What once had humble beginnings as a small social event has transformed into one of the top-tier collector shows worldwide
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a staple of Carmel-by-The-Sea, a seaside town in Monterey County. Each year in August, vintage car collectors flock to Carmel-by-The-Sea for their renowned auto show. Although this year's show has been canceled due to COVID-19, we’ve put together the history of the roots of the Concours.
The origins of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance can be traced back to the year 1950, where it was founded as an adjunct to the Pebble Beach Road Race. The poster advertising the event proudly promoted “Free Parking” and “Tickets 1.00.” The first show occurred on November 5, 1950. There were only 30 cars on exhibit and three separate classes: prewar cars, postwar cars, and MGs. Between the race and the show, the first year was a smashing success.
In 1952, the Concours moved from its location to the 18th green of what was then known as the Del Monte Lodge. This stunning and spacious lawn provided jaw-dropping views of Carmel Bay. With this move, the show grew in size, and cars were judged according to their cost and type.
Three years after the start of the show, the entries of cars exceeded 100. It took three years for Concours to be recognized as a stand-alone event instead of simply a precursor to the race. It was also in 1953 that the Concours hosted its very first special exhibition—two winners of the Carrera Panamericana. At the time, the Carrera Panamericana was deemed to be the most dangerous race in the world. It consisted of a border-to-border sedan and sports car racing affair that took place on the Pan-American Highway in Mexico.
Another pivotal moment of the Concours happened in 1955 when Phil Hill won Best of Show with his 1931 Pierce-Arrow 41 LeBaron Convertible Town Cabriolet. With this victory, he claimed the first win for the prewar car he had restored with his brother. As if that wasn’t enough, Phil also won the Pebble Beach Road Race the very next day.
Since then, the Concours d’Elegance has become one of the most highly-admired car shows in the world. With its rolling ocean backdrop, car collectors from around the world anticipate this event.
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