On 17 August the immaculate fairways of Pebble Beach will again be turned over to the annual Concours d’Elegance. The finest cars from around the world will descend on this quiet stretch of Californian coast to extol mankind’s greatest automotive achievements.
This year promises to be the more remarkable for celebrating Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary, with special classes for its historic race-winners and one-offs. Ferrari North America will also be hosting its own 70th anniversary Concours on the Saturday, inviting the public to attend this milestone meet along the entire length of the legendary 18th hole.
The roots of the Concours d’Elegance reach back centuries, to when the well-heeled nobility of 17th-century Paris met to showcase their exquisitely crafted carriages and improbable wealth – in essence an upmarket “Cars and Coffee” for a generation in tights and wigs. And, as the extravagant horse-drawn carriage gave way to the no-less-extraordinary automobile, that need to share, compare and compete only increased.
When Pebble Beach began in 1950 it followed the format of the by now well-established Villa d’Este in Italy, but the main draw here would be a road race organised by the Sports Car Club of America, on the coattails of which the static concours would hang.
Unsurprisingly, this is where Ferrari found an early footing in US sports car circles, its unfamiliar but agile 166 MM and 212s showing huge promise in the early 1950s against heavier and more primitive US competition.
Ultimately, Ferrari would win four of the seven races before the event was stopped over safety concerns in 1956. With that, its place at the Pebble Beach table was secured, and over the years Ferrari has remained a vital part of this elite and exotic landscape.
Since the 1960s, the concours has steadily increased in size and prominence, and now sees pre and post-war cars exactingly judged on a challenging combination of condition and originality.
Winners are usually restored to a state superior to that in which they left the factory, immaculate in every respect, any renewed components correct to the precise date of manufacture. The standard demands, and unfailingly seems to exceed, perfection.
Ferraris from every decade have featured prominently over the years, earning admiration and accolades in race and road car classes, but it wasn’t until 2014 when a 1954 375 MM Scaglietti Coupé won the coveted Best of Show, the first overall win for a Ferrari and the first time a post-war car had won since 1968.
Attention to detail here is reliably uncompromising, the competition always fierce. An anecdote attached to Pebble Beach in the 1960s recalls how one female entrant put her tardy arrival at a pre-event party down to cleaning the underside of her car with Christian Dior nail polish remover.
So once again the stage is set, and however tough the competition in 2017, whatever the outcome, it is certain to be an unforgettable year for Ferrari and its millions of fans.