Precious stones on Pebble Beach for the annual Concours d’Elegance

The 66th edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance took place on the Pacific coast of California last weekend, where over 200 of the very best historic cars from around the world gathered under the hyper-critical eyes of the judges. Classic Driver paid a visit…

What makes a car elegant?

The Pebble Beach selection committee, headed by Sandra Button, assembled a typically diverse field of classics for this year’s Concours d’Elegance – but the final entry list was not without controversy. Dedicated classes for the Ford GT40 – which celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ford’s momentous 1-2-3 Le Mans victory in 1966 ­– and for two-man Indianapolis racers built between 1930 and 1937 called into question the meaning of the term ‘elegance’ in the event’s name. Their significance to automotive history was undisputed, however. After all, style is just one of countless aspects on which the participants are judged at Pebble Beach.

Master Giotto

One of the most interesting classes exhibited on the famous 18th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links comprised a staggering collection of 13 Bizzarrinis. They were assembled to celebrate the life of master Italian engineer and ‘father of the Ferrari 250 GTO’, Giotto Bizzarrini, and included rare roofless variants, the wild Manta concept and the dinky ‘home-brewed’ Macchinetta Berlinetta, which was originally sired as Giotto’s university thesis project. Unsurprisingly, BMW’s centenary was celebrated with a class dedicated to the illustrious Bavarian marque, featuring the oldest 3/15 PS Cabriolet DA2 from 1930, the recently restored BMW 507 that once belonged to Elvis Presley, and the Alexander Calder 3.0 CSL Art Car.

Classic Driver’s choice

Before the ‘Best of Show’ prize was eventually awarded to the stunning Pinin Farina-bodied Lancia Astura on Sunday afternoon, our candidate for the event’s prestigious top gong was the wonderful Bugatti T57S Gangloff Coupé from the Rare Wheels Collection in Windermere, Florida. The Type 57 was conceived by Ettore Bugatti’s youngest son, who tragically later died at the wheel of an example of the model in 1939. This car, which we thought was a prime candidate for ‘Best of Show’ owing to its fabulous unrestored condition, originally belonged to a young French doctor. Peter Mullin’s elegant Delage D8-120, designed by the brilliant French coachbuilder Henri Chapron, was also a worthy contender for the overall prize. 

Italian stallions

We were left slightly speechless at the sight of Lawrence Stroll’s Ferrari 330 P4 ­– the car in which Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini won the 1967 Monza 1,000kms and the only P4 to retain its original body, thus making it one of, if not the most desirable Ferrari on the planet. It was proudly exhibited alongside the ex-Fangio Ferrari 290 MM that RM Sotheby’s sold late last year for 28m US dollars, which was chaperoned by Classic Driver dealer Copley Motorcars on behalf of its new collector owner. Pebble Beach was also a chance to ogle the continuation Lister Knobbly Stirling Moss Edition, along with a host of debutants from other manufacturers making the most of the idyllic backdrop. 

A crowning moment

The Californian sunshine might have been conspicuous in its absence, but that didn’t dim the atmosphere at Pebble Beach one jot. There was a tangible sense of passion in the air, from visitors of all ages and participants alike. With a handful of motorsport legends on hand to shoot the breeze with fellow enthusiasts, cars that made your jaw physically drop and a utterly beautiful setting, Pebble Beach truly deserves its crown as the world’s foremost concours d’elegance. 

Photos: Drew Phillips for Classic Driver

All the news from this year’s Monterey and Pebble Beach events can be found in our regularly updated overview.