Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

By Daniel Vaughan. The 69th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance continued its tradition of showcasing elegance and history, and this year was the centennial celebration of the Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links which first opened in February of 1919. Bentley Motors and Carrozzeria Zagato were also formed that same year, and in recognition, numerous examples from both these Paragons were showcased on the show field.

For spectators and automotive enthusiasts, the Pebble Beach Concours is the culmination of a week of events on the Monterey Peninsula, but for many entrants and restorers, it was the realization of years of work, preparation, and planning. Among the special features in 2019 were '100 Years of Coachbuilt Bentleys,' 'Carrozzeria Zagato,' 'The Type 59 Grand Prix Bugatti,' 'The E.R. Thomas Company,' and 'Ballot : Henry's Centennial Celebration.'

In 1919, the fastest racing cars in the world were arguably the straight-eight powered French Ballot racers. Founded in 1906 by Swiss engineer Ernest Henry, the early years were spent building engines. During World War I, they supplied aero engines to the French, British, and Russian air forces. In 1919, four Ballot race cars contested the Indianapolis 500 with one of the four examples resting in pole position. Rene Thomas had recorded the fastest time of 104.70 mph in the number 31 Ballot and Louis Wagner had qualified his number 34 Ballot with a time of 101.70 mph. Despite mechanical difficulties, the Ballot team finished fourth and eleventh. A year later, the Ballots returned led during most of the 500 miles, but nearing the end, mechanical issues slowed the pace resulting in a second-place finish. Numerous world records and victories solidified Ballots racing capabilities, including an overall victory at the first-ever Italian Grand Prix in 1921. The 2019 Pebble Beach Concours paid tribute to the accomplishments, technological marvels, and twin-cam engines of the Ballot marque by displacing three vehicles on the field.

E.R. Thomas's Model 35, powered by a four-cylinder engine developing 70 horsepower, was a last-minute entry in what would be the world's longest automobile event. The New York to Paris Race began on February 12th of 1908, in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, with 250,000 people in attendance at New York's Time Square for the start. The Thomas had been prepared in just three days with modifications that included a larger fuel tank, the addition of several spare tires, and the replacement of the fenders and running boards with rudimentary wooden planks that could be removed and used to help gain traction if and when the vehicle got stuck in mud. Only six vehicles from four countries accepted the 22,000-mile challenge, traveling some of the wildest stretches of uncharted lands. During the winter, they crossed the United States, something never previously accomplished by an automobile, traversed the island of Japan, and slogged across the whole of Europe. On July 30th of 1908, after 169 days of competition, the lone American entry claimed victory, nearly one month ahead of the other cars. The win increased the prestige of all American cars and helped establish the automobile as a reliable means of long-distance travel. The curated class of Thomas Flyer automobiles on display at Pebble Beach included several of the finest examples in existence, including the original 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the race.

The Bugatti Grand Prix vehicles were fast, revolutionary, unbeatable, aesthetically pleasing, and enjoyed a period of 10 years of unrivaled victories. The Type 35 Bugatti won many races in the 1920s, but by the 1930s, new opposition had risen from Italian and German teams. Ettore Bugatti responded with the Type 51, followed by the Type 59 for the 1933 Grand Prix season. It came with an increased wheelbase and a newly designed supercharged, double overhead-camshaft, plain-bearing, eight-cylinder, 2.8-liter engine - which was later increased to 3.3-liters for the 1934 season. It rested on all-new piano wire aluminum wheels and early examples had the wheel and drum brakes cast as a single piece. Later Type 59 wheels had the brake drum and wheel hub center slotted into the outer rim of the wheel via gear teeth. Although early racing success was elusive, a Type 59 driven by Rene Dreyfus won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1934. Only four examples were ever built, and all four examples were on display at Pebble Beach. These four cars have never been in the same location since they raced together in the 1930s, representing a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity.

