwork by Quinby and Holbrook. Although Simplex had a good name and owners included Frederick Vanderbilt and the Rockefeller family the company was in financial trouble several times and finally disappeared after some years just as many others during this period.

About at the same time on the other side of the Atlantic the history of Aston Martin started. Back in 1913 Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded the legendary British sport car manufacturer and celebrating it centenary this was well worth a special class. Oldest car in the class was the 1925 Grand Prix car with a 16 valve double camshaft driven 1.5 litre engine representing the short Bamford era. After the change of the ownership the Bertelli years were represented by 3 of the later 1.5 litre models, the road cars on the MKII range (both in long and short chassis variants) and one of the Le Mans Team cars brought over by Nick Mason, former drummer and well known classic car collector. LM18 comes from the era when the racing Astons were painted red (as Bertelli was Italian) rather than British Racing Green to build the fame of Aston Martin at Le Mans with many class wins. The Ulster on show was third in class and won the Road & Track award.

After the war Aston Martin became known internationally due to the efforts of David Brown to build the best GT cars and win Le Mans with a car bearing its own name. After first attempts with the closed DB2 Aston Martin started to produce open race cars starting with the DB3 as shown on the field (DB3/5) designed by Eberan von Eberhorst followed by the DB3S designed by Frank Feely. The DB3S was entered as a work team car (DB3S/1) and also available as a customer race car (DB3S/120) and the two cars on the field were the first and the last of a total production if 31 (11 team and 20 customer cars). The later one is one of just 2 closed cars built at the end of production after some of the team cars featuring the same design without success.

Later David Brown achieved the Le Mans victory and sports car championship with the DBR1, shown on the lawn was the bigger DBR2. Unlike the DBR1 that matched the 3 litre restrictions of the time the DBR2 was based on the Lagonda project chassis and featured the bigger 3.7 Litre DB4 engine and raced in the open class (later as 4.2 Litre) both in Europe and America, DBR2/2 today is a regular guest at the historic races in Laguna Seca and was raced the day before by its owner Greg Whitten. The last of the racing cars was one of the DB4 GT that competed with the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and GTO in the GT classes, more important the car on show (DB4GT/0151/L) was one of the Ogier Race cars, a factory supported race stable including drivers like Moss, Salvadori and Clark.

But Aston Martin did not just build race cars as shown by the DB MKIII, a rare Bertone bodied DB2/4 and the Short Chassis Volante. Over the years the DB2 was developed into the final version of the DB MKIII with very few special bodied variations beside the factory Saloon, DHC and FHC. One of these special bodied cars was the DB2/4 by Bertone for Wacky Arnolt. Featuring a sportive open design these steel bodied spiders were intended for the American market by Arnolt but stayed a small production of just three examples to this design. The car shown in PB was the last one and is extensively restored including a more fashionable burgundy red rather than the original British Racing Green as indicated in the engine compartment. Nevertheless the shiny car was awarded with the Best in Class award followed by the very rare Short Chassis Volante. Built on the chassis of the DB5 this open version was introduced with the DB6 and is the first Aston to be named Volante, a designation that is used to the present day for the open versions at AM.

Exactly half the age of Aston Martin is Lamborghini celebrating the golden jubilee with an own class as well. A small but interesting display of the early 350 GT, the famous Miura and Countach plus the less known Espada and Islero gave a good overview of the classic era of the Italian sports car manufacturer.

The same anniversary is celebrated by one of the most iconic automobile designs, the Porsche 911. Still the top model of Porsche today the first Porsche 911 designed by Butzi Porsche was unveiled at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1963. Following the 4- cylinder 356 the all-new 911 (named 901 in the beginning) became base for the racing activities of the marque and the long runner in the sales room as displayed by two special classes for road and race cars.

The road car class featured one of the prototypes both of the coupé and the following Targa variation. At the end of the 1960s the 911 was available in different power variations, the S type was the most powerful and today is the most sought after. Especially since the sale of the Steve McQueen 911 S used in the movie Le Mans the 911 S came more into focus although not few think that the tamer E and T models are easier to drive on the public road.

The 1973 Porsche 911 2.7 RS bridged the road to the race car class. Although the 911 was used for race purposes right from the beginning (as seen with the 4 911R and 911S models) the stripped lightweight RS with the rear spoiler became base for the RSR. Maybe the most successful of the RSR was the Martini livery factory team car (911 360 0588) that won the 1973 Targa Florio when the favoured prototypes from Ferrari and Alfa Romeo did not finish. The car is today restored to exact the same specifications as in 1973 including the unique rear spoiler running over the full width of the body. With the introduction of the turbo engine the Porsche 935 became the car to beat in its class and the private entered 935 K3 of Kremer racing won the Le Mans 1979 race, this most significant 911 derivate also won its class this Sunday in Pebble Beach.

Not a special class but one of the single marque classes is the Ferrari class, both for the odd numbered street cars and the even numbered competition cars.

