Friday, August 17, 2012

retro concept cars at concours d'elegance pebble beach

Concours d'Elegance 2008. 1956 Buick Centurion
1958 Buick Centurion

If you're really into cars, this weekend is a big one. The annual Concours d'Elegance is held in Pebble Beach, California this Sunday, rounding out a week full of auto shows and races held up and down the central coast of California. If you're in the Monterey area right now, you're probably tripping over Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and other crazy car brands that you've maybe never heard of before. I know this, firstly, because I grew up in Monterey County, and second, because I had the pleasure of working at the Concours event in 2008 and 2009 (and sitting in the resulting traffic on Highway 1 surrounded by car movers that were bigger than my apartment).

Concours d'Elegance 2008, Pebble Beach, CA
1958 Oldsmobile F-88 Roadster. Also the poster car for the event that year.

So, back in 2008, I was working as a Concours barista at the Pebble Beach Resort. If you're not familiar with the event, it's an antique auto show, in the style of the classic French auto shows. The world's best examples of classic, rare autos are showcased and people come from literally all over to show off their rides and rub elbows with other auto enthusiasts (or just sip champagne and show off their outfits). I was working one of the set-up days before the actual show, finished up my shift, and had a chance to take a walk around and see the exhibits. I made a bee-line to this area and saw some of the coolest cars ever.

Rotating platform with a rocket car

I'm sure many of us have seen photos of these concept "cars of the future" from the 50's and 60's. The atomic age was a time when Americans were really looking ahead, in an excited and positive way. There were space missions and technology innovations that really stimulated the imagination of designers. It was a creative age for all industries, from home appliances to automobiles. Everyone wanted to get a piece of this futuristic sensation. These particular models never went into production, but were used as promotional pieces for the touring auto groups.

Concours d'Elegance 2008. 1958 Firebird III
1958 Firebird III
Headlight, or ray gun?

Let's drool over some insane interiors, shall we?

Great knobs and gears.
Concours d'Elegance, 2008. Buick Interior
Interior of the Buick Centurion, above. Secret mission instructions pop up on that little screen.
Glass bubble roof and crazy steering wheel! No 10 and 2 for this driver!

And speaking of touring auto shows, this beast, the GM Futurliner was used in the "Parade of Progress" - a touring group showcasing cars and innovation. Wikipedia says the Futurliners featured modern amenities, like jet engines, televisions, and microwave ovens. Only 12 were ever built, and there were only a reported 9 of them left in existence as of 2007.

GM parade of progress futurliner at pebble beach concours d'elegance 2008
The side panel opens down and the little door in the front opens to a staircase to the drivers seat.

Needless to say, it was very exciting to be able to see some of these cool one of a kind cars in real life. There weren't even any crowds! Just me and the guy in the sweater.

If you'd like to see a few more of my photos, check out my Flickr album. You'll see some cool modern cars, too. 

*all photos copyright Casey Starks and Vitamini Handmade


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