Panama hats, a slight ocean breeze and 200 of the finest classic cars the world had to offer.

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Welcome to Pebble Beach! The annual climax to an array of events which are known as the #MontereyCarWeek, or amongst car enthusiast as the craziest car week on the planet…

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“With the famous Concours d´Elegance of Pebble Beach the Monterey car week finally came to an end. 8 days after starting with the pre-reunion races at Laguna Seca the last car over the ramp in front of the lodge officially ended the madness on the peninsula attracting thousands of people from all over the world to show and watch cars of all ages on countless events.”, summarizes Peter Singhof one of the key photographers if it comes to classic cars .

A week ago today this insanely mind blowing Concours was held in Pebble Beach and I am still trying to comprehend all of the impressions collected during the #MontereyCarWeek!

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Who hasn’t experienced the week and, as the cherry of the cake, the worlds greatest Concours, is know one to believe any of what the media, car collectors and enthusiasts say – I can now finally say, they aren’t exxagerating, they are underrating, and who would have actually believed that?! 

Since I am a child, always fabeling cars, I have been dreaming of “one day” experiencing this mysterious, very special, very crazy week and finally this dream has come true. When I received a phone call from BMW a while ago and they invited me exclusively to their world premiere of the most beautiful roadster yet, their new BMW Z4, I was excited and felt honored to be apart of it. Ever since the concept reveal same time last year I have been dreaming to finally see the production car and that was about to happen, seeing it even before most of Europe! What I didn’t know right in that minute, which was being brought to me within the next minutes, was that the reveal and world premiere was to be conducted in Pebble Beach, DURING the #MontereyCarWeek – WOW!

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Firstly, this is rather exclusive and super special for a serial car to be revealed at Pebble Beach, as usually only Concept Cars are allowed to be shown, and secondly its simply one of the most beautiful settings for a car to really pop out, and of course its during one of the craziest, most important and defining weeks within the car year. I am in, all in and since couldn’t wait to experience the BMW Z4 in what must be the strongest car enthusiast atmosphere in existence.

Pebble, The Quail, Laguna Seca, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, Bonhams… here I come! 

Now, back to the climax of the #MontereyCarWeek, the worlds greatest Concours: Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach.

I mean, having been millions of times to the European Concours’ such as Villa d’Este, Masterpieces, Hampton Court Palace, Concours d’Elegance Suisse and so on, over the past decade, you think you have an idea and set your standards high.

Since it began in 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours has been the top-ranked car collector competition in the world. It has evolved over time, from its initial focus on collector cars in the 1950s to emphasizing sports racing and eventually preservation techniques in the 1990s.

Right up front some of my favorites, which were surely the crowds favorites too and  having had a closer look at them it was more than deserved! 

Note: The following cars aren’t in any particular order, so no ranking involved!

So let’s start with a crowds favorite and outstanding masterpiece: The Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Figoni Fastback Coupé from 1948.

This car represents one of 26 surviving Grand Sports. The first owner was Mr Fayolle, known as the “Zipper King”, hence the faux zip on the front. After having been in storage since the 60s, it emerged a few years back and was undergoing a full restoration to original specs for Mr Robert Kudela from the Czech Republic.

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A real WOW-effect was caused by the Peugeot 402 Darl’mat ‘Special Sport’ from 1938 driven by its owner Mr. Hyman and his daughter Brooke Hyman. Envisioned by Emile Darl’mat and intended to boost Peugeot’s image. Key facts such as lightweight body, unique aerodynamic styling and sporting engine are what make this model as outstanding as it is!

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Next on the list for me is the Bugatti Type 57S Vanden Plas Sports Tourer from 1937. Well, firstly, let’s talk about the beautiful spec the car is presented in. A dark grey paired with a dark red interior, beautiful!

Although, it might not have the ornate bodywork of the more “typical” Best of Show contenders, but it is simply the definition of “elegance”. Having won best of class in J-2, post-war European, it clearly has convinced a lot of people. The lines are perfect, sitting low and long, great detailing, but some finish problems and a few bits here and there.

Its owner, Rob Kauffman from Charlotte, North Carolina, has returned it to original specification as good as he could.

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BEST of SHOW2018.

