Auto Industry Featured Story

1931 Bentley named Best of Show at Pebble Beach Concours

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald

Every August, the history of the automobile rolls onto the competition field of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where, this year, 216 classic cars from 17 countries and 31 states represented the evolution of the automotive dream.

Among the cars chosen to participate in this premier automotive pageant of elegance and innovation was the 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer of The Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie of Hong Kong, and it was presented with the prestigious Best of Show award at the Concours on Sunday.

As the golden ribbon was placed upon the windshield alongside ribbons garnered for the car’s class win and completion of the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, Sir Michael expressed his gratitude for the award and the car.

“The Centennial of Bentley may have played a role in this award,” he said, “but the 8 Litre is the ultimate W. O. Bentley–era automobile. This is the car that represents Bentley at its finest, and I have been very fortunate to have a car that has this elegance and finish, and that the Pebble Beach Concours feels is worthy.”

Sir Michael hopes and imagines W. O. Bentley was looking down on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach, feeling proud of his accomplishment and his company’s centennial celebration. “This is a high I have not known before,” he said.

“This Bentley exudes strength and confidence, and that translates into elegance,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “Yes, this is a fast, strong, sturdy car, but it also has perfect proportions, a stunning stance, and a boldness that draws you to it. When you drive it, it does everything you ask of it.”

The race for Best of Show this year featured other strong contenders, including Richard and Melanie Lundquist’s 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni & Falaschi Teardrop Cabriolet; David F. MacNeil’s 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Coupé; and The Keller Collection at The Pyramids’ 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Erdmann & Rossi Special Cabriolet.

On this occasion, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance raised more than $2 million for charity. Through the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the primary charitable partner of the Concours, these funds will benefit more than 80 local charities, impacting the lives of more than 10,000 children annually in Monterey County.

Jay Leno, comedian, actor, producer, and host of Jay Leno’s Garage, who led the charity drawing during the Concours Awards Ceremony, raised more than $100,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County by offering tours of his garage. He has now raised more than $800,000 for Concours charities.

Gooding & Company, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, realized more than $76 million at the annual Pebble Beach Auctions this weekend. The stars of Friday’s auctions were the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider which sold for $9,905,000, and the 1975 Ferrari 312T, which garnered attention with a final sale price of $6,000,000. Saturday’s stars included the 1931 Studebaker Special Indy Car, which set a new auction world record when it sold for $1,105,000, and the 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 Coupe, which hammered at $2,755,000.

The 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will take place on Sun., Aug. 16, 2020, and will celebrate 70 years of Pebble Beach Concours Best of Show winners, Pininfarina, and Porsche 917s. For more information on the Pebble Beach Concours visit www.pebblebeachconcours.net.

Several years ago, I was most fortunate to be invited – by Infiniti – to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. If you are a car nut, it is a car show not to be missed. It is not for the faint of heart, however: there is more money there – for the most part – than you can imagine, even in your wildest dreams. People spend millions of dollars on cars that are classics but probably not expressway-worthy. Held on the Monterey Peninsula of California, which is gorgeous in and of itself, the hotels jack up their prices ($1,800 a night for a standard room, in some cases) as do the restaurants and even the gas stations. Thousands of people show up for it but the budget travelers drive in and then drive out, all in the same day.

It was a great day Friday to take a drive and to show off some of these cars. The 2019 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex was held and entrants gathered for coffee and donuts before taking their cars on a scenic drive along portions of 17-Mile Drive and historic Highway 1.

Another group of cars, participating in the Motoring Classic, arrived on Wednesday. Beginning in Seattle, Washington, the drive covered approximately 1,500 miles as it wound down through the mountains and along the coast of the Pacific Northwest on its way to the Pebble Beach Concours.

The Inn  on Spanish Bay is a classy hotel (although I wasn’t impressed by either dining room, to be totally honest). Gwyneth Paltrow was there the same time as I was and she actually smiled at me in the lobby as she walked past with her two massive bodyguards. I ran into 1960s F1 driver Howden Ganley and did an interview. He was selling his autobiography at something called RetroAuto, which features a curated collection of exhibitors offering rare collectibles and memorabilia from the  automotive past. 

There are Forums, of course. Every good car show has some exchange of ideas or presentation and Pebble Beach is no different. This one was moderated by Spike Fersten (with the support of Porsche) and featured retired racing star Hurley Haywood and TV and move star Patrick Dempsey, where they talked about their movie Hurley. Incidentally, Scott Maxwell’s Mini Grid is presenting Hurley in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Regent Theatre on Mount Pleasant Rd. I hope to see you there. Oh, and Haywood will be there too.

Meantime, the De Tomaso P72 (above) made its North American debut on the 18th fairway alongside the original De Tomaso 70 designed by racing great Peter Brock—who was on hand. A true modern-day time machine, the P72 will create a new segment in today’s market. The De Tomaso P72 will be available to see on the Concept Lawn this Sunday. Along with hundreds ofr other concepts, classics and highly original cars.