The pirates with their VW camper at the free Concours d'Lemons
The two-engined two-wheeled 1979 Civic also on show at Concours d'Lemons
The one-off McLaren 720S commissioned by Michael Fuchs...
...plus its matching Rolls-Royce Dawn
A Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost on display in a public street in Monterey...
...and opposite was this pretty 1974 Porsche Carrera
It’s easy to think that Pebble Beach is a haunt of the rich and famous who own cars most of us could only dream of. And that’s true. A ticket for the Quail motorsport event is $600, and that’s after you’ve balloted for it. A ticket for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is $375.
And I’ve met plenty of millionaires here whose lives are bordering on the absurd.
Gary Wales, who has most recently restored a 1938 Bentley Speedster, and doesn’t know its value. “People offer me half a million [dollars] for it but I have no idea what it’s worth. It’s not for sale,” he says. Wales is a regular at Beaulieu in the UK, knows the owner and stays in Beaulieu’s Palace House when he visits.
Not your average Joes, then.
There are also plenty of exclusive events nestled in enormous villas in the hills. The Rolls-Royce house, for example, where customers and potential customers alike go to schmooze and party. And for many, it’s exactly that. Flitting between parties and showing off their fast cars.
There’s no disputing these events are elitist. But amid all of these exclusive gatherings is one pure joy: the largest footfall of sublime motors on the roads I have ever seen.
Car enthusiasts could come to the area during Monterey car week (of which Pebble Beach is part) and they would have a blast without attending a single pricey event. You could spot every car you’ve ever dreamed of on the roads, and more. This place is the stuff of dreams. And on every corner is a fellow car lover waiting to talk about the cars they’ve seen, show you the pictures they’ve taken, tell you where they’re headed next.
There’s also, shock horror, some free events. A notable one is the Concours d’Lemons, lauded as a collection of the most “oddball, mundane and truly awful of the automotive world”. That’s true but it also left most visitors grinning from ear to ear.
There were the pirates with their pirate-inspired Volkswagen camper, there was the two-engined, two-wheeled 1979 Honda Civic that could be driven either way and there were a couple with their white 1996 Volvo 850 who had some black stickers on the side so it resembled a cow. When I came along, the man got in his car and pressed something to create a ‘moo’ noise purely for my entertainment. Does it get much better than that?
If expensive metal is your thing, you won’t lose out, either. I think I have seen more Ferraris on the road this weekend than in my entire lifetime – and that includes a visit to the Maranello factory.
Pebble Beach will never be a cheap outing. But it’s the most special assortment of car events I’ve ever witnessed. If you get a chance, go.