As the epic annual Monterey Classic Car Week continues to grow and grow, so too does one of its central events, the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex. In the 2015 event, which was blessed by the best Californian weather in recent years, nearly 200 cars with a value collectively running into the many hundreds of millions of dollars, ran the non-competitive tour of 80 miles (129 kilometers), to the mass approval of huge crowds.
Appreciative enthusiasts of all ages dominated not only at the start at 08.00am, but also at the finish in Pebble Beach following a lunch stop on Ocean Avenue at Carmel-by-the- Sea. The heritage of the Tour comes from an historic event involving a 17-Mile Road Race running from 1950 to 1956.
Not just a Tour…
The Tour is not just a golden opportunity for locals and enthusiasts from around the world to savor the beauty and elegance of some of the greatest classics of all time, but participating may also be crucial for those hoping to succeed in the finale of the week, the Rolex-supported Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday 16th August. In the event that two cars tie in the Concours, the car that successfully participated in the Tour will take the prize.
“There are clear parallels between the classic car scene at this level and those of Rolex," said Rolex Watch USA President and Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Wicht. “Many of the owners here at Pebble Beach, are motivated by excellence and a passion for the enduring sense of tradition. These are the values shared by Rolex and Pebble Beach is therefore an entirely fitting partnership for us."
The 2015 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex, saw a remarkable line-up of fine cars from many eras: from a 1902 Panhard et Lavassor TB1 saloon to a yet-to-go-on-sale Mercedes-Benz AMG GT-S, the variety is vast. But it is not current cars that dominate and in most cases, it is the quality and excellence of the presentation that causes the audible “wows", cheers and waves from the many fans present.
Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex – first-hand experience
Some privileged people had the opportunity to take part in the Tour and to experience at first hand, just what a unique experience the event is. Bill Kuettel one of this year’s participants shared his passion with some guest passengers. Bill entered his immaculate and rare 1928 Lincoln L Holbrook Cabriolet this year, a car claimed to be the most expensive Lincoln ever built. The car has a colorful history having been ordered at the 1928 Paris Motor Show by the then Peruvian Ambassador serving in France.
The classic Lincoln departed the start at the Pebble Beach Lodge at 08.15am, heading East along with the 190 entrants, in bright sunshine. Through undulating pine forests and scrubland, Bill handled the 6.4 liter V8 cabriolet with great precision to the first stop at Clint Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club.
Forty five minutes later, the Tour departed Tehama and headed West back toward the legendary and highly scenic Pacific Highway 1, San Francisco to Los Angeles coast road. Highway Police officers were impressively stationed at every junction to make sure Tour entrants took priority over other traffic and traffic lights.
History of the Lincoln
85 year old Bill told his guests how he bought the car 25 years before and handled the vast majority of the restoration personally. The work took six years and the result is startlingly immaculate. Bill likened his work to his love of Rolex time pieces: he was wearing a Rolex Cellini for the Tour that he has owned for 25 years. He also told them of his first Rolex, a much cherished 18 carat yellow gold Oyster Perpetual he bought at age 18.
Bill’s Lincoln classic actually won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1995 and so the car was classed as a guest entry.
The Lincoln arrived in Carmel for the lunch stop at 11.15am on a very crowded Ocean Avenue. Spectators were clearly excited by the amazing spectacle of all the entries in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex. All drivers and passengers enjoyed lunch in the bright Californian sunshine, before returning to the start at 2.00pm – a fitting end to a remarkable day.
Rolex has been involved in Monterey Classic Car Week since 1997, and the event forms a significant part of its association with the cardinal elements of motor sport: endurance, speed and tradition.
Rolex involvement continues tomorrow (Friday) with The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (14 – 16 August) and concludes with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday.