Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, World's Most Luxurious Car Show

1935 Packard classic car at Concours d'Elegance
©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved
  • 01 of 05

    Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the World's Top Classic Car Show

    Vintage Packard and vintage dress
    ©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved

    Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance: World's Top Classic Car Show

    Concours d'Elegance is a must-go for luxury travelers who love cars and the automotive culture. It is the crowning event of Monterey Car Week, which runs from August 15 to 21, 2017.  Concours d'Elegance happens on Sunday, August 20th, 2017.
    • Car Week is a whirlwind of vintage car exhibitions, auctions, races, new car debuts, and parties

    What Is Concours d'Elegance Like?

    Equal parts charity fundraiser, collectable car auction, and social event, Concours d'Elegance celebrates the rarest and most valuable classic cars. Its name means "a competition of elegance" in French.

    How Classic Cars Are Entered and Judged at Concours d'Elegance

    Concours d'Elegance's international gallery of rare cars must be invited to compete. Numerous competition categories include pre-WWI cars. (That's right, 1918.)

    In conferring their rankings, judges consider a car's engineering, style, history, and the authenticity of its restoration. A win boosts a car's prestige and value...and an owner's reputation.

    An overall Best of Show is awarded in the final round of judging. The pool is every category's first-place finishers.

    Where Concours d'Elegance Happens

    • Concours is held in the legendary golf destination of Pebble Beach, California. First held in 1950. The event takes place during the third week of August each year.

    It is held on the 18th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the top-rated golf courses in America. The club closes its course for Concours.

    Pebble Beach is on Northern California's Monterey Peninsula a two-plus hour drive south of San Francisco and four hours north of LA. Pebble Beach's closest airport, Carmel, is within a half hour.

    Next: who goes to Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (famous & not)

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Who Goes to Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and Why

    Car collector Jay Leno concours d'Elegance automotive show
    ©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved

    The Sort of Folks Who Go to Concours d'Elegance

    Nearly 15,000 guests attend Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. This is where classic car owners, collectors, restoration experts, and automotive buffs share their mutual passion.

    The wor​ld's top automobile brands entertain clients and media at the show, using the occasion to unveil new luxury vehicles and concept cars.  

    The event is not just fun; it gives back. Every year, Concours d'Elegance typically raises over a million dollars for charity. 

    Why People Love the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    Car lovers from across the globe attend to see what's new, what's old, and what's really special. Concours d'Elegance makes it easy for patrons to roam the grounds and talk to a car's owners (and often the car's restorers as well). The owners:
    • May be in period costume: Edwardians, flappers, jitterbuggers, Mad Men style
    • Love to talk about their cars
    • Tend to stand beside their cars like proud parents, hoping to be told how extraordinary their child is

    Concours d'Elegance is a vast, car-crazy lawn party on the scenic 18th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links. There's a buzz in the air and a feeling of camaraderie. What everyone has in common is a love of beautiful cars.

    What Kinds of Folks Come to Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    "The people who attend this event are the opinion leaders of luxury automotives," C.J. O'Donnell, Marketing Manager for Ford's Lincoln division, told me. "The world's biggest, most important buyers, sellers, and aficionados all attend this event."

    Car-loving celebrities like Jay Leno, Steve Carrell, Timothy Hutton, George Lucas, and Adam Carolla come to ogle the cars, too.

    Next: the astounding automobiles you'll see at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    The Incredible Cars at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    1931 Packard classic car at COncours d'Elegance
    ©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved

    What Kinds of Cars You Can See at Concours d’Elegance

    The cars that compete at Concours d'Elegance represent the best of the best classic cars. This also means they were the top luxury vehicles of their times.

    Each car competes against others in its class (as commonly defined by manufacturers), country of origin, and year of production. In 2012, 220 cars from 33 states and 15 countries competed at Concours d'Elegance.

    Concours d'Elegance his catnip to lovers of vintage autos. Fully restored cars from such luxury car makers as Bugatti, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche (and vintage Fords, too) compete for trophies.

