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Classic Show Is Site of Beauty, Buyers, Bugattis

July 30, 1998|PAUL DEAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Squeezed into a single event jamming one long August weekend on the Monterey Peninsula, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has evolved into an international automotive beauty pageant, a racing retrospective and a gallery of cars transformed by time into fine art.

Also the world's lushest used-car lot.

Not a bad journey from 1950--when Pebble Beach was just a Cinderella car show attached to a regional sports car race--to Aug. 14-16, when the event reemerges as mecca-cum-Brigadoon for automobile worshipers, collectors, restorers, racers and buyers from countries where autos are icons. Which is worldwide.

Pebble is the place where world builders such as Bentley and Ferrari have revealed concepts and prototypes and even based production decisions on crowd reactions.

Impassioned hobbyists--including Jay Leno, Ralph Lauren and author Clive Cussler--make pilgrimages to the Lodge at Pebble Beach to compete with their restored Duesenbergs and Bugattis. Grand Prix champions of yesteryear--Jackie Stewart, Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori and Dan Gurney--have revived their pasts and been reunited with their original cars for spectators at the Historic Car Races at nearby Laguna Seca Raceway.

In 1985, six Bugatti Royales, all that were built and worth an estimated $90 million, were brought together for the first time at the Bugatti Royale Summit at Pebble.

This year, as always, several million dollars in vehicles, from '50s classics in the making to established treasures once owned by Hollywood immortals, will be auctioned by Christie's and Brooks of England. A companion auction for more attainable sports cars will be held at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey.

And the event's honored marques--initiates in a Hall of Fame of the arcane--include Porsche, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary; the Belgian-built Minerva classics; and an early breed of Bentley built only at Derby, England, in the '30s. Examples of each marque will be exhibited.

* Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Open to the public Aug. 16, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include program, parking and shuttle ride to show field. Call (408) 372-8026 for ticket information; advance purchase is highly recommended.

* Concours Italiano, Aug. 14, Quail Lodge, Carmel. $40, includes program. (425) 688-1903.

* Monterey Sports Car Auction, Double Tree Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, Aug. 14-15. Catalogs and information: (800) 211-4371.

* Blackhawk Collection Exposition of Classic Cars at Pebble Beach, Aug. 14-16. Catalogs and information: (610) 736-3444.

* Brooks Auction at Quail Lodge, Aug. 15. (415) 391-4000.

* Monterey Historic Car Races at Laguna Seca, Aug. 15. $35. (800) 327-7322.

* Christie's Auction at Pebble Beach, Aug. 16. Catalogs and information: (800) 395-6300.

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