240 rare classics judged at Pebble Beach Concours

Pebble Beach, California — Pebble Beach claims to be the top automotive concours in the country and among the best worldwide.

Seeing is believing.

Some 240 vehicles in 28 classes provided more than enough automotive history, design and mechanical accomplishments August 21 to satisfy the most knowledgeable guests and intrigue those just enjoying a chilly Sunday outing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

>>Browse a photo gallery of the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Former Tonight Show host and renowned car collector Jay Leno wandered through the crowd that comprised more than a few purse-size pooches, women in impossible shoes, snoozing babies, avid photographers of all ages, concours officials in sport coats and straw hats and volunteers peddling raffle tickets for a Mercedes and a 2017 Infiniti.

In the midst of it, Gerhard Schnuerer of Huntington Beach, California was answering some tough questions from judges huddled around his 1911 Benz Tourer.

“The carburetor is newer but authentic,” he explained. A judge complimented the car’s “good authentic detail,” asked Schnuerer to fire up the Benz and wondered about whether an electrical versus a pressurized system for starting the car was correct.

1912 Peugeot Bebe

Designed by Ettore Bugatti and built under license by Peugeot, this dainty 1912 Peugeot BP1 Bebe Columbia Lamp Works Roadster, shown by George Wingard of Eugene, Ore. (with hat behind the car), was fitted with a custom body and electric lights by Columbia Lamp Works of New York City. (Jenny King, Special to The Detroit News)

A fragile-looking 700-pound 1912 Peugeot Bebe BPI Columbia Lamp Works roadster with umbrella-like cape top was shown by George Wingard of Eugene, Ore. Wingard said its design was from Bugatti and the Columbia Lamp Works in New York City provided its body and electric lights.

Peugeot sold some 3,000 Type BP1 Bebes, he said. It was popular in Britain. Some Bebes raced and had a top speed of up to 50 miles an hour. Wingard, who has shown some of his large race cars at Pebble Beach, decided to bring the Bebe this time. Work on the car was completed only a week ahead of the event.

Another small vehicle with an interesting past was the unassuming blue 1953 Fiat 50. Designed and built by Giotto Bizzarrini while a mechanical engineering student at the University of Pisa, it served as his thesis and later helped Bizzarrini secure a job with Ferrari. Michael Brunner of Deutschnofen, Italy, is the lucky owner of this historic car. Bizzarrini opened his own company in 1964 and built highly specialized concept and racing cars before the business folded in 1969.

1953 Fiat 500 Bizzarrini

This 1953 Fiat 500 “Macchinetta” Berlinetta is the first car built by Giotto Bizzarrini while a mechanical engineering student at the University of Pisa. Michael Brunner of Deutschnofen, Italy is the current owner.
(Jenny King / Special to The Detroit News)

Bizzarrini, BMW and Ford GT were among the many automotive names being celebrated at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours. A white 1957 BMW 508 roadster leased to Elvis Presley while he was in the service and stationed in Germany was among the BMWs froat thm the last 100 years. Ford’s famous Corvette-fighting GTs lined the coast at the edge of the 18th green of the golf course at the Lodge at Pebble Beach.

The invitation list, always a very complex undertaking according to concours directors, included familiar names like Packard, Ferrari, Bentley, Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz, Auburn and Alfa Romeo.

1938 Horch

Further distinguished by its Erdmann & Rosse coachwork, this stunning 1938 Horch is said to be one of only three remaining of the first series of the Horch 853. (Jenny King / Special to The Detroit News)

A silver-blue 1938 Horch roadster with special Erdmann & Rossi body, resplendent in chrome trim and a split rear bumper that offered little protection, was among the European late classics. A snappy two-tone Fiat 1100E Zagato Berlinetta from The Netherlands was one of Zagato alloy-bodied Fiat 1100s designed for racing and helped on the track by Carlo Abarth engine refinements.

The 1930s were well-represented by Chapron bodies on Delages, a Hotchkiss and Delahayes.

One of the oldest of the early cars was the 1901 Panhard et Levassor Type B1 race car with lacey baffles on its totally exposed radiator and buffed copper tubing under the thin hood. Evan Ide, a Massachusetts auto restorer who worked on the Panhard, was showing concours visitors the copper and steel radiator, hand-made rivets and aluminum fenders and its engine – a Daimler-Phoenix design licensed to Panhard.

This Panhard cost $12,000 new – prohibitively expensive for most enthusiasts, Ide said. It ran in an endurance race from New York City to Buffalo, N.Y. in 1901. Its provenance said Rene Panhard was the first to manufacture a motor car with an engine mounted in front and rear-wheel drive (a chain, in this case). Restoration of the car, now owned by Rob Kauffman of Charlotte, N.C., was completed only days before the August 21 concours.

1901 Panhard

With its original running gear cleaned and polished to perfection, this 1901 Panhard et Levassor Type B1 Race Car had been in a museum and was purchased a year ago by Rob Kauffman of Charlotte, N.C. It raced from New York City to Buffalo in 1901, had a top speed of about 50 mph and cost $12,000 new. (Jenny King / Special to The Detroit News)