    The Kind of Car that Wins Best of Show

    In 2016, a 1936 Lancia, a gleaming Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet,, was named Best of Show. 
    Some other recent past winners:
    • 2015: an Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet
    • 2014: a 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe
    • 2013: a 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria
    • 2012: a Mercede-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo
    * 2011: a Voisin C-25 Aerodyne
    • 2010: a 1933 Delage D8 S deVillars Roadster

    Next: parties, races, auctions, & more fun at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Festivities, Auctions, & Races during Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    1914 Merceded Benz at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
    ©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved

    Events, Auctions, & Races During Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    In addition to the Concours d'Elegance competition, the weekend is a social whirl of parties, auctions, networking, races, and new car unveilings.

    These events include:
    • The Tour d'Elegance: in which scores of classic cars entered at Concours trace the original 17-mile Drive, a scenic road that winds around the Monterey Peninsula from Pebble Beach to Carmel
    • The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering: held at Quail Lodge Golf Club. Here, luxury auto manufacturers display future concept cars and debut new luxury models. At the 2012 Concours, Lincoln unveiled its 2013 MKS, Rolls Royce debuted the 2013 Ghost and Phantom Coupe Aviator, and Bentley showed off its 2013 Continental GT Speed. Guests can test-drive these and certain vintage beauties for a handsome ticket price
    • Car Auctions by RM Auctions: evry year, over 100 cars were sold; with typically a dozen for over  a million dollars
    • Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company: Gooding auctions off between 50 and 100 million worth of cars. These spectacular autos have included a 1936 von Krieger Special Roadster, at $11,770,000,the highest price ever paid for a Mercedes-Benz or for a pre-WWII car

    Other Enjoyable Events at Concours d'Elegance

    Other events during or preceding Concours d'Elegance include:
    • McCall's Motorworks Revival, a sophisticated soirée with Champagne and champion cars
    • Pacific Grove Concours Auto Rally, a parade with free admission
    • Bonhams & Butterfields auction of autos and art
    • The Mecum Auction of muscle cars
    • Automobilia Monterey, for car memorabilia
    • Legends of the Autobahn, which judges German cars
    • Corso Italiano, a celebration of Italian cars, fashion, art, music (plus food and vino)
    • The Special Award, which honors a singe car manufacturer for a significant contribution to the automotive wor;s

    Auto Racing at Concours d'Elegance

    Thousands of fans gather to watch cars of all vintages race at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The paddocks are open to the public, furnishing a rare opportunity to view classic race cars and meet their owners and drivers.

    "You'll be amazed at what you see here," said my guide, Tom Kowaleski, as we walked the racegrounds. Kowaleski has judged classic cars at Concours d'Elegance and believes the paddock tour to be "a don't-miss Concours event. Anything that's ever been raced is on these grounds."

    Dress Well!

    Concours d'Elegance evenings are filled with social events. Dress festively and drive carefully.

    Next: how to become a part of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Planning for Concours d'Elegance

    Lincoln MKZ at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
    ©Michael Hiller/all rights reserved

    The 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    The 67th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will take place on Sunday, August 20, 2017. Early planning is recommended, especially for a hotel room.

    Where to Stay in Pebble Beach

    Many Concours d'Elegance attendees drive up from LA or down from San Francisco for the day. But hotel stays in Pebble Beach's Monterey Bay area are more convenient and relaxing than day trips.

    I can recommend without reservation these hotels in or near Pebble Beach:
    Inn at Spanish Bay
    • The Lodge at Pebble Beach
    • Bernardus Lodge, Carmel

    Where to Find Out More About Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

    • Concours d'Elegance official website
    • On Facebook
    • On Pinterest
    • By email
    • By phone: 831.622.1700

    As is common in the travel and automotive industries, the Guest Author was provided with a complimentary visit to Concours d'Elegance for the purpose of describing the event. For more info, see our site's Ethics Policy.