at Pebble Beach Lodge, August 21, 2016
The Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance, where the finest of fine collectible cars compete, is probably the most prestigious auto event in the world. And, it’s just a couple of hours south of San Francisco. The only problem is that a $375 ticket on show day (Sunday, August 21, 2016, this year) seems a little steep to me.
I can’t guarantee this will still work but a few years ago a car-savvy friend and I figured out how to enjoy more than 80% of the fun for less than 20% of the price. Rather than going down on Sunday, the day of the expensive final event, we went down the day before on Saturday. Most exhibits were already up, it was more laid back & less crowded, and the price was FREE. Driving in on 17-Mile Drive to get to the Lodge did set us back $10 however (in the past that was deductible if you eat at the Lodge … save your 17-Mile Drive entrance receipt).
Another angle we enjoy is going to the Monterey Pre-Reunion races held the weekend prior to the Concourse D’Elegance at nearby Laguna Seca Raceway. These Pre-Reunion races are much less crowded and provide much more access to the race cars than do the Reunion races held the next week.
Some of what we enjoyed on “free” Saturday
- Superb collector cars
Though the main competition between the 200 finest collector cars in the world is on Sunday, on Saturday you will still see hundreds of outstanding cars driving around Pebble Beach Lodge and Carmel. Part of the overall event is a Tour so driving your fancy automobile and showing it off is a big part of the scene.Setting up for Sunday’s competitionAnother Sunday competitor
Ocean Avenue in Carmel is a common destination for almost everyone. There you can find many collectibles and other fine cars parked along the street, sometimes on red carpets, accompanied by owners ready to talk about their pride and joy.
- No crowds
Not having to fight crowds is high on my list of ingredients for a pleasant day. So, just avoiding the throngs made Saturday a better choice for me. It was very easy to walk around, talk with exhibitors, and enjoy all of the Pebble Beach Lodge facilities. We even found a free parking spot within 15 minutes.
- Pebble Beach Lodge
This was a great way to see everything at the Lodge. There was much security, a good thing, but visitors could go most anywhere without restriction … including the entire 18th hole fairway (being set up for Sunday’s main show), the many Lodge retail shops & restaurants, the tennis club, etc.After checking out a couple of holes on the Pebble Beach golf course and the retail shops we ended up eating at Stillwater Bar & Grill overlooking the 18th hole and Carmel Bay. The least expensive item on the menu was a decent $19 hamburger. We heard that there was a free lunch buffet at the Nissan Infiniti manufacturer’s exhibit but my friend likes to live it up. Note: We also heard they will deduct your $9.50 17-Mile Drive receipt from the tab here but forgot to try.Stillwater Bar & GrillPebble Beach Lodge Retail Shops
- Concept cars
Most luxury car manufacturers had their latest concept cars displayed on the golf putting green located right in the middle of the main Lodge buildings. We particularly liked the Jaguar’s lines. There were many car magazine photographers working at the putting green and all around the event; we saw interviews and videos being done at several other locations as well.Bentley & Jag concept carsMore concept cars parked on the large golf putting greens
Luxury car manufacturer’s displays
These beautiful auto exhibits were among the best things to see. Besides fantastic new cars some of the greatest old vehicles in history were displayed. If you are interested in buying a new car don’t be surprised at prices $100,000 and up.Many, many new MercedesMany new Jaguars
Mercedes-Benz had a completely separate pavilion, with several dozen of their top cars. The other manufacturers were set up along a sloping fairway near the Lodge. All had great cars, good drinks & snacks, and knowledgeable factory experts with plenty of time to talk. For example, we spent 45 minutes sitting around the Jaguar exhibit eating snacks and joking with the experts. I also enjoyed the Porsche, Infiniti (tasty snacks & drinks), Cadillac (good coffee), McClaren, and BMW (nifty Minis) exhibits.
We did visit the auction tent for collectible motorcycles but didn’t bother to attend the collectible car auction. We also walked through the Retroauto memorabilia stands and checked out the Wall Street Journal pavilion which had excellent food, outstanding margaritas, and wine tastings all on the house.
After a shortish day at the Concourse we headed on to Carmel, to see the scene there and check out the many fancy cars parked along Ocean Ave; private owners like to show off and talk about their cars too!
For an early dinner our choice was Le St. Tropez, a pleasing neighborhood French restaurant on Dolores Street just off Ocean Ave. I was already full from too much snacking at the Concourse so French onion soup and a Gran Marnier soufflé sufficed. Then, back to the SF Bay area before it got too late. It was a GREAT DAY!
All in all, this “one day before” the Concourse d’Elegance at Pebble Beach was definitely the finest and most pleasant automobile event in my experience. Of course, it helped that Pebble Beach Lodge on Carmel Bay is one of the most beautiful venues in the world. Be forewarned, after attending this you may be too spoiled to ever want to visit a lesser car show.
- Concept cars