A Gallery of Swellery: Pebble Beach Edition

Jamie Lincoln Kitman

Jamie Lincoln Kitman | Aug 24, 2015

Here at Car Talk, we’ve long admired the work of California-based photographer George Saitas. Born in New York to Greek immigrant parents, Saitas would risk the ire of his headwaiter father (they’d patch things up) by dropping out of medical school to pursue a career photographing cars. Of all things, we might add, because Saitas isn’t particularly a gear head, just a lover of people and the mechanical art forms they create. The detachment doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t show, frankly, as this sampling of Saitas’ work from this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance reveals. An international celebration of automobiles and unspeakable wealth, we told you about Pebble Beach last year. This time we’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Find more of Saitas’ work at http://www.georgesaitas.com

Traveling to Pebble (George Saitas)

Once they’ve been treated to restorations that might cost anywhere from $250,000 to over $2 million, invited show cars make their way to the lawn at Pebble Beach in semi-rigs that might cost a million dollars or more themselves. Top transport drivers with the kid glove touch are chosen with the care with which one might in another context choose a heart surgeon. Here, a 1929 Packard 626 Deluxe Eight Rollston Roadster breaks cover before sunrise, following a long trip in an enclosed carrier from Dallas. The only known survivor of a mere 645 built, it cost more than $12,000 when new – back when a Model A cost $600.

More cars roll in. (George Saitas)

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350 of 1965, the first of several production collaborations between the Ford Motor Company and Shelby American, the California works established in the mid-60s by Carroll Shelby. So successful was that first venture that the name of the only recently deceased Texas chicken farmer turned race car driver and roguish entrepreneur continues to grace a version of the latest Mustang.

One of nature's most breathtaking spectacles--wild ponies crossing the road at dusk. (George Saitas)

That first GT350 is particularly well represented on the lawn at Pebble this summer, with eight in attendance, including one belonging to racing great Bobby Rahal. Here we see a couple of examples shortly after arriving, along with a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider Pinin Farina, first purchased by the Dominican gentleman racer and ladies’ man of Guinness Book proportions, Porfirio Rubirosa. It was recently treated to a full restoration by Ferrari’s in-house Classiche Department in Maranello, Italy. You can be certain that wasn’t cheap.

Smoking may kill you, but it makes for some nice shots! (George Saitas)

There’s a lot of smoking machinery to be seen at Pebble, but early risers on Pebble Beach show day were treated to the smokingest of them all, a majestic 1953 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta, bodied by Italian coachbuilder Vignale, unexpectedly turned fog machine, with a rather noticeable cooling system malfunction. In its day, it competed twice in the prestigious and grueling Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico with legendary American drivers Phil Hill and Richie Ginther sharing the wheel, though it failed to finish both times. Not, we hope, because overheating toasted its biscuits. Still, one early morning in August 2015, it still made it to its designated spot on collectordom’s most celebrated lawn.

(George Saitas)

The hoi-polloi may only rarely find their way onto the lawn at Pebble with their lesser collector cars, but anyone who can make it to the 17 Mile Drive and can afford a ticket to the proceedings can immerse themselves in the high-end car collector lifestyle for a day.

That's some hat! (George Saitas)

In theory, you can dress however you like, but if you keep Gilligan’s Island’s Thurston Howell and his wife, Lovey, in mind when selecting your wardrobe, you and your companion should fit right in.

Prize-winning specimen. (George Saitas)

The car that put Porsche on racing’s map, the model in which the young actor James Dean lost his life in an accident on a rural California highway, the Porsche 550RS Spyder remains a font of minimalism and aching beauty as well as an expression of the then youthful art of aerodynamics, this pristine example first saw racing duty in Switzerland. Not sure where that wing came from though.

Beauty contest winner. (George Saitas)

Who doesn’t love the French? Winner of this year’s Pebble Beach Concours’ Most Elegant Convertible competition, this 1937 Delahaye 145 V12 Grand Prix Cabriolet, bodied by Parisian coachbuilder Franay, sums up the sumptuous, sensual opulence of the French industry at its most, between the wars over the top. Driven by the famous French racedriver René Dreyfus (a relation of the famous army officer), it won a million franc prize for breaking speed records when new, before going into hiding in WWII, subsequently being broken for parts before its rescue and extensive restoration, beginning in 1987, by Peter Mullins, Francophile founder of California’s excellent Mullins Museum. It’s still driven in anger, on occasion, but with looks like this, its ultimate fate -- as a once and future beauty contest winner and gentle boulevardier -- was inevitable.

Break out the confetti. (George Saitas)

Among 220 entrants, only one could win Best of Show. An Italian car with a gargantuan 8.0-liter V8, and imposing coachwork created in 1931 by Carrosserie Worblaufen, this 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 Cabriolet debuted at 1932 Geneva Motor Show and has had only four owners from new. Founded in Milan in 1900, its maker was named after its founders Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini. Known for building some of the most luxurious and technically engaging cars of the 1920s, Isotta-Fraschini was hit hard by the Great Depression and stopped producing cars entirely after the Second World War, though truck, bus and engine manufacture, allowed it to limp through till 1999, when it went bust. For almost in everyone in attendance, the hard times are forgotten as this luxurious behemoth drove up to the reviewing stand, to collect Pebble Beach’s most coveted award.

"I say, who is your haberdasher?" (George Saitas)

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