The coachwork built by Carrozzeria Zagato followed form and function. Beyond just elegant and stunning, their lightweight construction resulted in numerous victories, including victories at the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. The aerodynamic designs were inspired by airplane fuselages of the period, coupled with light wooden construction and aluminum materials. Over the years, the designs morphed and evolved, but continued to retain the enduring aesthetic quality that garnered early admiration. Their grand turismo shapes have become some of the memorable Berlinetta designs of all time, clothing such legendary vehicles such as the Maserati A6G, Fiat 8V, Jaguar, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, AC, and Bristol. Since its inception, the carrozzeria has designed over 440 models in association with 44 automotive marques. To commemorate such a marvelous legacy is an impossible task, but the Concour's attempt was truly spectacular, with two dedicated classes - 'Zagato Centennial Prewar' and 'Zagato Centennial Postwar.' Included in the prewar class was the Maserati V4 powered by a 16-cylinder engine, accomplished by mounting two Tipo 26B inline-8 cylinder engines in a common crankcase with two crankshafts geared together. Other examples included the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 and 8C 2300 - including one of the earliest 8Cs produced and one of two cars raced at the 1931 Targa Florio. The postwar class included coachwork applied to Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati Abarth, Ace, Lancia, Bristol, and Aston Martin.

The celebration of Bentley at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours was the most in-depth, encompassing six dedicated classes. Separate classes were reserved for the 3-liter, 4.5-liter, 6.5-liter, and 8-liter Bentley, along with a class for the 'Bentley Centennial Derby' and 'Bentley Centennial Postwar.'

By the close of World War I, W.O. Bentley had developed the 3-liter motor and by 1920, he had his first working example of the engine. Bentley used Brooklands to set many records, and by the mid-1920s, had supplanted the then-dominant Bugatti winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans and causing Ettore Bugatti to call the Bentley, 'the fastest lorry in the world.' Much of that success was attributed to the first engine utilizing four valves in each cylinder, overhead camshafts, and dual ignition which provided more even burning of the fuel/air mixture. The new technology developed for the track was quickly implemented into their road-going custom cars.

The first W.O. Bentley customer car - and likely the oldest original 3 Liter Bentley in existence - was on display at the Pebble Beach Concours. The latest creation from Bentley, the Bentley EXP 100 GT, was also on display on the Concept Car lawn. The EXP 100 GT Concept is the company's vision for the future and was created to celebrate 100 years of Bentley innovation.

Although the focus is on the past, the Pebble Beach Concours looks to the future with a vast array of concept cars and limited edition models greeting enthusiasts as they enter the venue. Among the vehicles on display was the Karma SC1 Vision Concept which fully embraces electrification. Aviation influenced every aspect of the vehicle, from design to mechanical componentry, including its airplane-inspired cockpit. It is a statement-making styling exercise that pays homage to Karma's Californa home. The Genesis Mint Concept was designed for the city and tailored to meet the needs of a modern lifestyle. It uses lightweight textiles, cognac leather, mullion-free windows, and a high-density, battery-electric powertrain capable of 200 miles per full charge. The De Tomaso P72 was designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the brand and an homage to the original De Tomaso P70. It is based on the state-of-the-art all-carbon chassis from the Apollo IE and is the first all-carbon fiber production chassis of its kind. It will remain highly exclusive with only 72 examples to be produced.

Best of Show
Among the 216 classic cars from 17 countries and 31 states, one example stood out as the favorite, earning the coveted 'Best of Show' trophy. The honor was bestowed upon The Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie of Hong Kong for his 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer. 'The Centennial of Bentley may have played a role in this award,' said Kadoorie, 'but the 8 Litre is the ultimate W. O. Bentley–era automobile. This is the car that represents Bentley at its finest, and I have been very fortunate to have a car that has this elegance and finish, and that the Pebble Beach Concours feels is worthy.'

'This Bentley exudes strength and confidence, and that translates into elegance,' said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. 'Yes, this is a fast, strong, sturdy car, but it also has perfect proportions, a stunning stance, and a boldness that draws you to it. When you drive it, it does everything you ask of it.'

Other strong contenders for the award included Richard and Melanie Lundquist's 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni & Falaschi Teardrop Cabriolet; David F. MacNeil's 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Coupe; and The Keller Collection at The Pyramids' 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Erdmann & Rossi Special Cabriolet.

Pebble Beach Company Foundation
An important component of the Pebble Beach Concours is its contribution and support of local charities through the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the event's charitable partner. Over 80 nonprofit organizations are supported by the Foundation, and since the inception of the Pebble Beach Concours, it has raised over $27 million for area organizations in need, with more than $2 million raised in 2019.

Jay Leno, comedian, actor, producer, and host of Jay Leno's Garage, who led the charity drawing during the Concours Awards Ceremony, raised more than $100,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County by offering tours of his garage. He has now raised more than $800,000 for Concours charities.

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.