The first Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is held in conjunction with the first Pebble Beach Road Race. Racing great Phil Hill, who will go on to be a World Driver’s Champion, wins the Road Race driving a Jaguar XK120. Best of Show at the Concours goes to a 1950 Edwards R-26 Special Sport Roadster owned by its creator, Sterling Edwards. At the Concours, two to three dozen cars are exhibited in three classes: prewar cars, postwar cars and MGs. The Races and Concours are such a success that they are repeated immediately the following spring.
The Concours moves from the Beach Club to the lawn of what is then called Del Monte Lodge (now The Lodge at Pebble Beach). Classes increase and cars are distinguished based on cost and type.
Concours entries exceed 100 for the first time. The Concours also hosts its first special exhibition—two winners of the Carrera Panamericana (the Mexican Road Race).
Lucius Beebe joins the team of Concours judges. A bon vivant who lent great color to this event, he adores the marque Rolls-Royce. In 1966 the Concours’ first special award will be named for him and awarded annually to the Rolls-Royce “most in the Lucius Beebe tradition.”
Phil Hill wins the Pebble Beach Road Races for the third time and his 1931 Pierce-Arrow 41 LeBaron Convertible Town Cabriolet wins Best of Show at the Concours. It is the first true “Classic” car to do so; previously, new cars have always taken the top award. Now the show begins to focus much more on antique, vintage and classic models. The Concours also introduces its first two featured marques—Cord and Packard—on this occasion.
The Road Races and the Concours are held together at Pebble Beach for the last time. Ernie McAfee loses control of a 1955 Ferrari 121LM Scaglietti Spyder during the Races, hits a tree and dies.
The races move to Laguna Seca. For a time, the two events are still held concurrently, but eventually Laguna Seca develops a full calendar of races. On its own, the Concours still attracts 10,000 spectators.
J. B. Nethercutt’s 1930 duPont Model G Merrimac Town Car wins Best of Show, setting a new standard for excellence in automotive restorations. Nethercutt will go on to win Best of Show a total of six times. The first poster to advertise the Concours appears (prior posters advertised the races), an awards ramp is built, and class categories distinguish classics from antique and vintage cars for the first time. Rolls-Royce also becomes the first marque to get its own ongoing class.
The 1960 Concours is canceled due to inclement weather and cannot be rescheduled until the following spring. In 1961, for the first time, the Concours requests a one-dollar donation from those in attendance. These donations go directly to benefit the Monterey Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary.
William Harrah takes home his first win. He will eventually take home a total of four Best of Show awards.
Eldon Dedini creates not one but two posters for the Concours; the original art is offered as a gate prize and unused posters are sold to the public for charity. Dedini, who is perhaps best known for his cartoons for Esquire, The New Yorker and Playboy, goes on to create 11 posters for 9 of our Concours, and they are all now much in demand.
Amidst the festivities, Bob Hope takes to the stage for a full 45 minutes to entertain the Concours crowd. Jay Leno will later renew the tradition, taking the mic on a regular basis.
Gwenn Graham, who oversaw the Concours throughout its early years, dies, and in her absence the Concours struggles. In a rather dramatic departure from previous years, a 1964 Maserati Mistral Coupé takes Best of Show. For the ensuing three years, the Concours bears Graham’s name. Some of the Concours’ “Most Elegant” Awards also honor her.
Lorin Tryon and Jules “J.” Heumann agree to serve as Co-Chairmen of the Concours, and seek to improve the event by strengthening the field of cars and the judges. Separate groups of Class and Honorary Judges are established and Strother MacMinn is named Chief Honorary Judge.
The first Monterey Historic Automobile Races are held at Laguna Seca in tandem with the Concours and the Concours honors some cars from the races. The Pebble Beach Cup, initially awarded to winners of the early Pebble Beach Road Races, returns as a special award for race cars; it is first presented to Robert Ames’ 1951 HRG. The first Hans Tanner Trophy for best Ferrari goes to Stephen Griswold’s 1952 Ferrari 212 Touring Roadster. United Way of Monterey County becomes the principal recipient of Concours proceeds. And after the Concours concludes, a mishap occurs: a fire engine filled with water pulls onto the Concours ramp and it collapses.
Mrs. W. O. (Margaret) Bentley is on hand to present special awards to featured Bentley automobiles. Race driver Janet Guthrie also drops by.
All six Bugatti Royales are united for the first time at Pebble Beach—an amazing feat that underscores the Concours’ status as the top event of its kind.
The centennial of Mercedes-Benz is honored, and when Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss drive up the ramp in a replica of Carl Benz’s Patent Motor Wagon, they very nearly tip over. The Concours also hosts the first annual AFAS exhibition.
Nuccio Bertone is reunited with three of his Alfa Romeo B.A.T.s (Berlina Aerodynamica Tecnica) when Italian custom coachwork takes center stage at the Concours. American Dream cars are also on display; this sets the stage for a display of early concept cars. Then, beginning in 1993, current concept cars are exhibited each year
In addition to the annual featured marques, special classes are proliferating. Hot Rods take to the field for the first time and there is even a class for Microcars.
Designer Sergio Scaglietti is honored. The first Tour d’Elegance is held just prior to the Concours and is an immediate success.
Lorin Tryon dies prior to the Concours and J. Heumann serves as sole Chairman. Glenn Mounger and Ed Gilbertson join the Executive Committee. The Lorin Tryon Trophy is established to recognize longtime contributors to the Concours and it is first presented to Don Williams of Blackhawk. The importance of preserving cars is also reemphasized: the FIVA Trophy for best preserved car is established.
The Concours celebrates its golden anniversary. A selection of past Best of Show winners and Road Race standouts are positioned at water’s edge. Teardrops and Boattails and Maseratis are all featured. J. Heumann steps into the role of Chairman Emeritus and Glenn Mounger agrees to serve as Concours Chairman. Ed Gilbertson steps into the new role of Chief Judge.
Although we had hosted several preservation cars at the Concours in prior years, in 2001 we offered the first class devoted to preservation cars. The class winner was a 1919 Locomobile 48 Sportif owned by Jack Passey.
After serving more than two decades as executive director of the Concours, Sandra Button joins Glenn Mounger as Co-Chairman of the event. In 2005 Glenn retires and Sandra continues as sole chairman.
In 2005 the first Motoring Classic wound its way down the pacific coast from Seattle to Pebble Beach. RetroAuto, a carefully curated showcase of collectibles for Automotive enthusiast, opened its doors.
The Phil Hill Scholarships are introduced to honor F1 Champion Phil Hill who was a great friend of the Concours. The first three Phil Hill Scholar recipients are McPherson College students, Kalila "Frankie" Hadad, Casey Maxon, and Jared Coho.
A postwar Ferrari claims the Concours' top award for the first time. The winner is a 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe owned by Jon Shirley.