Pebble Beach, CA, July 31, 2008 – Every third Sunday in August, rows and rows of pristinely restored Duesenbergs, Packards and Bugattis decorate the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links®. It’s the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, an automotive time capsule where entries are judged for their elegance and authenticity.
In recent years, though, some graying interlopers have cropped up amidst the spotless, automotive jewels.
Immaculately restored vehicles assuredly still capture the majority of the Concours limelight, but the unrefurbished cars of the Pebble Beach prewar and postwar preservation classes are garnering more and more public and media attention.
“There’s something stately about these treasures that actually show their history; once regal vehicles that have been left unrestored by their owners,” says Sandra Kasky Button, Pebble Beach Concours Chairman. “Some have sat untouched for decades in barns, under tarps or buried in the back of deserted warehouses while others have been lovingly driven around town. In each instance, they’re unique, beautiful and bear witness to the passage of time — not only to those who created them, but to those who drove them.”
A prime example of historic beauty and relevance in this year’s Concours is Porsche
No. 1. Dr. Ferry Porsche once said, “I couldn’t find the car I’d been dreaming of. So I decided to build it myself.”
On June 8, 1948 his dream car became a reality and signaled the birth of the sports car company bearing his name. The car spent many years with numerous owners before being recovered and returned in 1958 to the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, where it has remained the centerpiece of Porsche’s automotive history.
Porsche No. 1’s appearance at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance is Porsche’s second chance to display this piece of history in the U.S. Ten years ago, on the occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary, the first attempt was foiled by a shipping accident that damaged the car and prevented its debut. On Aug. 17, though, Porsche will make good on its quest to show No. 1 in its original glory at Pebble Beach when it joins 16 of its preservation brethren to create the largest showing of unrestored cars in the event’s history.
When horseless carriages began ruling the road about 100 years ago, many vehicles were discarded once they began to age. By the late 1950s, as the collector car pastime began to blossom, the emphasis was solely focused on restoring these older cars — making them as good or better than new. More recently, though, some auto aficionados have come to believe that cars restored to “as new” condition can lose a portion of their historical significance. While some purists are still unable to see beauty amid the chipped paint, rusted rims and sun-shredded upholstery, leaders in the preservation movement insist that the patina of age has a beauty all its own, that these “rescued” automotive time capsules maintain peak historical importance by keeping the cars in their original unchanged condition.
The Pebble Beach Concours initially recognized preservation cars in 1999 when a trophy was awarded for Best Preserved Car. The first class at Pebble Beach solely devoted to pre-war preservation vehicles was in 2001, and in 2007 a post-war preservation class was created.
“Our preservation classes cover a wide range of cars – from the untouched, long-hidden finds to much-loved automobiles that have been used, well maintained (but not restored) and passed down through many generations of owners,” says Button. “Everyone talks about the untouched barn find and bemoans the fact that they’re increasingly rare. To be truly preserved for a long period of time, though, cars require lots of care. So over time, I think everybody’s preference will swing toward lovingly preserved cars.”