By: Ian Kilburn c/0 Collectible Wheels.
Everyone imagines that when you go to Pebble you have to have a $40m-dollar Ferrari or a fully restored 1930s Rolls-Royce with unique coachwork or a special invitation because you are the “who’s who” of the Collectors Car Market. But having done it now, I realise that’s not the case. It’s rather about interesting cars on show and the thousands of enthusiast that ship, fly, trailer or just simply drive the cars to Monetery.
We flew to San Francisco and hired your normal every day car and took a leisurely 120 mile drive down the coastal road Highway 1, stopping off at the world famous big wave surfing site Mavericks just outside Half Moon Bay. Waves can routinely crest at over 25 feet (8 m) and top out at over 60 feet (18 m).The break is caused by an unusually shaped underwater rock formation. From there we made our way down to the town of Santa Cruz which is dedicated to making the World’s best Mountain bikes and Skateboard’s. We arrived in Pacific Grove on the Monterey peninsula late on Tuesday afternoon 22 August 2018, checked into our hotel which was going to be home for the next five days of pure car heaven bliss.
Monterey Car Week is literally just that A Car Week with the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance being the Grand Finale on the Sunday Afternoon where the Truly Rich and Famous and the Most Beautiful cars in the World congress on the 18th fairway. The week is also about the different marques and car clubs from all around the world that converge at different venues during the week to show their cars and hold their own individual concourses, events ect.. And not to forget the Classic Car racing at Laguna Seca.
Early on the Thursday Morning we headed off down to Quail Lodge to get our tickets for the big day on the Sunday “we had purchased off the Pebble Beach website before we had left” and to collect a programme of events that would be taking place during the week that we were.
Monterey County is a county located in the state of California. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,771 square miles (9,770 km2), of which 3,281 square miles (8,500 km2) is land. Monterey Town was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. It was the only port of entry for taxable goods into California.
As I had done a bit of research on the events happening during the week I had a more or less understanding of which events I would like to go to or participate in. A bit of advice is to get a half idea or game plan in before attending the event as there is way too much happening every day with a number of events overlapping with others, not to mention the vast area that they cover during the week. The upside is that you get to see the whole of Monterey during the week and end up visiting off the beat places that in normal circumstance you would not bother with.
The first port of call on the Thursday morning was the PEBBLE BEACH TOUR D'ELEGANCE PRESENTED BY ROLEX 2018 in Carmel a mere 10 miles away. The Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex is an annual driving event that delights entrants and spectators alike. The traditional Tour traces portions of the original 17-Mile Drive, traverses nearby mountains and valleys, and pauses for a time in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea
We arrived minutes before the cars started arriving 295 participants in total with only three breakdowns experienced on their trip. The whole main road in Carmel was closed off to welcome the participants and their cars and was open to the public free of charge. You could walk amongst the cars once they had stopped and the drivers had got out. What got my immediate attention was the condition of the cars , every car looked like it was one of the main contenders for Sundays grand finale and in fact there were about ten vehicles that had been invited to Sundays show down with even a couple of them that had driven to Monterey from different parts of the US. The gathering was definitely one of the Most Outstanding Highlights of the Week. While we were meandering amongst the cars we met a couple of influential classic car enthusiast seen only on TV in South Africa and when they heard we were from good old sunny SA they had even more time for us. (Wayne Carini from Chasing Classics on Discovery Channel and Ryan Friedlinghaus from West Coast Customs both really down to earth guys that want to come and visit.)
As time was of the essence we decided to head up to Laguna Sec about 23 miles away in Del Rey Oaks which took us over an hour to get to as the Classic Car traffic on the road with people meandering and driving around sightseeing was hectic. Laguna Seca was hosting the ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION with a Special touch on Nissan Motorsport who were celebrating 50 years of motor sport success in the US.
15 race groupings competed during the course of the events over the week with cars ranging in age from a 1911 National Speedway Roadster in Group 1A to a 1995 Nissan 240SX in Group 7B.Thursday the day that we were there was practice day. Racing personalities make the event as well as the cars. Late American racing legend Dan Gurney was honoured in a touching tribute on the Showcase Stage on Saturday with Sir Jackie Stewart and Chris Cord sharing stories with Smith and Donald Osborne. One of Gurney’s original Lola cars was on display throughout the event in the first two pit bays.
