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Not having been there in years, the ab-

sence of many surprised me. Bentley, Fer-

rari, BMW, Porsche, Lamborghini and

others now rent incredible villas at Pebble

Beach for the week. These are palatially

gated properties large enough to display

the newest models in a courtyard or circu-

lar drive in front of a main house large

enough for a “Gatsby Style” party. I saw no

map of their locations, so assumed atten-

dance to these functions were by invitation

only, but if you stumbled in with a media

pass you were welcomed. The general pub-

lic could walk past the gates to see the

cars, but may not be able to attend the pri-

vate parties within. A visit to all of them

would make a fine coffee table book of cap-

tioned photos and comments. A 2016 proj-

ect, perhaps.

Somewhere along the way I ran into

someone I had met at Amelia Island in

2014. He had described himself as a go-fer

on the Newman-Haas race team back in

the day, active now in the restoration busi-

ness. He told me about six show cars he

worked on, now resting in a rented garage

he pointed to across the bay. They were

brought in from LA for Sunday’s Concours.

The home owner cleared his garage each

year to rent it for a week of event storage

and prepping. Guests are invited to the

house to view “his collection.”

Sunday morning I strode into the Peb-

ble Beach Concours at 7:15 a.m., just early

enough to watch some of the cars being

driven onto the show field. The sun bright-

ened the sky behind the coastal moun-

tains, but had not yet risen above them. In

light fog penetrated by early morning

light, the property looked serene. Even at

that hour, before the field officially opened

to the public, there were enough volun-

teers, owners with entourages of relatives,

well-wishers, car dusters, detailers, restor-

ers, and photographers – known as the

“Dawn Patrol” – trying to take photos be-

fore the deluge of humanity surrounds the

cars to make it impossible to exclude peo-

ple from the images. No matter. Automo-

biles look abandoned without us. No story

emerges. What are they doing there? Why

are they alone? Automobiles are machines

born of purpose; more interesting in use

than in resting.

I walked the show field, trying to take

it in while it was still relatively un-

crowded, but that proved impossible; not

because there are too many cars, but be-

cause their quality and variety is so great

it begs you to linger. Pick out a few, speak

to the owners, and time has disappeared.

You can never see all of them in any depth,

but you can return to next year’s selection.

One of the displays I enjoy the most,

are the unrestored cars. The rougher the

better. There were only a few and I wish

there were more of them. Not that quality

restorations aren’t enjoyable, there is

something special about an owner willing

to display a great car in deteriorated con-

dition. Some people find it sad. I find it

beautiful, like an aged portrait with all of

its history. This is one of the reasons I love

the Simone Museum in Philadelphia. It’s

filled with great, unrestored race cars. I

wince at the condition of the Daytona

Coupe, but I like it the way it is.

It takes a year or two to restore a car

to a higher quality than original manufac-

ture. It takes decades to make a great

preservation car. You can’t add patina to a

cosmetically nice or restored automobile.

Maybe an artist can, but would anyone do

it? A car can age well like a fine wine for

decades, in the opinion of some people, im-

proving it. I believe in property rights. If

you own it, do what you wish with it.

Thank you to owners of preservation cars

for leaving them as they are; for having the

courage to display them unrestored. Save

the restoration cost and buy two. Simone

did OK.

I toured the Automotive Fine Arts So-

ciety pavilion. Sometimes I think I like the

paintings more than the automobiles and

this year was no exception. I love the

scenes artists place the cars in with the

significance of the automobile within. A

sports car parked in a narrow street in an

The SHELBY AMERICAN

Winter 2016 45