The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is an automotive charitable event held each year on the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, considered the most prestigious event of its kind. A Concours d'Elegance (French, literally "a competition of elegance") is an event open to classic and vintage cars in which they are judged for originality, function, and presentation. Classes are commonly arranged by type, marque (manufacturer), coachbuilder, country of origin, or time period. Judges select first-, second-, and third-place finishers for each class in the event, and the judges confer the "Best of Show" award on one car from the group of first-place winners. In addition, a group of honorary judges-- individuals who have made significant contributions to the automotive industry or motorsports-- award a number of subjective awards to recognize standout vehicles regardless of class ribbons, as well as memorial awards created to honor specific automotive industry personages.
The competitive field
Prospective entrants must submit an application for each car, and the Concours field is selected from each year's pool of applicants. Many collectors spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing and restoring a car in hopes of being chosen. Once a car is accepted to the Concours, it cannot be entered in the show again, with one exception: if the featured marque is obscure, the Concours car selection committee can reach out to invite cars of varying restoration quality-- or cars that have previously been entered in the Concours-- in order to provide a healthy representation of the marque for exhibition.
Many of the competing cars are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more recently into the millions of dollars. For this reason, along with its remarkable setting and amenities, the Pebble Beach Concours is considered the premier concours in North America, and is the centerpiece of over 50 related events spanning over a week, including vintage racing cars running at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races conducted at nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and a handful of classic car auctions conducted by Christie's and others.
Due to the extreme cost of purchasing, restoring, and maintaining fine classic cars, the Pebble Beach Concours is sometimes perceived to be the realm of the very wealthy, or dedicated enthusiasts and those individuals and businesses that cater to their interests. To the repeat participants, their guests, and thousands of attendees, the Pebble Beach Concours is as much a social gathering as a special interest event. From classic Ferraris to historic Bentleys, the Concours assembles a stylish mix of historic automobiles alongside new vehicle presentations from car manufacturers, art exhibitions, auctions, charity raffles, and more.
The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance was founded in 1950 as an adjunct to the Pebble Beach Road Race, a race event sponsored by the Sports Car Club of America and conducted on a circuit of closed public roads. The 1950 and 1951 Concours were held on a practice tee and driving range adjacent to the Beach Club, a private club near the Del Monte Lodge (now known as "The Lodge at Pebble Beach"). Thirty cars were exhibited on November 4, 1950, and a smaller field of 23 on May 27, 1951. In 1952, the event was moved to the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, between the Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Pacific Ocean, overlooking Carmel Bay.
The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has continued since 1950 with one missed year: in 1960, the show was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. In addition, heavy rain at the event in 1963 and 1965 made the lawn area unusable, and so the cars were shown at the old start/finish line of the road race, near the horse stables now known as the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center.
In 2001, the event saw an introduction of a new category for unrestored original cars.
The 2005 event saw 227 cars lining the 18th green and hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links with 27 judged classes, with cars brought to Pebble Beach from 26 states and 15 countries (including the U.S.). The event describes itself as "Exhibiting prewar and postwar automobiles along with the latest in concept car designs, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the premiere concours in the world." 50 of the 227 cars in the field come from outside the U.S, representing Italy, England, France, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, Argentina, Holland, Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Germany, Mexico and Monaco. The total estimated cost of the vehicles spread across the 18th fairway at the 2005 event was US$300 million. The 2006 event had a field reduced to 175 cars. Organizers said the change was made to allow more room for spectators.
Each year's Pebble Beach Concours honors a featured marque (manufacturer), coachbuilder, or type. The 2006 event honored former French automotive manufacturers Delahaye and Voisin and Convertible Victorias.
The proceeds of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance have supported the United Way of Monterey County and the Pebble Beach Company Foundation for a combination of 52 years. It also supports a number other local and national organizations. The 2006 event raised over $1 million, and the Concours has given more than $10 million to charities through the years.
The Best of Show at the 2006 Pebble Beach, a 1931 Daimler Double-Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupe, owned by Robert M. Lee of Reno, Nevada
- The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance official website
- Pebble Beach Concours in Perspective — one view of why Pebble Beach is the most important Concours d'Elegance. Denise McCluggage. MSN autos.