By Bradley Hasemeyer
on 8.24.12
Photo by BH

To truly understand modern car culture, one must embrace the past — and nowhere is automotive history more rewarding and jaw-dropping than the 18th green of Pebble Beach at the annual Concours d’Elegance. The Pebble Beach contest is the great grandson of 17th century French Aristocracy carriage parades during down sweltering Parisian parkways. Eventually, horses gave way to horsepower and the Concours d’Elegance (“competition of elegance”) became a car show of sorts for proud French drivers (we can easily imagine them with berets, calf-skin driving gloves and pencil-thin moustaches).

Today, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the pinnacle of automotive excellence, and the end of a week of classic car activities in the Monterey area. So when we got the chance to attend the 62nd annual event, which raises more than a million bucks for charity, we grabbed our camera and iPhone, bow tie and suspenders, and set off for Carmel Bay to see the 200 pristine vehicular specimens dating from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

Our photo essay begins after the jump.

Quickly, however, what seemed like the most impressive car we’d ever spotted was overshadowed by an even more amazing specimen.

The Concours encompasses races at Laguna Seca featuring 1920s Bugattis and Porsches, auctions that include a 1968 Ford GT 40 going for $11 million, parties at night and Ferrari motorcades during the day — but everyone comes for Sunday morning, when the best of the best are on display for judging.

The day began under characteristic coastal fogginess as the cars arrived one by one at 5:30 a.m. (up by 4:30 a.m., you’re welcome) in the tradition of “Dawn Patrol.” After about two hours the army of cars and a grip of motorcycles were in position for judging. Various celebrities — including the famously car-obsessed Mr. Jay Leno — and thousands of others in ascots, seersuckers and more hats than the royal wedding were on hand to see concept cars, Rolls-Royces, Duesenbergs and other entries across 20 classes.

At first, viewing the cars was manageable and we took our time picking through the chromed and leathered beauties. Quickly, however, what seemed like the most impressive car we’d ever spotted was overshadowed by an even more amazing specimen. Is this what being at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show after party is like?

One of our favorite highlights from this year’s show was a collection of Mahraja — Indian royalty — autos. From cars built to hunt tigers (yeah!) to vehicles that looked like swans (yikes), this special class of vehicle was strange and unique. The Concours d’Elegance is a bucket list experience and a must for anyone who appreciates motoring history. Rather than the usual snapshots, which you can see strewn across the hundred of automotive sites, we instead aimed our lenses on angles and colors that captured the eye.

Shades of Concours Photo Essay

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