Pebble Beach Concours D' Elegance is always a feast for the eyes and inspiration for the imagination.
The world's most spectacular (and most painstakingly restored) Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, and Bugattis, along with futuristic concepts, and rare designs were paraded in the sunshine, out on the 18th hole of Pebble Beach's scenic golf course. The attention to detail in restoration, and the sheer abundance of old-world elegance and style make this one of the year's highlights for me.
Admittedly, this is a bit of a diversion from my usual obsession with vintage watches – although a welcome one –and so the Pebble Beach event deserves the spotlight here. Besides, there has always been a strong link between vintage cars and watches (not to mention lots of opportunities for watch-spotting during the event).
Both vintage cars and watches are all about passion for style, a nose for authenticity, and meticulous attention to the tiniest details – bordering on obsession, perhaps, but that's what we love about it.
Whether it's a rare hood ornament or an exquisitely crafted escapement wheel - both celebrate history, perfection, and both celebrate the marriage of engineering and art.
Rolex is a big part of the festivities. Each year timepieces are awarded at the end of the show to the winners of some of the events – most notably – the "Best of Show" engraved trophy comes with an engraved steel-and-gold Rolex Oster Perpetual DateJust 41. This year Sir Michael Kadoorie from Hong Kong took home the top prize for his 1931 Bentley 8 liter Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer.
The tickets to the event were exclusive (between $375 and $2,500), and it's always a top line event, attracting more attention than any other vintage car show.
From August 15th the scenic Pacific coastal town of Monterey became the temporary home to an army of collectors, enthusiasts, and journalists. None were disappointed. All were delighted to a smorgasbord of color, curves and gleaming chrome. It has been called the Baselworld of cars, and some of the most incredible old two and four-wheeled machines ever built made their appearance.
Not everything at the event was vintage. Lotus, for example, debuted their concept Evija, which is a $2.1 million electric hyper-car, able to achieve 1,972 horsepower and 200mph-plus top speeds. Concept cars sat in the sunlight alongside their predecessors, and it's hard to say which got more attention.
There was a sprinkling of drama too.
A 1939 Type 64 coupe, designed and driven by Porsche AG founder Ferdinand Porsche was the subject of an embarrassing Sotheby's blunder.
The $20 million silver coupe was originally commissioned by the Nazi regime. The car had been controversial and stood for years because of questions about provenance. When it came up for auction there was a flurry of excitement, but it soon turned sour. On Saturday night there was a hullaballoo of confusion surrounding the bidding on the car, which resulted in a no sale.
It was not clear if the blunder was caused by the auctioneer’s accent, or by an error on the display screen. Bidders were supposed to be bidding in increments of $1 million, but the screen showed them bidding in increments of $10 million – and it went downhill from there.
All of that was probably soon forgotten, though. Who can linger on the negative when a procession of four-wheeled beauties from yesteryears roll out in the California sunshine, heading up to Big Sur, engines roaring, fashionable hats fluttering in the wind, and leather gloves firmly on the steering wheels, and immaculate watches peeping out from under a sleeve?
The sheer number of the events at Monterey Car Week means it's near impossible to see it all. The six-day event includes the headline auctions, rallies, pleasure cruises and car races, including historic racing at the Laguna Seca racetrack.
It was a treat to see the passion, the patience, the pride and the painstaking love that the owners put into these cars, and it reminded me all over again why I love what I do.