By Paul Santana
For the past 63 years, Pebble Beach Golf Links, located on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula in Pebble Beach, California, has been host to what has become known as the world’s premier celebration of collector cars – the Concours d’Elegance. Once a year along the famous 18th fairway, thousands of spectators gather to be in the presence of some of the world’s most collectable, and expensive, automobiles. This year, over 250 historic vehicles showed up from 36 states and 12 different countriesto compete for Best in Class, and ultimately, Best in Show honors.
This year’s top honor went to an immaculately restored 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria, owned by previous Concourse winners Joseph and Margie Cassini III. Having spent much of its life in Puerto Rico as a taxi, it was brought back to the United States in 1968. Ownership exchanged hands a few times before the Cassinis purchased the car in 2010, marking the beginning of a rigorous three-year, complete teardown restoration.
“Each owner wanted to restore it, but the task seemed too daunting,” Joseph Cassini said. More than 10,000 man-hours later, it has been restored to showroom condition, and is celebrating a best-in-show win. This marks the Cassinis’ second best-in-show win, and the first American-made car to win the ribbon in nearly 20 years.
Among the Pebble Beach crowd were famous celebrities such as car enthusiast Jay Leno and actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, along with representatives from nearly all the major auto manufacturers from around the world, all coming together to celebrate automotive history, as well as to provide a glimpse into our automotive future.On the putting green in front of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the “Concept Lawn” displayed 20concept and new production vehicles, many of which were making their world or North American debut.
Sandra Button, Chairman of this year’s Concours d’Elegance, wanted to celebrate the whole of automotive history.
“We’re committed to showcasing the very best of the automotive world, past and present.”
By gathering examples of future automotive design, together with exquisite examples of automotive past, the Concourse d’Elegance had something to offer every automotive enthusiast. While this concept of mixing the past with the future is nothing new for the show, (they’ve been doing it since the early ‘90s), this year featured some breathtaking new models and concepts that will hopefully be making their way into dealer showrooms soon.
Acura NSX Concept:Marking Honda motor company’s return to the sports car market, the next generation Acura NSX has been “teased” at several recent shows, but the Pebble Beach showing revealed to the public a glimpse at the direction in which Acura’s interior is heading.This new NSX will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected V6 engine, and will feature Acura’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD), putting traction to all four wheels. Its three-electric-motor hybrid system – one adding power to the V6 and two powering the front wheels –works in sync with a dual clutch transmission to provide varying torque levels to the wheels, enhancing cornering and acceleration performance. Acura plans to release the Ohio-built NSX in 2015, with a possible topless roadster soon to follow.
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept:Cadillac has released some very performance-based designs in the past few years, and this year’s offering continues that trend. The Elmiraj, unveiled in a color GM calls Indian Blue, is a beautiful two-door four-seater, with a distinctive hard centerline crease from front to back. The stretched-out 121-inch wheelbase is reminiscent of the long Eldorado models of the past, and with an overall length of 205 inches, it’s one of the longest concept cars we’ve seen out of GM in years. Powered by an eight-cylinder, twin-turbocharged engine, the Elmiraj is a rear-wheel-drive luxury sport concept that Cadillac hopes will clearly represent where their brand is headed. The luxurious interior consists of high-quality wood accents mixed with state-of-the-art, three-dimensional displays and futuristic leather seats. Although its Pebble Beach world debut featured only two doors, GM Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn admits they have already looked at the possibility of offering a four-door as well.
Galpin Ford GTR1: Galpin Auto Sports drew upon its 60-plus years of automotive customizing experience to design and craft their first coachbuilt Ford GTR1 supercar. Based on Ford’s GT design, Galpin’s goal with the GTR1 was to show what the GT should have evolved into had Ford continued its production. The GTR1 is powered by a twin-turbo-charged 5.4L V8 engine, capable of producing an estimated 1,024 hp and 740 ft-lb of torque, propelling any driver brave enough to pilot it to a top speed in excess of 225 mph. The body is handcrafted in lightweight aluminum by expert metal crafters, and is approximately five inches wider than the original Ford GT. Rolling on 20” forged aluminum rims wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, the six piston brakes and full carbon rotors bring all 1,024 horses to an abrupt stop. Carbon fiber accents and high-output headlamps round out the sleek exterior, and inside you’ll find luxurious hand-stitched leather seats, headliner and panels, along with machined aluminum gauge accents and a high-quality sound system. Galpin plans on producing the American-built GTR1 in very limited numbers, so you better get in line now.
Lamborghini Veneno: With the recent production of the spaceship-like Aventador, Lamborghini continued to push the limits of futuristic supercar design with the amazingly aerodynamic Veneno. Making its North American debut at Pebble Beach, the Veneno (Italian for “venom”) resembles more of a four-wheel rocket ship than a car, and honestly, if it had wings, it probably could fly. The ultra lightweight, futuristic Veneno is powered by a 6.5 liter V12 mid-mounted engine, which produces 750 hp, and is linked to a 7-speed Independent Shifting Rod transmission. All of which translates into extremely fast gear changes (50 milliseconds), sending power to the pavement through its permanent all-wheel drive system. Zero to 62mph is accomplished in just 2.8 seconds, and tops out at around 220 mph. Lamborghini will only produce three cars to sell, all of which have already been spoken for.
Laraki Designs California Epitome:Continuing with the theme of Lamborghini’s futuristic supercar, the Laraki Epitome Concept may appear more at home in a science fiction film than cruising the streets of California. Designed and built in California, the heart of the Epitome is based on a heavily modified C6 corvette engine, producing 1,200 hp from the 7.0-liter quad-turbocharger power plant, boosted to over 1,750hp when it’s filled with 110-octane racing fuel. Laraki, better known for designing high-end yachts, has spent a great amount of time trying to make the Epitome look like nothing you’ve seen before. The body is all carbon fiber, with muscular and aggressive lines, unusual surface treatments, and its unique lean-forward stance adds to the Epitome’s menacing appearance. Comprised mainly of carbon fiber and aluminum, it’s extremely lightweight, and built to corner. This mid-front-engine hypercar is eye-catching to say the least, and with a $2 million price tag, it’s ultra-exclusive, and, unfortunately, just a bit beyond my reach.
This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance brought together thousands of auto enthusiasts, with one common trait – their love for the automobile. With $1.27 million raised for various charities this year, and a history of over $16 million raised since the first Concours in 1950, Pebble Beach is a prodigious venue that continues to draw large crowds year after year. The 2013 Concept Lawn consisted primarily of high-end performance vehicles, but also displayed a few practical examples of cars to come. As engineering techniques and material technology continue to evolve, hopefully auto designers will keep pushing the performance envelope, while paying homage to automotive past, and generatingmore inspiring designs for the future.