Pebble Beach Concours 2014: The best and the rest
Twenty Testa Rossas
And, first (forgive us, but they are stunning), more Ferraris! This time it’s the 250 Testa Rossa, which this year warranted an entire class to itself and brought us, among others, a stunning Scaglietti-styled model from 1958, and the 1959 TR59 by Fantuzzi… not to mention the famous 1957 car, chassis number 0704TR, renowned as being in authentic, unrestored condition and retaining its original engine, gearbox and bodywork. Of the 20 (yes, really) TRs in attendance (probably the most ever assembled in one place) it was indeed 0704TR which claimed the 'Best in Class' prize. The car was driven onto the winners' ramp by Classic Driver dealer Tom Hartley Jnr, the man responsible for selling the car (at a record sum) not long ago.
Drawing almost as much interest from the crowds were the Maseratis, again given a class to themselves – in celebration of 100 years of the marque. But then there was no shortage of the cars more usually associated with this world-famous concours, the cars from the 1920s and 30s, the “golden age of coachwork”, from Duesenberg and Cadillac, through Hispano-Suiza, Rolls Royce, and Bugatti, to Talbot-Lago, Delage, and Delahaye. The oldest vehicle on show, though, was a steam carriage from 1892, sent from the National Automobile Museum on Pebble Beach. Don't worry, it wasn't eligible for the concours.
Lesser-known names from the golden age
Among the lesser-known names were the all-American Ruxton and Cord. Jim Fasnacht, an authority on the Ruxton (he and his wife own seven examples), explains what makes the marque so special for him: “I was captured a long time ago by the car’s silhouette and its technology. The engineering of the gearbox was revolutionary – it enabled the car to be lower, shorter, lighter and more nimble than other front-wheel-drive cars of the era.” Fasnacht admits that his obsession is partly to do with preserving the history of a car where “so few were made it almost fell through the crack.” In recognition of his dedication, Fasnacht was presented with a Rolex timepiece during the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance lunch stop in Carmel.
Innovation from all eras
Another innovative, front-wheel-drive car was the Cord. Chris Cord, the grandson of Errett who long ran the company, was exhibiting an immaculate 1937 Cord 812 SC Cabriolet at Pebble this year. “The car is wonderful to drive,” he said, “it is such a modern car despite its age. We love coming to events like this and talking about our family’s automotive history. These cars are a remembrance of that time, and my grandfather, and give us an immense sense of pride.”
Streamlined Tatras were also celebrated with their own class. The flamboyant Czech classics are enjoying something of a comeback; they were also the focus of the Schloss Bensberg Classics last month.
While we all wind down from this year’s Concours, work has already started on next year’s event, due to take place on Sunday 16 August 2015.
Photos: © Drew Phillips for Classic Driver