Elegance exemplified at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
From contemporary automotive design masters such as Ian Callum and Marek Reichman, to the likes of Bugatti’s President Wolfgang Dürheimer, Derek Bell, and rock star-cum-classic car obsessive Nick Mason – you only have to look at the roster of influential names sitting on the various juries at Pebble Beach to understand why it’s the most prestigious concours competition on the planet.
Casting their expert eyes over the gleaming treasures lining the 18th fairway of the famous Pebble Beach golf course, they collectively highlight and celebrate not only the most elegant cars, but also those that sent ripples through the automotive world thanks to the creativity, ingenuity and tenacity of the personalities who created them.
Driven by disruption
The 1967 Gyro-X and Stephen and Kim Bruno’s 1966 Bosley Mark II Interstate Coupé, which claimed the second placed trophy in the ‘American Dream Cars of the 1960s’, are great examples. The curious yet impressive styling of the latter was devised not by a renowned designer or innovative engineer, but rather an ambitious Ohio-based horticulturalist who wanted the perfect car in which to traverse the then-new Interstate Highway System. Alas, he only managed to build this example, not that that stopped him from accumulating over 100k miles in it.
Best of the best
Pre-War cars have almost always reigned supreme at Pebble Beach, and there was to be no break in tradition at the 67th edition. Bruce R. McCaw’s 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Tourer with bodywork by Barker earned the ultimate accolade of ‘Best of Show’ – just one week after the completion of its restoration in New Jersey. In fact, the preceding Tour d’Elegance doubled as the car’s maiden shakedown. Needless to say, it finished without altercation.
In the winners’ circle, the eighth Mercedes-Benz to win the award fended off a sensationally beautiful 1957 Ferrari 315 S Scaglietti (which was, coincidentally, owned by McCaw’s brother John) and a goliath and particularly regal 1932 Packard 906 Twin Six Dietrich Convertible Victoria.
A stunning stable
There should be extra pats on the backs of the organisers for curating not only the best assembly of important Ferraris so far in this, the brand’s 70th year, but quite possibly in history. Four classes were dedicated to Il Cavallino Rampante, including ‘One-off Speciales’ and ‘Major Race Winners’. In the former, the fin- and chrome-laden 1956 250 GT Boano Cabriolet dripped with all the ambition and audaciousness of the Jet Age, while in the latter, the Le Mans-winning 166MM, 250 Testa Rossa and ex-N.A.R.T. 250 LM recalled the Prancing Horse’s dominance at the French endurance thriller in the 1950s and ’60s.
To witness so many rarely seen and precious Ferraris gathered in one place was truly magical. The roll call really was astonishing – from Jim Glickenhaus’s diminutive Dino Competizione and the spaceship-like 412 P to a smattering of 250 GTOs and the impossibly pretty 275 GTS/4 N.A.R.T. Spyder. All eyes will be on the Goodwood Revival and Ferrari 70th anniversary celebrations in Maranello to see if Pebble’s stable can be bettered.
Each to their own
Elsewhere, the countless pre-War machines of every discernable shape and style, provided a timely reminder of an era when designers and engineers were entirely unshackled in terms of creativity and innovation.
We particularly loved the 1930 Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting Sports, which was entered by Classic Driver dealer Gregor Fisken, and Sir Michael Kadoorie’s Elegance Award-winning 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Gangloff Coupé. It’s something we couldn’t quite say the same about the wild-looking 1966 Exner Bugatti Roadster by Ghia. However, the Bugatti 101 upon which the one-off is based isn’t the most exciting of cars to look at, so each to their own, we suppose. An honourable mention must also go to our friend Simone Bertolero, who will have been delighted to exhibit La Principessa across the pond and pick up some silverware at the same time.
A blast from the past
Rémi Dargegen sums up what was another fantastic Pebble Beach beautifully. “This year’s Pebble Beach was a blast, for numerous reasons – not least the stable of Ferraris assembled to celebrate the marque’s 70th anniversary. You’d be forgiven for thinking the concours is the same every year, but the organisers always find ways to make it feel different and, subsequently, amaze us. This year, for example, Ferrari Formula 1 cars from the 1970s were granted entry – these cars are not elegant, but they’re milestones in the history of both the brand and motorsport in general. It might be an old concours with a long history, but the organisers are open-minded and truly understand the scope of our passion.” Hear hear.
Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2017