While the Alfa Romeo brand may be struggling to gain traction with American car buyers, the judges at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance had no problem deciding what was best in show at the 68th annual running of what is widely considered the world’s premier classic car show. Honors went to a 1938 Alfa 8C 2900B owned by David Sydorick, of Beverly Hills.
But if you’re measuring success in dollars, the weekend’s real winner was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO which was gaveled off for a record $48 million at one of the many auctions that took place over the long weekend on the Monterey Peninsula. It blew past all estimates and handily surpassed the winning bid for an Aston Martin DB5 used in the 007 adventure Goldeneye.
While the emphasis during the extended weekend was on classic cars, the past had to make room for the future on at least a few occasions. An assortment of automakers, including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, used the Pebble Beach Concours as background to reveal their latest concept and production models, with a big emphasis on electric drive technology.
What began as a modest car show meant to raise money for local charity has mushroomed into a massive, week-long extravaganza, with an assortment of concours-style events, each focusing on different niches. At the Quail Lodge, for example, the focus is classic performance and racing machines. Concorso Italiano, as its name suggests, spotlights well-known brands like Ferrari and Maserati, as well as some less well-known names like Zagato. At the Laguna Seca Raceway, meanwhile, fans get to watch race cars new and old come back to life during three days of competition.
(Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow offers signpost to future designs. Click Here for the story.)
But, even after 68 years, it’s the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that dominates the weekend, with some of the world’s most elegant and exotic classics rolling onto the 19th green alongside Monterey Bay. Taking home any award is a big win for a collector, but a best-in-show is a guarantee of raising your personal profile – and the value of your winning entry.
Long-time collector Sydorick suggested that he “broke the rules” by restoring and then showing his Touring-Bodied Alfa 8C. “It is a piece of automotive architecture mounted on aa Grand Prix chassis that has technology that was top of the line for pre-war cars,” he said, after celebrating his victory. “It’s beautiful from top to bottom.”
For her part, Concours Chair Sandra Button said the 8C “has all that one would wish for in a car – speed, style and, frankly, sex appeal. The Touring styling is simply magical and, to top it off, it makes all the right noises.”
There was plenty of noise at the RM Sotheby’s auction tent, just a short jaunt from the 19th green, as racing legend Derek Bell drove the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO on stage. It was one of just 36 built and not only has a distinctive pedigree on track but is part of a series eagerly sought by collectors.
(Click Here for more about Audi’s move to claim fastest EV title with debut of PB 18 e-tron.)
That was, quite literally, hammered home as the bidding began at a dizzying $35 million, quickly rising from there. Three bidders kept the tally going up and up, the gavel finally coming down at $48,405,000 – including fees. That was well above the seemingly ambitious target of $45 million experts predicted two months ago.
Classic Car Week traditionally lures some of the world’s most affluent collectors and aficionados to the Monterey Peninsula. But there are also plenty of automotive media on hand, and for good reason. Automakers, desperate to find alternatives to the traditional car show, increasingly have come to use Pebble Beach as a place to launch new concepts and production models. And this year wasn’t an exception.
A number of the concepts took a retro approach. Both the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow and Infiniti Prototype 10 featuring bodies that harkened back to golden age racers. But, under the skin, both were decidedly modern, featuring electric drivetrains like those they plan to put into production in the not-too-distant future.
“Over 80 years ago, the historic Silver Arrows demonstrated that Mercedes-Benz was a pioneer when it came to speed, thanks, among other things, to their streamlined shape,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. “The EQ Silver Arrow show car draws on that legacy. Intended for acceleration and driving pleasure, it embodies progressive luxury and provides an insight into the future of our design.”
(Infiniti goes back to the future with Prototype 10 EV concept. Click Here for the story.)
Today’s show cars very well could come back to the 19th green – or perhaps go across the auction block – sometime in the future.