A wonderful weekend in Monterey to attend the annual historic festival at Laguna Seca and to gawp in slack-jawed awe at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
I don’t like concours. Any event designed to encourage people not to use their cars is one I can do without, and as you wandered through the ranks of dazzlingly buffed automotive icons on the Pebble Beach lawns, the sense that they had long ago ceased to be cars in any conventional sense was inescapable. Like statues they stood, inadvertent pastiches of the machines they once were.
What interested me most was the relationship between the owners and the judges handing out prizes.They waited like small boys outside the headmaster’s office for the gimlet-eyed inspectors to scrutinise their machinery. One Mercedes owner suffered the indignity of his 300SL’s indicators failing to perform on command. “It’s a fuse, it must just be a fuse,” he implored, but the judges were already walking away. A mechanic changed the offending item, the owner ran to the judges and begged them to re-inspect the car. But there was no one at Pebble I envied less than the mechanic who allowed a drop of fuel to ooze out of a loose carburettor union of his boss’s Ferrari 275GTB. Some might say a little perspective was needed.
Thank heaven, then, for the so-called preservation class for unrestored cars. These told fascinating tales through the mediums of blistered paint, faded leather and gnarled wood, none more so than a vast 1910 daimler limousine once frequented by george V.