Breathtaking rare cars dominate this year's Pebble Beach Concours

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — New models and exotic concept cars from current auto makers crowded the hill that pours down onto the 18th fairway, site of the annual Pebble Beach Concours here.

But the 200 vehicles specially chosen for this 61st concours easily overshadowed their descendants, with a 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne four-door closed car owned by collectors Peter and Merle Mullin of Los Angeles winning Best of Show.

Mullin, a renowned collector whose Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., celebrates the Art Deco movement, has had vehicles at Pebble Beach on 27 occasions. He told the judges that winning with the French-made Voisin was “special, significant, rewarding.”

Vehicles assembled August 21 on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links were grouped in 29 classes. The overall winner — Best of Show — was selected from the class winners.

The 2011 concours celebrated the anniversaries for Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Jaguar and Stutz.

Stutz owners Richard and Irina Mitchell of Montgomery, Tex., had three Stutzes from their collection at the 2011 event. Mitchell said he likely was not the only invitee to bring several cars to show.

Mitchell was seated near his 1930 Stutz M Lancefield Coupe.

“I’ve had the 1930 M for a year, ” he said. “After chasing it for five years, I bought it at the RM Auctions sale in Monterey in 2011.”

Mitchell said the British firm of Lancefield Coachworks built a total of six Stutzes; his, with overhead cam/overhead valve straight eight engine, is the sole survivor, he said.

The majority of cars invited to the concours featured special bodies. Their names as listed in the day’s program were longer than the monikers worn by European aristocracy.

Concour guests packed the green, elbowing one another in order to take photos, sipping drinks and downing sandwiches on the typically gray August day. They remarked on the extraordinary attention to detail each vehicle offered.

The 1952 Cadillac Special Roadster from the Palo Alto collection of John and Heather Mozart featured aircraft-style instrumentation. The two-seater was designed by General Motors’ Harley Earl and purchased by Harold Boyer, GM’s executive vice president of Cadillac Military Manufacturing.

Mike Hemus, who oversees the Mozart fleet, said the collector has some 150 vehicles.

Celebrating 125 years of automotive history, the assembly of Mercedes-Benz cars included a 1915 Mercedes 28/60 with change-of-season bodies. This HP Tourer, owned by the Penultimate Group of Westlake Village, Calif., had a severe-looking open-front town car body for winter driving from 1917. The car’s original torpedo body (summer) has been reproduced and was displayed without chassis beside the vehicle. Tools for the transformation were stowed on board.

The winter town car was displayed with a wooden ladder for access to roof-mounted luggage.

Competitors from 30 states, the District of Columbia, 14 countries and the principality of Monaco brought their vehicles to the Monterey Peninsula for this popular event.

“It’s the ultimate thrill, although I wasn’t sure I’d actually won,” said Best-of-Show winner Peter Mullin.

“We were sitting in the bullpen with the other two finalists (out of a field of 227 cars), the judges pointed at me and I thought I finished third.,” said the collector who admitted he is a “French car guy.”

The other cars nominated for Best of Show were a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C owned by Richard Stephens from Auburn, Calif., and a 1929 Bentley Speed Six owned by Daniel Sielecki from Capital, Argentina.