They are two very different faces to one of the world’s most exclusive and alluring classic car shows.
For Peter Mullin, the search began in
Since Mullin got the massive sedan back to the
“It’s now back to the way it came out of Claude Figone’s shop,” 70 years ago, boasts Mullin, one of the country’s better-known classic car collectors, and a regular among the elite of the field, found vying for Pebble’s vaunted Best-in-Show trophy.
A short stroll down the green, Doyle Gammell is enjoying his first visit to the Concours. Surrounded by mega-millionaire collectors, Gammell is quick to make it clear he’s just a regular guy, someone who’s spent his life building cars he can drive fast. One of them, a ’32 Ford Roadster, known among aficionados as the Three-Window Roadster, anchors the hot rod corner of this year’s Concours.
“This is a dream,” Gammell admits, adding that, “I never thought that I’d be at Pebble with my name on a car.”
Best known for classic, pre-War luxury vehicles, Bugattis, Rolls-Royces, Duesenbergs, and Packards, organizers have been working to expand the appeal of what is already one of the world’s most well-attended car shows.
Hot rods first made their appearance in 1997 after a lot of “begging and pleading,” recalls senior Concours judge Ken Gross. Long ignored by traditional car collectors, they’ve only recently begun to be seen, Gross explains, as a serious “American art form.”
Even so, organizers of the
The ensemble includes Mitchell Rasamsky’s ’32 Ford. While it’s almost de rigeur among Pebble alumni to tell tales of million-dollar acquisitions and even more expensive restorations, Rasamsky boasts that he bought his prized rod in 1956 for just $600.
The hot rod class is one of several ways that organizers have subtly tried to shift the focus of the Concours d’Elegance.
Mullin’s long and arduous restoration of his Delahaye is typical among exhibitors. Mark Lizewski, meanwhile, has spent several years rushing to get his Rolls-Royce Labourdette Vutotal ready for the Pebble Greens.
The jaw-dropping two-seater started out as a fairly conventional Rolls, in 1939, but it was then sold to a
This particular car – the last to roll out of the Labourdette studios – features a radically modified take on the classic Rolls grille, flowing into gargantuan front fenders which, in turn, sweep back towards the roadster’s boat-tail rear. Restoring the gold and brass-festooned two-seater was a major challenge, admits Lizewski, who maintains a collection for a wealthy
In the process of putting the Rolls back on the road, Lizewski chose a striking two-tone paint scheme. It’s an eye-catcher, but it’s also a shame, say some collectors, who lament what some dub “over-restoration” by collectors desperate to win a Pebble ribbon or trophy.
As a result, Pebble judges have increasingly shied away from recognizing cars that are over-chromed, or which might use paints unavailable in the era in which they originally rolled onto the street.
And for 2007, the Concours has added three separate classes of “unrestored” models. That doesn’t mean they’re rolling around with rust holes in their floorboards. But a little patina on the bumper adds to the charm of a car that, explains one collector, is a “true piece of history.”
Whatever the viewpoint, there are plenty of eye-catching options on display at the 57th Concours, a total of 190 cars, divided into 24 different classes and worth, by one estimate, well over $200 million. (There were 30 classics on display at the original event.)
This year’s Best? The “Mormon Meteor,” a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Special. Owned by Harry Yeagy, a
That’s a little rich for Doyle Gammell, who just liked to build cars he could race. But he says he’s just “living a dream,” making his debut at Pebble, even if he couldn’t even imagine owning the cars a few parking spaces away from his hot rod.
Summer’s Classic Car Shows Begin by Mike Davis (5/29/2007)
Pebble, Dream Cruise, orphans and more.
Pebble Beach Reaches New Heights by TCC Team (8/21/2006)
A $200 million used car lot.
Lexus Putts Out New Pebble SC by Marty Padgett (8/15/2007)
Bad puns, step aside for new special-ed roadster.