It’s no news that the the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is among the most important collector car events in the world. Still, the line-up of automobiles curated by chairman Sandra Button and the selecting committee and displayed on the lawn of the Pebble Beach golf course last Sunday will be hard to beat for anyone – including the selecting committee for next year’s edition of Pebble Beach. Of course, the automotive anniversaries and special classes played a big part in the outstanding quality and variety of this year’s edition. And opening the upcoming centenary year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was certainly a very smart move.
So on early Sunday morning, we were overwhelmed by the sight of 27 remarkable Le Mans racers displayed on the manicured lawn in the trademark Pacific mist. In order to being able to compare these racing machines, the organizers had split up the cars in two classes – one for Le Mans competitors until the 1962 race and one until the 2020 edition. In the first class, two cars particularly caught our attention, the first one being the famous Bentley Speed Six from the American Fastwelve Collection. While there have been legal disputes about the autheticity of the car in the past, „Old Number One“ is now considered to be the exact car that the glorious ‘Bentley Boys’ Woolf Barnato and Henry Birkin drove to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1929, leading the pack of Bentley racers that came in second, third and fourth.
Equally exciting was the sight of the Bugatti Type 57G. Better known as the ‘Le Mans Tank’ for its rather less elegant, but highly aerodynamic bodywork, the Bugatti displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance comes from the collection of the late Dr Fred Simeone, it is one of only three cars built – and the only one still in existence. And there is of course a third Le Mans legend that we need to mention: The Ferrari 250 GTO owned by Weathertech founder David MacNeil, an outstanding car that faced some tough competition at this year’s event.
Speaking of Ferraris: The cars from Maranello are always well-represented at Pebble Beach, and this year was no exception. We already had spotted some of the Prancing Horses on Thursday during the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance – now seeing the mythical racers and grand tourers gather in front of the misty pacific was a sight to behold.
The most remarkable examples? We would have to name the Ferrari 250 LM, the 250 GT LWBZagato, the shark-nosed Ferrari 196SP Fantuzzy Spyder, the 340 America Vignale, and the 330 Pininfarina Speciale.
Besides the countless remarkable blue-chip collector cars competing for class and overall wins, this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance put the spotlight on the centennial of Lincoln, a brand rarely featured at concours events but highly interesting, the Talbot Lago Grand Sport and the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300. Another highlight of post-war Italian design and engineering was the special class of ‘Otto Vu’ Fiats and Siatas – an automotive species that is rightfully getting more and more attention.
As Swiss residents, we were excited to see a class for cars coachbuilt by Graber in Switzerland between 1925 and 1970. Mixing up the field of verified and elegant classics were automobiles with unorthodox propulsion – think coal gas or propellers – and the iconic 1932 Ford Hot Rod that were revisited in special classes.
Still, the most elegant car at this year’s Pebble Beach concours for us was displayed in the class for ‘Closed European Classics’: The Swiss owner has quite a fine selection of concours-worthy classics in his collection, but the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS he brought to Monterey this year was something else entirely. Coachbuilt by Figoni & Falaschi in the eccentric ‚Teardrop‘ shape, the car still looks absolutely stunning. Luckily, Classic Driver had the pleasure of photographing the car during an early morning séance on 17-Mile-Drive prior to the show.
In the end, the jurors must have had a hard time narrowing down the entrants to a short list of four cars: The aforementioned 1937 Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupé, a 1951 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Stabilimenti Farina Cabriolet owned by Merle and Peter Mullin, as well as two American classics - Sam and Emily Mann’s 1930 Duesenberg J Graber Cabriolet and a Duesenberg J Sports Torpedo coach built by Joseph Figoni in 1932 and owned by Lee R. Anderson Sr. It was this cars that in the end convinced the jury, rightfully claiming the title ‘Best of Show’ at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. A well-deserved win!
Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2022