Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Reflections on Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

  • Print

After four days on the Monterey Peninsula of rushing from automotive event to event, Sunday, the day of the Concours d'Elegance, is almost relaxing. Mind you, that's if you think that getting up at four in the morning is relaxing.

The gates actually open to the general public at 10 in the morning, but insiders know that the most fun can be had as the first stirrings of dawn lighten the omnipresent mists of early morning. This is when the cars are unloaded from the temporary refuge of their transporters, then fired up and moved to the lawn behind the Delmonte Lodge.

A small crowd eagerly awaits this passage off cars through the gates where their handlers sign in and then proceed on to be marshalled into their specific division and class. The great thing about this is that, from about 5:30 to a little after 8 a.m., every car passes by and they can all be seen in motion with drivers and owners in attendance. Many are dressed to match the period of their cars, and it's a very intimate moment between onlookers and the cars themselves.

Later in the day, when crowds of 50,000 or more surround the 300 or so automobiles, the appreciation of each car is much harder. Mind you, it's still enjoyable, but it's as much about the crowd's reaction as it is about the cars themselves.

This year, the selection of cars was, as usual, magnificent. Cars of the Raj were one of the features. A number of purpose-built Rolls-Royces from India were lined up at the water's edge. These cars were built for the aristocracy of India in the Teens, Twenties and Thirties, and range from quiet elegance to ostentatious displays of wealth and power.

The most ostentatious car on the lawn was a 1910 Brooke, a marque from England that was three times the cost of a comparable Rolls-Royce of the period. This particular car is built to resemble a swan and was the brainchild of an eccentric Scotsman who lived in Calcutta.

Rather than having a horn, the swan spewed boiling water from its beak to clear the riff-raff off the road. It also featured a silk interior, a keyboard to play its horn pipes and a telegraph like a ship's to instruct the driver to turn left or right, slow down or speed up and go home. Oh, and a handy item we should all have fitted on our cars -- brushes on the back of each tire would sweep elephant droppings from the tire tread.

The car was eventually forbidden to be used on the road by the Indian constabulary, perhaps on complaints from the scalded. It was then sold by the Scot to the Maharaja of Nabha.

Each year, I play a little game with myself to see if I can select the best in class and best in show. This year, I did get most, but I completely missed best in show, which went to a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 Sport with a French Saoutchik Torpedo body. As grand as that car was, I still leaned toward a beautiful French Delahaye as my pick.

If the absolute truth is told, my favourite car at Pebble Beach this year was not French, German or English but American. In fact, it was not just American but an American custom from the dawn of U.S. hot-rodding. It was a car built by Norman Timbs and Emil Diedt in 1948, and I'm sure it took its inspiration from the 1937 Auto Union Type C Streamliner speed record car.

It was a beautifully done sculpture of curves and perfect reflections and had the most amazingly perfect bodywork and paint I have ever seen. What impressed me the most was the length and perfect contours in which not a single flaw existed. I would like to meet the body workers and painters who performed such magic. Very impressive.

I believe it won its class and actually, if I had my druthers, I would love to have seen it take best in show. Boy, would that have ruffled some feathers.

My only criticism of Pebble Beach this year was the fact that the event is being taken over by the corporate world and this year that process appeared to be pretty much complete.

In places where classic-car dealers used to promote their wares -- which was a car show in itself -- now you walk past displays by Acura, Cadillac, Jaguar, Range Rover and even Hyundai. It had an automall feel to it, which, at Pebble Beach, is really unfortunate. The Lodge itself and homes bordering the event are all rented by corporations and open only to their invited guests.

It's a little sad to see that the hobby is being replaced by the slick touch of corporate event-planners. But, then again, Pebble is as much about money and its excesses as it is about the old-car hobby, so perhaps it's a perfect fit. It sure won't stop me from attending; I may just grumble a bit more.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2012 F10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google