A general admission ticket was all we needed as it offered access to the whole circuit including the pits and the paddock. I had been earlier in the year to the Goodwood Festival of Speed so I started wondering around the pits with mixed thoughts if the cars competing were going to be of the same calibre and heritage as Goodwood. The cars were just as spectacular with the same pedigree and history but with an American feel as these were the vehicles that had participated in the US over the past 50 years or so. Cars ranged from Formula 5000 cars from the 70’s to IMSA GTU, GTO and Trans AM cars to GT Production Cars to Formula 1 cars from the 60’s and 70’s.Every car competed in the exact livery it had back in the day as well as a story board in the pits with the present owners and past drivers and owners details. A magnificent motorsport history lesson.
Friday was going to be a busy day for us as we had planned a round trip route. First on the Agenda was to head to Monterrey Convention Centre where RM Sotheby’s were auctioning the finest collection and most expensive cars of the whole week on the Friday and Saturday evenings. Viewing of the cars cost $300 dollars and if you wanted to be part of the action and watch the auction you had to register as a bidder for $5000 dollars. We opted for the viewing and wandered around some of the most collectible and desirable cars on this planet. We stood right up with two notable cars that were going to be auctioned the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for a world record auction price of $48 million US Dollars (there is rumour that a private sale happened about a year ago where one of these beauties was sold for $70 million).The next one was the 1988 Mercedes Benz AMG CLK GTR which sold for $4, 5 million dollars.
We headed off to the Werks Reunion about 12 miles down the road just past Laguna Seca Raceway which was the largest gathering of Porsche’s at Monterey Car week. This free to enter event encourage owners of all Porsche’s to put their cars on display in designated areas depending on the models of the cars. Owners could also enter the Porsche Concourse and compete to win in more than 20 prize categories. These cars were also given a designated area to display the cars. There were possibly about 500 hundred vehicles on display all in absolute impeccable condition.
After spending a couple of hours in total Porsche bliss we were onto our next venture just down the road to the Legends of the Autobahn at the prestigious Nicklaus Club. This rich venue provides the growing event with continued room to expand—and it’s so close to Laguna Seca that you can hear the historic cars warming up! As this was a new event to Monterery car week a number of clubs had joined together to make it spectacular, namely BMW Car Club of America, the Mercedes Club of America, and the Audi Club of North America.
We got there just as prize giving was about to start which was absolutely great because it afforded us the opportunity to see all the winners collect their prizes up close as they drove their cars onto the stage and pose for photos. Some notable cars on display were a BMW E30 M3, a Genuine BMW 3,0CSL Batmobile, and a Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing.
The Saturday was all booked for a Truly Italian day with our first port of call been the Concorso Italiano the name stating exactly what the event was Everything Italian. Concorso Italiano’s unique format features more than a 1000 vehicles of Italian origin, and its atmosphere is on the vehicles on display, conversations between people who love and appreciate them, and elements of Italian style such as fashion, food, music and art – all of this on the beautiful grounds of the Black Horse Golf Club. Cars were displayed on three fairways and ranged from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia, Alfa, DeTomasa Pantera, Maserati and believe or not Moto Guzzi who also made cars in the past albeit it been a 3 wheeler.
I have never seen so many Lamborghini Countach or Ferrari Testarossa’s in one place and not to harp on the fact that you could eat off every single ones engines not to mention the paint or interiors. We stayed for Lunch before we headed back to Carmel by the Sea as the US Ferrari Owners Club were having a gathering in aid of charity which gave us a chance to view cars that had not been on display or entered into any of the Concourse events during the week, not to mention getting up close and chatting to the owners. The gathering finished late that evening with plenty of wine flowing
The big day and the reason why we had come to Monterey dawned upon us way to quickly the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance. The event is held on the 18th fairway of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course. The Sunday works in a total different format to your regular car concourse held throughout the world. The Concourse is by Invitation Only and every year they choose different themes to enter and attend. There were 21 different categories for cars to compete against each ranging from Antique all the way thought to 1960’s Indianapolis 500 Revolution.
