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Max Girardo’s 5 takeaways from Pebble Beach and Monterey Car Week 2021

After a whirlwind week on the Monterey peninsula, concluding with Sunday’s fabulous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Max Girardo has just touched back down in the UK. What better time to find out his 2021 Car Week takeaways?

It was great to be back

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was indescribably special to be back out in Monterey and catch up with so many of our American clients and friends. There was a positively buoyant atmosphere in the air, whether you were on the concours lawn or simply grabbing a late dinner in Carmel. If ever there was proof that interest in the motor car is not in fact dwindling, this was it. The Instagram generation have definitely discovered Car Week, which I think can only be a good thing. 

Modern cars are king

Ironically for the world’s greatest classic car celebration, it was the year of the modern supercar at this year’s collector car auctions in Monterey. Aside from the most obvious highlight of the week, Gooding’s 20.5m US-dollar McLaren F1 (which I think is about right for today’s market), standout sales included the low-mileage US-spec Ferrari F50 at 3.965m dollars, ultra-low-mileage Lexus LFA Nürburgring at 1.6m dollars and the stunning Rosso Micalizzato 2005 Ferrari 575M Superamerica at 786,000 dollars, to name but a few.

“Ironically for the world’s greatest classic car celebration, it was the year of the modern supercar at this year’s collector car auctions in Monterey.”

Why are these cars in such strong demand at the moment? Younger buyers are certainly catalysts, but I also think the skyrocketing prices of today’s top-end hypercars – Gordon Murray’s T50 cost 25 buyers 4.1m dollars apiece! – is something to do with it. By comparison, an as-new F40 at 2.8m dollars suddenly seems like good value. I would say useability is a bigger factor as well moving into the post-pandemic era, but all the cars which earned top prices were delivery or very low mileage!

Elsewhere, strong sell-through rates across the board confirmed the current vibrance of the market, mimicking the general buoyant atmosphere on the ground. A special shout must go to the lucky new owner of the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B, who acquired it from Gooding’s sale on Saturday night for 5.615m dollars and exhibited it on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway on Sunday. That’s the way to do it.

Pebble Beach is still the best event in the world

It took but one brief glance at the entry list for this year’s Concours d’Elegance to see that Pebble Beach remains the most important classic car event in the world. The volume, breadth and quality are simply peerless. The roll call of top-tier collectors present showed that this is the jewel in the crown anybody who’s anybody in our world wants to show at and win. And it goes to show the power of the American market that, despite the absence of most of the Europeans, the event didn’t miss a beat. In fact, on the ground it felt no different from usual at all. For one blissful day, the misery of the past 18 months dissolved to nothing.

And ‘Car Week’ is one helluva supporting act…

The week of festivities preceding Pebble Beach has always been as interesting and enjoyable as the concours itself, but the sheer number of attractions and things to do in Monterey has grown exponentially in recent years. One minute you’re stood beside Laguna Seca’s world-famous Corkscrew watching thunderous Trans Am cars barreling down the hill, while the next you’re choosing your favourite modern-era Monza from the kaleidoscopic assembly of some 30 examples on the lawn at Casa Ferrari. Throw in various discussion forums, The Quail, the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance and the hilarious Concours d’Lemons. And that’s before you consider which auctions you’re going to hit. It’s flat-out and fantastic!

I’d love to win ‘Best of Show’ at Pebble Beach one day

We can all dream, right? In this, the Concours d’Elegance’s 70th year, 38 former ‘Best of Show’ winners returned to Pebble Beach for a bumper birthday celebration. Not only was the line-up of winners one of the most spectacular automotive sights I’ve ever witnessed, but it was also a visual timeline of how our hobby has changed and evolved over the years.

“The line-up of 38 former Pebble Beach ‘Best of Show’ winners was a visual timeline of how our hobby has evolved over the years.”

As Arturo Keller approached the rostrum in his fabulous 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier to deservedly claim this year’s ‘Best of Show’ and the confetti exploded, I was left thinking what an utterly brilliant and unforgettable experience it must have been to bring the car to Monterey, drive it on the Tour d’Elegance and top the week off by winning the most coveted prize in the classic car world. Let the search for an eligible candidate commence!

Photos: Ken Saito for Girardo & Co. / Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance / Rolex 

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