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Pebble Beach, 21st of August, 2016

It is Sunday evening and the Monterey Car Week is officially over...

After a long and exhausting week the final curtain fell in front of the Pebble Beach Lodge when the long awaited Best of Show winner was announced. For the 66th time both visitors and entrants champed at the bit on a long day starting early in the morning before dawn. Well before the opening of the car gate at 6 am many people were waiting at the dawn patrol to see the fleet of cars coming onto the lawn. Long before the show officially opens to the public the owners, curators and mechanics lay hand on the classics for the last time before the international judges come to examine the work of hundreds or even thousands of hours of work adding into a final presentation on the sacred lawn of the most prestigious concours in the world.

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Besides the usual classes for European and American coach built cars, marques as Rolls Royce, Duesenberg and Ferrari several special classes drew many extremely interesting cars to Pebble again. The quality of the event could also be seen at the sheer amount of top cars in the different classes. A comparison with the second biggest concours in Amelia Island could be seen in the Ford GT40 class. After Amelia celebrated the GT40 on its 50th anniversary recently and although the set-up back then was already spectacular this day’s line-up at the Pacific coast was no less than mind blowing. About every major race winning GT40 was presented including the full podium of the first victory at La Sarthe as well as the following winners with the MKIV and the Gulf livered MKI, both Jacky Ickx and Dan Gurney were present as well.

Also very sportive in their heritage is the centenary of BMW that was celebrated throughout the week in Laguna Seca and finally in Pebble Beach as well. As released to the press earlier the most recent restoration of the original 507 of Elvis Presley made its debut in Pebble along with the first and the last of the famous Art Cars. The race history started at BMW basically with the 328 that was the first car from the Munich manufacturer to claim international reputation by winning classes and even overall victories in the most important races. Although not officially one of the “normal” Mille Miglias the 328 shone at the 1940 edition of the Grand Premio de la Mille Miglia with a triumph of the Touring bodied 2-litre racers. Both the winning Coupé and the highly original Bügelfalte were shown on the lawn today.

But BMW was not the only featured marque. Most likely Pebble Beach today saw the most important and complete collection of Delahaye in modern times. Delahayes are always a great sighting at the international concours but to see that many examples mainly bodied by Figoni & Falaschi but also by the featured coachbuilder Chapron was just another highlight in the long history.

Looking over the field the quality of the cars is second to none and although the entry tickets were extremely expensive with 325$ in advance of 375$ at the gate the lawn was packed with visitors from all over the world as could be heard by a lot of different languages.

As usual the award show area was laid out with towels early in the morning to get the best spot for the parade starting at 1:30 pm. In about 3 hours the class awards, special awards and finally the Best of Show are given to the proud owners or curators of the cars. At the end the nominees for the top award are lined up in front of the ramp, this year a Delahaye 165 Figoni & Falaschi of the late Robert Lee Collection, a Stutz DV-32 LeBaron Convertible Victoria of multiple winner Joseph & Margie Cassini as well as a Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet entered by Richard Mattei.

At the end it was the elegant Lancia that entered the podium under the fireworks and confetti rain to the delight of his overwhelmed owner.

Having experience in the American Concours scene one might have noticed that the big show end as fast as they start. With the BoS winner still on the ramp the first cars were lined up at the gate to get out as fast as possible and on the nearby trailer and transporter parking the next hours have been extremely busy. With the last cars still on the lawn the deconstruction of the tents and decoration sets in to give the green back to the golf players in the next week when the field quiets down for another year until the 67th edition of the Monterey Car Week.

The last event of the week was the second day of the Gooding & Company sale, the official auction of the concours. After an extremely successful first day the Sunday evening had to pay tribute to the long and exhausting day and week. Unlike in previous auctions at Gooding the tent was not completely filled and many seats became empty during the sale when the spectators left the field to the interested bidders. Although many interesting cars on sale including the Alfa Romeo 8C Monza and the Bugatti T55 the atmosphere remained muffled despite the best efforts of auctioneer Charlie Ross.

Finally the Alfa Romeo was sold on the block and the Bugatti changed hands in a deal with the auction still going on. A lot of question raised before Monterey whether the market could take all these expensive cars of whether we will see a decline of the market. Some dealers mentioned that there was some sort of waiting for the results in the previous months to give a signal to where the journey is going. Looking at the impressive sales of all auction houses one could certainly say that there is no crash in sight but the buyers become more educated and selective resulting in top prices for top cars like the Jaguar D-Type but less interest in “average” cars. All the auction houses came down in the sales rates compared to a few years ago but it seems logical that cars that are brokered by several dealers throughout the year not necessarily need to find a new home on a single evening, sales rates of 90-95% remain unachievable unless the sale is filled with no reserve offers.

In the next days we will have more images to follow from all over the week, for now we finalize our daily reports with today photos from the lawn and Gooding.

This is the first set.

Images ... Peter Singhof

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