2011 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
This year - the event’s 61st running - the organisers celebrated 125 years of the automobile with a stunning selection of Mercedes, and an even more impressive line-up of 22 Ferrari 250 GTOs, the iconic car enjoying the happiest of 50th birthdays on the 18th Fairway at Pebble Beach.
It’s best to be an early riser on Sunday morning during Concours weekend. Visitors, barely able to put one foot in front of another in the misty gloom, start arriving on the famous lawn from 5.00 AM. The sight that was to greet them was worth the alarm call, as the row of cars on the shoreline (probably the best spot) was dramatic, to say the least.
Furthest away from the Lodge was the ‘Celebrating 125 Years of Mercedes-Benz’ cars, with entries varying in age from an 1886 Benz Patent Motor Wagen Replica to two, fabulous 300 SL Roadsters from 1963. In between were all the cars you’d expect from the great Stuttgart manufacturer: pre-WW1 GP cars, SSKs, ‘Gullwings’ and, in the separate ‘Mercedes-Benz Preservation’ class, Stephen. F. Brauer’s 1969 600 Presidential Landaulet.
A stunning effort by the organisers and event co-sponsors Mercedes-Benz. After the Mercedes display came possibly the greatest number of Ferrari 250 GTOs gathered in one place – over half the limited-series production and valued in total at, say, $400m+? Many of these had entered both Thursday’s Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, presented by Rolex, and Saturday’s all-Ferrari race at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
My favourite would either be one of the ’64-bodied cars or Eric Heerema’s pale-green ex-UDT Laystall car, the 1962 Goodwood Tourist Trophy winner.
Further back on the manicured grass were the rest of the Concours entries, with cars from the traditional, early ‘brass’ era competing with 1960s and '70s GTs from Aston and Ferrari, the inevitable plethora of 50th anniversary Jaguar E-types, ‘prohibition-era’ Americana from Stutz, Duesenberg, Lincoln and Cadillac, and the likely winner’s class, ‘European Classic 1932-1937’.
True to form, the overall winner was indeed a 1930s car with extravagant bodywork (and even more outlandish interior), Peter and Merle Mullin’s 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne.
Never before a winner at Pebble, arch-enthusiast Mullin will remember the 2011 event with pride. For most spectators, though, it was the line-up of GTOs that provided the abiding memory of this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
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