Achieving a Best of Show win at this event is almost like wishing for and then winning a lottery. It is that great a deal. It is overwhelming to most and to this year’s overall winner, it was extremely emotional. Judge Joseph Cassini and his lovely wife Margie and daughter Caroline were just ecstatic when they learned of their win. It is his second win at Pebble but the first in a number of years for an American car. His stunning, dark green, 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria was a wonderful sight for all eyes. Winning for the second time in nine years Cassini said upon winning, “That makes this win even more special. It’s nice to see that even the European judges found this car significant enough to win Best of Show.” “This win is emotional, says Judge Cassini, “This is the Olympics of car shows, and you would never think that you could win the Olympics twice.” But you need to realize that this win was even more special when you consider the stiff competition that was his runner ups: A 1932 Lincoln KB Murphy Roadster and a 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Vanvooren Coupe, both exquisite automobiles. The prerequisite for taking top honors means that the Judge Cassini’s car had to win its class before it could be considered for Best of Show. So the competition was very steep.
His was only part of the entire story this year. Featured marques included the great Simplex automobile, Lincoln, the roadsters from Indy, a celebration of 50 years of Lamborghini, 50 years of the Porsche 911, Vanvooren, the Parisian coach builder, Aston Martin, and the French motorcycles and of course the legendary Alfa Romeos. A special class was added this year for this show only: the four early Benz race cars of Prinz Heinrich. What this show has become is a showcase of the finest, rarest motor vehicles in existence. Show chairwoman, Sandra Button and her husband, Martin were able to cajole the owners of a group of priceless Alfa Romeo 8c cars from the early 1930’s to show their beauty at Pebble this year along with a special tour called The Tour of the Rockies, they would take a few days after the event concludes. Interestingly enough, most of the 8c owners had planned on attending the Concours before the tour was announced.
The fact that Sandra was able to invite the owners of the oldest known Duesenberg, a 1921 A Bender Coupe, to the show along with so many other outstanding car owners is what makes Pebble what it is today. Keep in mind that the Pebble Beach Concours, like all other great Concours, is a show by invitation only, with lots of rules that govern it and make it the most difficult car show to be invited to and participate in. You need some history or at least the car must have some serious provenance to be invited here. 248 cars from 36 states and 12 countries graced the 18th fairway of the famous Pebble Beach golf course this year and not one was less than perfect. A pure sight of 100% eye candy in the form of the art of the automobile. This is one of many reasons why Pebble Beach Concours has withstood the test of 63 years and continues to lead the world as the highest form of any car show in existence.
The show capped a week long celebration of the automobile. Rolex is the prime title sponsor for this show as well as the Quail and the racing at Laguna Seca. The leading watch maker devotes countless hours to so many events outside of just watches. Their participation and work for all events during this week is crucial and very satisfying for their brand image as well as their general reception by the public. This week would just not be the same without the name Rolex involved to the degree it is and we are all so thankful for all Rolex does to make this week the most special in the car world each and every year.
The cars began rolling onto the field before the sun was even close to rising and the steady stream of vehicles paraded from one end of the field to the other were directed by a slew of volunteers to their predestined places in their classes.
I want to tip my hat, if I may please for a moment, to the lady responsible for all the media that attend this event. Year in and year out Kandace Hawkins leads us from inception to ending, with little praise for all she does. Her hands are so full that she has a full staff working behind the scenes to enable us to get the best coverage from the time the credential doors open until the very end when many of us are able to photograph the Best of Show down by the water’s edge. She hardly gets noticed, but she runs the game and makes things happen for all of us. As only one member of the media clan, it is time someone made her name public with all the thanks for all she does for all of us. It could not happen without Kandace. “Thank you so much”.
Another unique feature of this show is the view into the future provided by the concept cars that grace the practice putting green several hundred feet above the actual 18th fairway. There we got a glimpse this year into the possibility and realities of the Acura NSX, the one off Aston Martin CC 100 Speedster (celebrating their 100 year), Bentley Continental GT LeMans dition, the BMW Gran Lusso Coupe created by legendary house of Pininfarina, the Hyundai concept HCD-14 Genesis, the Icono Vulcano a one off, the Epitome Concept by Laraki Design of California, the newest Spyker edition and even the Alfa Romeo Touring Superleggera Disco Volante. Several other makes were well featured including Lincoln, Porsche and Rolls Royce. The ropes surrounding the practice green were bulging as everyone leaned in as far as possible to get a view and a snapshot of many of these concepts.
At the 63rd Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, several auction houses work their gavels turning cars over from one owner to another with the exchanging of huge sums of money. Speaking of which, this week is not one for those who have short pockets. No sir. There are plenty of folks who love to just watch the auctions but in some cases it will cost them $100 just to get in, obtain an auction catalogue and then ogle. The general admission ticket to Pebble this year was up to $225 pre-sale and $275 the day of show. I can attest to the fact that the field was filled with spectators by 9 am. The show raised some $1,277,007 for charity alone! Being on the field by 6:00 am the number of media and others already there was staggering this year. Haggerty offered their customary hospitality tent with coffee and donuts for all and free hats for those wishing them.
Then of course, there is the huge building that celebrates the incredible work of so many talented artists of numerous mediums as part of the Automotive Fine Arts Society. A walk through is mandatory - not something you want to miss. The amazing imagination utilized by one artist after another can be seen in the depictions of our automobiles. All are for sale as well. And all are remarkably creative and beautifully finished in metal, wood, oils, water colors and other art forms.
One often wonders how these cars and bikes are judged. Interestingly enough, the program states that there is a total of 1,955 years of experience in the makeup of the judges here. With well over 50 judges their task is tremendous. First they look for originality and authenticity. Then the vehicles are looked at with an eye for elegance. Each car must start, and the owners must answer to any and all questions during the inspection and judging of each vehicle. Documentation is vital as well as provenance of the car itself. Some of these cars are one-of-a-kind, some are in a group consisting of only a handful left in existence, while others are cars that belonged to royalty from many parts of the world. The history of many of them could fill a book in themselves. The job of all these judges is quite daunting and therefore for those that are the chosen few out of the thousands of experts the world over, this is a high and most honored privilege.
Yes, Pebble Beach is just that - the greatest car show on earth and maybe even beyond as well, who knows. It is one of those events that is something everyone should experience if they are able to. Better come with comfortable shoes and an open mind and be able to take it all in in one day. A lot to accomplish for sure.