And of course, the now known car as “Best of Show” 2018, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta from 1937. It has been stuck in everyones minds since its first reveal on Thursday for the Tour d’Elegance and was standing out among the 199 competitors on the field.

This exact car, David and Ginny Sydorick’s car, has won several prizes in the past as such the “Most Elegant Closed Car” in Pebble Beach 2001. However, since it has been restored with the outstanding help of David Smith, to its original specs from 1938 Berlin Motor Show presentation.

This car not only wears arguably the most elegant Touring bodies of all time, but is also based on the most technologically advanced model of the time – as an engineer this is something which catches your mind straight away and therefore I had to choose this car as my favorite. Not only the engineering point of view but the personal story of David and Ginny as well as David Smith’s insights on the restoration leave one speechless and with the conclusion that the award was handed to the perfect car with the right people looking after it.

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Porsche 540 Sport Roadster, Pebble

The Porsche Type 540 Sport Roadster; Credit: Bloomberg

Surprisingly, especially as a German, there weren’t many Porsche’s around, in fact only one! The only Porsche on the lawn this year was a 1952, one of the earliest Porsche’s ever built, Type 540 Sport Roadster owned by Jeanie and Bob Ingram.

Their son, Cam, and a team of workers spent more than 4,000 hours restoring the car at his North Carolina shop, Road Scholars, which had produced two winning cars in previous years. Of course, it didn’t put as German’s and won third in class!

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One thing I can highly recommend, which has been recommended to me on various occasions, is to do “Dawn Petrol” – I know, I was as confused at first as you are, but it’s totally worth it. Basically it is recommended to be there before Dawn, before the light kicks in and most importantly BEFORE all the crowds arrive and no car is to be seen. Another “side benefit” is, you get to see most of the cars in motion (again if you visited the Tour on Thursday) as they are being driven onto the field and placed accordingly to their groups (judging groups, more on that later). A magical experience, one to remember and certainly am emotional engaging one – highly recommended!

First favorites are being chosen, whether its the sound, the unique shape, the brand or simply the engagement of the crowd… everyone starts to pick their cherries which they will sprint to once the last car has entered. Try to gain the million dollar shot, or just a nice memory for uncles and aunts.

You got to remember, it’s not only 200 cars, more than 20.000 people descend on the peninsula. Although the morning seems to be starting early, around 7am for everyone, you want to be there earliER, facing the amid fog and cool temperatures. As the day heats up, spectators stroll the lawn drinking tea and Champagne while judges wind their way through the crowds and make their evaluations. The judges are the heart of the Concours, most certainly making most of the entrants rather nervous and they hit the field from 8am on point. They have only around 15-20 minutes to evaluate each car in their groups,  each group consists of 5-10 precisely chosen classic cars. By no later than 11:45am are the results needed to be handed in, they meet in the “judge room”, where they are hiding until the Winners are announced in order to make sure nothing is revealed prior to the ceremony.

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Among the many judges, wearing their uniforms consisting of a dark blue blazer, light beige pants and a panama hat, there are many people showing up in fancy hats, colorful suits, and artful shoes.

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Thanks to Hannah Elliott from Bloomberg, as she provides us with a few numbers and figures surrounding the major car auctions, which are being held during the week.

This year, according to Hagerty results, preliminary sales totals reached $368 million—a 12 percent increase from last year. Two record sales dominated the 2018 Monterey auction week: The highest-ever auction price for a car went to the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for $48.4 million at RM Sotheby’s, while the most expensive American car sold at auction went to a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Roadster, which sold for $22 million at Gooding & Co.

All told, across three days and six auction houses, 1,341 vehicles sold with a median price of $95,200 (up $5,000 from a year earlier) and a sell-through rate of 61 percent (vs. 59 percent in 2017—a healthy change). While the total sales number is significantly more than last year, beating estimates of $342 million, it fell short of 2014’s high-water mark of $428 million.

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Best of Show Winner 2018; Credit: Pebble Beach

As I was engaged shadowing a few of the judges around, I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to get my camera out and take the photos I would have wished for, but I think you get an idea. If not, here are some of the greatest shots out there, so go check them out:

Thanks to BMW for making this dream come true and letting me experience one of the most memorable weeks I have experienced in my life.

I am hooked and will most certainly return, Pebble, see you next year!

Yours, 

Laura Kukuk

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