2018 Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance: Just like the first time again...
So last year, we made our first visit to what is generally considered the greatest and most prestigious car show...ok, Concours D'Elegance, on the planet. Frankly, we haven't been to all the other events of the same type or scale, but honestly, based on what we know, we're quite willing to assume that it is.
Say "Pebble Beach" to a car fanatic and they will not respond with their golf handicap. Their eyes will light up followed by sounds of "oooos" and "ahhhs" and discussions of how one day they hope to have a chance to attend and spectate. Many are called but the chosen are few. Yes, it is exclusive for both entrant and spectator, but it's not just simply "behind the velvet rope." It's beyond that kind of description. No, the Pebble Beach experience during Car Week is not simply a display of cars, it is a cultural celebration of cars, and assorted rarities that also includes the people.
That said, I think we anticipated that that attending the same event this year might be a little "less special," maybe a little repetitive. This is no knock on the event, we've felt this way about plenty of the events and/or happenings we've attended over the years. We've been doing this "car thing" for a long time...it's understandable.
To add to this sensation, we probably got to the event a little too early, and we discovered that very few corporate coffee joints are opened at 4:30 AM and that nobody was going to be selling coffee on the grounds for a couple of hours. Yeah, yeah, we know, first world problems, we know. But if you're gonna have first world problems, well, it's Pebble Beach. So there we were on the lawn, in the dark, a little cranky and a little chilly. We were tired from an exhausting weekend schedule and very little sleep. We were mad at ourselves for getting there too early and we were both wondering if all of this was worth it. Besides, we'd already "done this" before.
Well, as we sat on a bench in the pitch black and chill, we began so see what had been generating a rustling noise. It wasn't the surf washing over the rocks just a few yards from us, it was sheet plastic blowing in the breeze. The minority of the entrants, those that don't drive onto the lawn, spend the night wrapped and taped in plastic sheeting, car covers or movers blankets. As the rising sun began to cast some soft light through the light fog, we began to make out the shapes of the cars, and no two were alike. The show had begun.
Luckily a cafe had opened in the meantime and we were able to get some coffee and we sat back down on that bench to wait some more. And then it happened. There was no announcement or very much noise or commotion. Pebble Beach began to blow our minds....again. It was just like the first time again. Plastic sheets and movers blankets started coming off. Scores of staff and golf carts appeared out of nowhere. The low rumblings of the smoothest idling machines on the planet started to settle in the air and then there was movement. Slowly and surely (nothing at Pebble Beach happens quickly) the lawn began to fill with spectators, photographers, judges and most importantly, the cars.
The first we saw were the Indy Cars. It was surreal to say the least. These were cars of legend. These were cars driven by titans and in history making races and you really only get to see them in museums and in coffee table books. While we discovered that there was finally enough light to begin taking thousands of pictures between us, the warm dim glow of ancient headlamps began to appear on a service road as some of the most breathtaking and rare Ferraris in existence began to idle on to the lawn and line up on their parking marks just inches from us.
"Is that a......"
That’s about all the dialogue either of us could muster to describe what we saw. All we could do was gawk at the next unicorn and hopefully remember to take the picture (or realistically 10 or 15). And they just kept coming. They were big and small and brass and chrome. Some were in their natural state, but most were restored and polished to an impossibly high standard. The engine noise on most was almost imperceptible and frankly these things glided more than they drove. The subtlety of their arrival gave way to a heaviness. After going our separate ways for a while to avoid taking the same pictures, we found each other again in the middle of the fairway. We had kind of a moment...a silent reckoning, an unspoken conversation. Pebble Beach had done it to us again. It was basically, for the second year running, the most spectacular automotive happening we'd ever experienced.
It was at this point, the pace of things began to normalize. After the initial shock and awe of things faded and we pretty much started to look around and really enjoy all of the sights and sounds of the event. We'd learned enough from last year to anticipate what to do and when and we proceeded walk the length of the lawn again, but this time to enjoy ourselves, get another cup of coffee, watch the judging and the people and the fashion and the spectacle. We made that stroll and then walked up to the Concept Lawn to see, in person, all of the newest and most hyped international automotive offerings that have been clogging social media since Goodwood!
Though a bit crowded, the concepts were, in most cases, just as amazing as they look on Instagram. Some of these vehicles recognizable lineages. Next years low production Lamborghini, after all, looks like well, a Lamborghini. The hot new Lexus looks like a Lexus. Others though, look like wheeled spacecraft, and some appear as if they came straight from a child's wildest dream. Among those on the more outrageous side were the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak in which Romain Dumas just shattered all Pikes Peak records (for electric and conventional drive trains) and the Mercedes Benz EQ Silver Arrow Concept. We'd argue that the Benz was so fantastical that it wasn't even initially or primarily recognizable as an automobile. If it hadn't been for the over-the-top styling and construction of the "wheels," you'd be forgiven for thinking that the thing was probably meant to hover and/or travel through space and time rather than on conventional tarmac. It was a tour-de-force of what-the-heck.
Casa Ferrari was also in effect in what is becoming a regular event during the weekend as Ferrari takes over the lodge next to the first tee. The center piece of the display was the 488 Pista Spider, debuted in North America the previous day. To compliment the new 488 Pista was front of Casa Ferrari was stunning line-up of 50 examples of past drop-top models, all Ferrari Classiche certified. Among them a 212 Export, 250 Monza, 335 S, 250 Testa Rossa, 412 S, no less than four 275 GTS4 NART Spiders, 250 California, F50, F60America, LaFerrari Aperta, to name a few. It was a museum quality display of the legendary heritage of the Prancing Horse.
After a few circuits of the Concept Lawn (and some more caffeine) we decided to take one last trip up and down the fairway to simply "take it all in." Sure, we wanted to make sure we didn't miss photographing anything, but the purpose was a little more than that for us. It was a way for us to acknowledge that we've begun to understand the whole thing. We learned and discovered a lot last year, but we really felt like fish out of water. This time was different. We were able to fully immerse ourselves in the experience and watch it happen. That last walk through the field was just plain fun. We did a lot of celebrity spotting and fashion watching. We got some selfies and harassed some (mostly willing) famous people into taking pictures with us. All in all, it was pretty awesome. It was the end of a perfect day, albeit one that started out a little less than ideal.
As we wrap this report up, we would like to thank the Organizers and Media folks and the Concours for hosting us again this year. We were and are thrilled grateful and humbled to be able to be part of this hallowed event again this year. We're not sure how next year could be a better event, but we're pretty sure they'll make sure it is. As always, we acknowledge that were probably better photographers that we are writers, so please take a look around the gallery below.