Jewelry-rattlers and journosaurs aren’t the reason to attend the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, or to fight off sleeporexia to be there by 4 a.m. for Dawn Patrol, when the field of entrants rolls on to the wet grass before any real light is shed on the possible winners and the also-rans.
It’s the sense of history. The Pebble Beach Concours is the ne plus ultra of classic car shows. It’s a statement of a car’s time, being, and place in history, not to mention its status and standing.
It’s a journey just to make it here. Pebble Beach weekend is a mix of unconquerable traffic, moving at no particular pace thanks to cranky machinery, and serious financial power. The investment in some of its finest cars runs easily into the tens of millions of dollars. Then there’s the intentionally opaque politics of which cars apply for and are accepted into the field, and which ones become the Best in Show. A perfect pedigree–the car’s and the owner’s–is by no means any guarantee of taking home anything.
For the rest of us, the Pebble Beach Concours is a refreshingly democratic exercise. It’s a great chance to see the super-wealthy doing things you’d never imagined–things like detailing cars and sitting in lawn chairs. One must practically resist the urge to tip them.
This year’s Concours led off with the pre-dawn arrival of Siatas, a squadron of pre-war Lincolns, a small but perfectly formed tribute of BMW 507s, and the stock and trade of Pebble Beach–Duesenbergs, Hispano-Suizas, Packards, Bentleys, Mercedes-Benzes, Aston Martins, and of course, Ferraris by the dozen. Their overwhelming presence makes the solo flyers–the Chrysler CG Imperial Phaeton, the Siata 208CS Balbo Berlinetta (the leader of the Dawn Patrol) and the 1967 Chevy L88 Corvette Convertible–stand out all the more, even if their chances of taking a Best In Show honor are as slight as their representation.
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