Well, the first-ever Petersen Car Week presented by Michelin was a virtual success.
When all the car events that surround the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance were suddenly cancelled, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles decided to take all those events and put them online. And all the organizers of all the events went along. That included everything from Legends of the Autobahn and The Quail to a historical look back at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and a virtual Concorso Italiano.
Then on Sunday, yesterday, instead of a Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the 18th green in front of The Lodge, they held a Petersen Concours d’Elegance – online, using short video vignettes that hundreds of entrants had submitted, all of which were available to view at Petersen.org or on YouTube. There was even a Best of Show – local collector and organizer of the San Marino Motor Classic Aaron Weiss, whose 1937 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet took the top honor.
“Congratulations, you apparently won the Petersen Concours d’Elegance,” we told him by phone Sunday afternoon.
“Oh really?” Weiss said.
“You didn’t know that?
“Did you enter a 1937 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet?”
“Well it was named Best of Show.”
“Oh my God. That makes my day,” he said.
Yes, things are a little different this year. Normally there would have been fireworks, a drive up the green wooden ramp at Pebble, a band playing, and all those car-shaped metallic streamers shot into the air that probably go right into the gullets of sea otter babies lolling about on the rocks next to the golf course. But this year there was me and a mobile phone calling the winner. Hey, things are different, but no less fun. And it’s easier on the sea otters.
Weiss had shown the Horch at Pebble last year, where it won second in its class as well as the Elegance in Motion Award. Then he took it on tour.
“We took it to a CCCA (Classic Car Club of America) Grand Classic where it scored 100 points. It got its Primary Medallion because it had never been shown before. Then we took it to Amelia Island where it got another award, I want to say Timeless Elegance.”
There were plans to take it to other shows.
“We were going to take the car all over this year, to La Jolla and Hillsborogh and anywhere else that would have us, then everything got canceled.”
You may have heard.
“So we’re just sitting at home wiping the dust off of it.”
And then word came that the Petersen was doing an online Concours that would coincide with what would have been Pebble. So Weiss figured he’d enter the Horch. It was, after all, just sitting there.
And since he was also a judge in one of the classes, he had gotten to see a few entries, not in his class.
“I was looking at these videos and I thought, you know, I don’t know, having your wife hold the phone while you walk around the car talking is a little hokie.”
So Weiss did a slide show. Pretty nice slide show, too. Nice enough that it won. Well, the slide show and the car itself.
“We don’t know (who originally owned it before the war) but we do know that an American Army officer appropriated the car afterward.”
That officer took it home and kept it until 1994. After that it changed hands a few times on both sides of the Atlantic until Weiss bought it “three or four years ago” and did a complete restoration. And now here it is, first winner of the first – and maybe the last, who knows? – Petersen Concours.
Weiss even drives it.
“It’s just short of a five-liter straight eight. It beats any American car. I have a 540K. And if you took out the supercharger, it would be about an equivalent of that. It’s a heavy car, it runs smooth. It can be fast. You know, you can get up there, 75 miles an hour. It’s not a problem. It shifts well, it’s all synchromeshed. It’s a two-door, what we would call a Victoria. There’s a backseat if you (don’t have legs). But it’s a really strong car. I’ve had it on the freeway. We had it on The Tour d’Elegance at Pebble and on the Amelia Island tour. It doesn’t overheat, it runs smoothly, it doesn’t belch smoke or backfire, there’s always power, it’s easy to shift, steering is like a dream.”
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Not unlike the dream state we’ve all been in since March sometime. But we all have to give credit to the Petersen, and to its agency Kahn Media, for pulling all this together.
Right now, the links to all the car events are disabled on the Petersen.org website, but they’re going to hook them back up again. You can go to YouTube and search “Petersen Automotive Museum” and they’ll all pop up there and you can see more virtual car gatherings than you’ll likely find anywhere else gathered together under a single theme. In addition to all the car shows that make up the Monterey Car Week, there are many more included as sort of bonuses. There are Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival videos, a C8 walkaround, the reveal of a special edition of the Ford GT, a Malcolm Gladwell interview, and many more. Go check it out. You’re working from home, no one will know if you take a minute (or all day) to check out some videos.
So for now, see you this time next year at Pebble. Unless the Giant Squids attack.
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