Unlike the other classes the Ferrari Grand Touring class for road cars featured few post restoration debuts as some of them were seen earlier this year at the Cavallino Classics in Palm Beach. This included the two first places in the class, the 250 GT Speciale (0425GT) and the 212 Inter Vignale Berlinetta (0163E). Fresh from restoration was the 250 GT LWB California Spider (1639GT) that was sold exactly one year earlier at a record price of more than 11 Mio $ at the Gooding Auction from the Sherman Wolf collection. Back then presented in dark red the car is now repainted in Rosso Bordeaux Metallic. Just the day before the owner of this car added the most expensive Ferrari on auction (the 275 GTB/4 NART Spider at the RM Auction) to his impressive collection and one can be curious whether this car will be seen next year. This year the sister car in dark blue (10691) might have been the most valuable car on the field and not few were joking about an increase of the insurance policy over night after RM fetching 27.5 Million Dollar for theirs.

The competition Ferrari Class span the history from the early 1950s to the late world Sportscar championship contender, the 512 S. The two earliest cars were from the 212 series, the class winning 212 Export Touring Barchetta (0136E) and the 212 MM Vignale Berlinetta (0070M), first seen after its restoration to original specification. The 250 series was represented by two 250 MM (0352MM and 0344MM) in their original colours, the Carrera Panamericana livery on one side and a very elegant dark blue on the other. The Read brothers brought two of their racing Ferrari to Pebble with a 250 LM (5909) and the 512 S (1012). But Ferrari did not just race 12 cylinder cars as seen by the gorgeous Dino 196 SP Fantuzzi Spider (0806).

Other single marque classes included Lincoln, the featured marque of this year’s concours with no less than 4 separate classes for V8 and V12 models from the 1920s and 1930s, the Zephyr and Continental class and special coachwork of the post war era. Outstanding from the more conservative design of some of the earlier models was the bright orange 1955 Indianapolis Boano Coupe presented by last year’s Best of Show winners Paul & Judy Andrews. This futuristic looking Study by Boano in Torino was always surrounded by many spectators and will be one of the star lots of the forthcoming New York sale of RM Auctions later this year.

Orange seemed to be the colour of this year’s Pebble Beach Concours as two more cars featured this extroverted exterior in the Vanvooren class featuring the work of the French coachbuilder. Vanvooren was well known for their formal elegant lines without the extravagance of other French designers like Saoutchik or Figoni&Falaschi so it is even more astonishing that some of the first owners ordered them in bright orange. Vanvooren had the revolutionary idea of fitting the wooden frame of the body over silent blocks with the chassis to eliminate noise and cracks due to the twisting ladder-frame giving the coachbuilder more possibilities in the design. Vanvooren was also closely linked with Hispano-Suiza as their premises were nearby and about one third of the Hispano-Suiza production was bodied by them so it is not a surprise that four Hispano-Suiza J12 were displayed at the ocean front. At the beginning of the concours these were considered as serious contenders for the Best of Show Award and so a class win in this category was a first hurdle to be taken, finally the J12 Cabriolet of Sir Michael Kadoorie won its class over the other J12, a wonderful Delage and two Bentleys to become one of the Best of Show Nominees.

After a long winners ceremony with prize giving in all the 30 classes and a special appearance of no less than 27 Alfa Romeo 8C staring their 8C tour the following day the time for the presentation of the overall winner has come. Every year one is walking over the lawn and looking for potential winners and there were certainly years were a favourite was more obvious than this year. Although the quality on the field was again very high there was not one car that shined out so everyone had his own favourite. The nominees included the 1932 Lincoln KB Murphy Roadster of John & Heather Mozart, the already mentioned Hispano-Suiza from Kadoorie and a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Van den Plas Belgium Torpedo from Dr.Terry Bramall but the car that entered the ramp under the fireworks and rain of confetti was the 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria.

Entered by Joseph & Margie Cassini this was their second Best of Show award after winning in 2004 with a Horch Special Roadster, once more the BoS was restored by the restoration department of RM making this a very successful weekend for Rob Myers and his team beside the record result of their two days auction.

Just after announcement of the BoS the discussions started (as almost every year) about the definition of elegance and whether this is a deserved winner or not. When looking at the Packard with its long bonnet, the teardrop fenders and the two rear- mounted spare wheels the lines are certainly very clean and elegant, especially when comparing to some other American designs of this era. Maybe the cars lacks some extravagance compared to the French design of the previous winners, a point that is underlined by the very subtle colour combination of a dark olive/green with tan interior in contrast to the bright grey/dark red lizard skin of its predecessor or even more so to the Voisin that won in 2011. But this leads to a more academic discussion about American/European design as this car might not be as exciting as the Voisin but certainly more elegant so it is a question of personal taste what one prefers, at the end of the day it looked great at the ocean front and the foggy background made it stand out.

The fog also leads to the only real downside of this day in August. Whereas the weather was surprisingly very sunny the days before the Concours Sunday saw the typical misty morning in the bay area. Unfortunately the sun did not come out but for an hour so the fog was not burnt away and the day ended just as it began. Furthermore the Concours became that big both in numbers of cars and spectators that it is difficult to see and enjoy every car on the lawn the way it deserves. Especially when used to the smaller concours in Europe like the Villa d´Este or the Windsor / St. James event one might be overwhelmed by the impressions on the 18th hole of the prestigious Pebble Beach golf course but fortunately the old bias of all the over-restored cars and Trailer Queens is superseded especially to the more and more popular preserved classes.

The next year’s concours will be again on the third Sunday in August, so safe the date of the 17.08.2014 when the collector car world will have its centre in Monterey again.

Report & Images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de