Some of the notably first time features were OSCA, Post War Citroen, Tucker and Scarab there were also some special classes for Rollston Coach Work, Eisenhower Era Dream Convertibles and the Indianapolis 500 Revolution Entries from the 1960’s.There was also a class for the Latest Creations many of which had their World Debuts at Pebble Beach displayed on the Concept Lawn which was in fact the practice putting green.
For me to elaborate on each individual class and the history I would need to write a book so I would rather mention the experience and some notable stand out vehicles that we came across. On arrival at the main gate we were greeted with a massive display of Nissan and Datsun Cars going back to their first emergence in the USA way back when.
The first car that caught my attention was a 1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R. This Skyline was exclusive to the Japanese market and the C10 chassis was the first Skyline to ever wear the famous GT-R name plate. It was nicknamed ‘HAKOSUKA’ –which is a combination of the word Box “hako” and Skyline “suka” only 1113 were ever produced. Standing right next to the GT-R Skyline was a 1978 Subaru Brat which in effect was a 4x4 bakkie.
From here we walked down to the concept lawn where the latest of the latest futurist designed vehicles were on show , quite a couple had made their launch debuts during the week and were on the way to the production line. There was a clear mixture between Electronic Sports cars and some very fast and futuristic Super Cars on display. The latest design Porsche 911 Lightweight Singer was on display, next to it was a W Motors Fenyr Super Sport petrol eating designed car, the Electric EQ Silver Arrow Car by Mercedes Benz and a number of other special vehicles by Porsche, Audi, Ford, McLaren etc.….
We went past the Pebble Beach Pro shop and decided to step in side to buy a golf shirt at $300 dollars a shirt we did a roundabout turn and decided to head down to the 18th fairway where all the action and people were gathered. The cars were assembled in four rows down the whole length of 17th and 18th fairways taking into account that each fairway is about 450 meters long you can imagine the number of vehicles, owners, supporters and spectators. We had to keep an eye on the time as the Prize Giving was starting at 13H30 and we definitely wanted to get a place close to the podium to view all the class winners and the Overall Winner at the end of the day. We only managed two rows before we decided to head back to the main staging area to watch the proceedings. It was like a gigantic garden party with picnic chairs, blankets, picnic baskets and Champagne flowing everywhere you looked.
As there were 21 classes with a first, second and third in each class the proceeding were pretty drawn out as every vehicle that placed and won was called up onto the stage to receive their prizes. Finally the big moment had arrived.
There is no higher honour than landing Best of Show, and for 2018, the winning car was this 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta. This glorious fixed-roof coupe was originally revealed at the 1937 Milan auto show and later exhibited at the 1938 Berlin auto show. With an extremely tapered rear, this 8C represents a more aerodynamic take on the relatively ubiquitous 8C chassis, and it lacks running boards and has a laid-down grille. As awarded, the Alfa Romeo is specified to its 1938 Berlin show particulars, having been restored in the 1990s. The Alfa Romeo won its class before competing for Best of Show, and took home two other awards: Charles A. Chayne Trophy and J. B. and Dorothy Nethercutt Most Elegant Closed Car.
There were many contenders for Best of Show at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In the final circle, the winning 8C Alfa Romeo was joined by a 1929 Duesenberg J Murphy Town Limousine owned by the Lehrman Collection of Palm Beach, Florida and a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Figoni Fastback Coupé owned by Robert Kudela of Chropyne, Czech Republic which was my favourite to win as we had seen it a couple of days earlier on the 17 mile drive to Carmel by the Sea, an absolute exquisite car.
The Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach is widely considered to be the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. There are a number of other events such as Amelia Island in Florida, Villa d’Este in Lake Coma, Greenwich in Connecticut, Salon Prive’ in London however Pebble Beach definitely stand out at the top. It should be on every Car enthusiast bucket list, it offers something new, something old, something Classic, Something futuristic and something antique.