The 15th annual La Jolla Concours D’Elegance was last weekend, April 14th, and I was lucky enough to attend yet another year as part of the local press and media coverage.
Like past years, this show has a LOT going for it.
- The weather is amazing. You’re in La Jolla (San Diego) in early spring, and which means 70 and sunny. Compare this to Pebble Beach (cold, wet) or just about any major Concours and it’s a clear winner on weather.
- The location is equally as awesome. I’m probably biased as a native San Diegan, but I think the backdrop and scenery rivals Amelia Island or Pebble Beach, if not exceeds.
- Last but not least, unlike Pebble or Amelia, it’s not nearly as crowded or expensive. Tickets are under $100 (compare to thousands for Pebble), and the crowds are super manageable. It’s easy, laid-back, and fun, just as “America’s Finest City” is known for.
And while it doesn’t have the thousands of cars that a Pebble Beach or Amelia Island show will, it makes up for that in quality. There are roughly 130 cars registered for the show, and each year there is a different featured marque and incredible diversity from the previous year, despite the large amount of SoCal and San Diego locals who bring their cars.
In short, it’s the goldilocks of car shows – still small enough to not be crowded, but big enough to have awesome cars.
This year the featured marque was Cadillac, along with a “100 years of Bentley” display that probably drew a little attention away, especially given the sad current state of Cadillac vis a vis Bentley.
But still, the Cadillacs of yesterday were indeed something worth seeking out, with amazing, long lines, huge chrome grilles, and their trademark fins in the rear. Far from rebadged GM/Chevy products, Cadillac used to mean something, and it’s a darn shame that is no longer the case.
Cadillac did make it onto the podium as well for Most Outstanding Pre-War (1931 Cadillac V-16), the Historical Preservation Award (’55 Fleetwood), and of course the Cadillac specific judging categories of which you had to have a Cadillac to qualify 😉
Speaking of winners, the car that won the Best in Show is this super unique 1935 Duesenberg with orange trim. What a stunner!
You can check out the rest of the winners at this link, but here were a few of my favorite that I took shots of:
But of course, a show is much more than only it’s winners, and taste is subjective anyway.
Like any true Concours event, the judges are meticulous in their review of each car, not looking for what “looks coolest” or will get the most likes on Insta, but instead pouring over every nook and cranny to make sure everything still functions as new, no details overlooked, and full restorations were done that cut no corners.
It’s crazy to think that there are 100+ year old cars that are better taken care of than 100 day old cars, but that’s the difference between having a passion or not.
In fact, there was plenty of passion at the show, no matter what you were into. From the local Porsche Club of America bringing a fleet of member cars, to the Ferrari club, muscle cars, towncars, survivors, restomods, kit cars, and so-on, there was something for everyone…
It’s always hard to boil-down to favorites in a show so diverse, but that’s the beautiful of it all. Seeing so many different styles of cars next to each other teaches you about what is different, but more so what is the same, between generations.
While we might all be driving autonomous electric vehicles in another decade or two, I think the car culture will find a way to live on.
In fact, we’re seeing that transformation happen before us with cars like the new Ford GT, mixing old school looks with new school technology, bringing us the best of both worlds.
Ford isn’t the only one mixing old and new, with Guntherworks bringing a pair of their 993 Porsche masterpieces on display.
These cars may look like modified 911s, but they are completely re-engineered and have set a slew of records thanks to a near perfect weight distribution.
Not only do they have old school looks and new school technology, but because they’re all hand made, you can also go completely custom with finishing options such as this customer car done in gloss carbon fiber:
Other new school favorites were present from all of the usual suspects, and gave well-heeled attendees some ideas on what they might want to add to their stable next.
A big thanks goes out to the judges and volunteers who make this show happen each year, and seem to somehow make each year just a little better than the last. It’s no doubt a highlight for me, and a gem for locals and out of towners alike.
You can check out more of my La Jolla Concours pictures on Flickr, and I’ve included a handful more of my favorites in the rest of this post.