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How are cars judged at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance?

In Advance of Monterey Car Week: Insights into the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Judging Process

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WOODBURY, Conn./PRNewswire/ -- Monterey Car Week's most well-known and prestigious event – scheduled this year for Sunday, August 18th – is the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where the finest classic automobiles from around the world are judged and recognized for their style and technical merit, as well as their history, originality, and accuracy of their preservation or restoration.

Most serious automotive enthusiasts who attend or closely follow the Concours are well aware of the elaborate preparation and strict protocol involved in how the cars are selected, judged and chosen for "Best in Class" awards, and the single "Best of Show" designation. Casual observers, however, often lack insight into what takes place behind the scenes at the Concours, which celebrates its 69th year in 2019.

According to Mitch Katz, who has attended the Concours many times over the past 20 years, "The hard work, discipline and logistics required to produce this special event never fails to impress me. Even if you don't own a classic car, you can appreciate and enjoy the spectacle that takes place on this one Sunday in August each year." Katz is founder and CEO of Premier Financial Services, a provider of lease financing for exotic, vintage and luxury cars.

To increase the public's understanding of the Concours, Premier asked some of the world's most respected classic car authorities – including Paul Russell, a leading expert in car restoration, and Sandra Button, who has served as Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance since 2002 – to share a few related facts they think people should know.

Here are the insights they provided:

  • Very Few Cars are Invited to Compete – The entire Concours field is limited to around 200 cars that are categorized in 28 – 30 distinct classes; with only 8 or 9 cars competing within each class. For some classes, as many as 100 cars may apply for one of those 8 or 9 openings. An invitation for a car to participate in the Concours – regardless of whatever awards it may receive – is considered a prestigious honor in the automotive world.
  • Cars that Fit the Concours' Theme May Fare Better – Each year, the Concours builds its program around themes and anniversaries for specific marques and special car classes. The 2019 Concours, for example, will celebrate the centennials of the Bentley and Zagato marques, and feature Bugatti race and touring cars. Those particular cars may enjoy better odds that their application to participate in the Concours will be accepted.
  • "Authenticity" is the Most Important Factor – Authenticity, as defined by the judges in each class, involves how well a car has been restored to reflect its original condition when it left the showroom. (This differs from "preserved" cars, that have been well cared for, but not restored in any way.) One risk for entrants, however, involves over-restoration of their car, for which points will be deducted.
  • Judges Do SeriousHomework in Advance – There are around 100 technical judges who are recognized as the world's most knowledgeable authorities in the various car classes. Long before they arrive at Pebble Beach, technical judges prepare by studying the photographs, research data and historic documentation for each one of the cars they will inspect in person during the Concours.
  • Judges Must Disclose Any Potential Conflicts – Many of the judges are involved in some aspect of the automotive business. To ensure complete transparency, and to avoid any compromise to the integrity of the Concours judging process, each judge is required to disclose to fellow judges any possible conflict of interest. Based on that information, the chief judges take whatever steps may be required to eliminate any risk of bias.
  • Selected Cars Rarely Compete More Than Once – In fact, no car is allowed to compete in the Concours more than one time per decade, and only the most extraordinary cars ever make more than one appearance. This ensures that Concours attendees not only see the world's best cars; they also see cars they've likely never seen before, that may have been in a private collection or a museum.
  • Cars Must First Compete by Class on Technical Merit – All cars are initially judged within each class, and awarded 100 points at the outset, with points deducted for any flaws or shortcomings. Every judge must describe the specific flaw each time he deducts a point. Each one of the judges spends an equal amount of time (around 20 minutes) closely examining every car in their class, and all of the judges must agree on which cars are awarded the First, Second and Third in Class designations.
  • A Car's Story (or "Provenance") is Important – A car's ownership history, or an interesting backstory, can increase its stature with judges, and result in extra points being awarded in its class competition. A car's provenance – whether it was originally owned by a beloved Hollywood movie star, or it sat under a tarp in an Iowa barn for 75 years – not only helps to validate its authenticity, but also provides a human and historical dimension that makes it more than a machine.
  • The Best of Show Car Must Have a "Wow" Factor – All of the 28 – 30 First in Class winners are eligible to compete for the Concours' Best of Show designation, which is awarded to a single car. Class point scores no longer matter at this culmination of the Concours, as a panel of experienced senior judges – who are different from the 100 technical judges – vote for the single car that they feel is the most magnificent example of automotive excellence in the field on that particular day. Their single task is to select the one car that, according to Concours Chairman Sandra Button, "Makes their heart sing." She points out that winning the Concours' Best of Show often represents achievement of a life-long goal.
  • Anyone Can Attend...But It's a Pricey (and Charitable) Event – If you purchase a ticket to walk the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday to see the cars in person, it will cost $450. Much of the money that's raised, however, is donated to local youth focused non-profit educational programs. Last year alone, the Concours raised $2.1 million, and since its founding the event has raised $27 million for charitable giving.

About Premier Financial Services, LLC

Since its founding in 1997, Premier Financial Services has been a recognized leader in providing leases for the purchase of exotic, vintage and highline motorcars. The company is dedicated exclusively to innovative, customized leasing arrangements for clients who seek the flexibility of financing with the tax advantages of leasing. Premier's success is based on delivering the industry's highest levels of customer service. Learn more at

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Car auction bidders planning to attend any one of this year's Pebble Beach auctions are invited to apply for lease financing approval in advance, either online at, or by calling (877) 973-7700. Premier is a proud sponsor to two Monterey Car Week events: the Malibu to Monterey Fuel Run rally on August 14th, and the Exotics on Broadway showcase on August 17th.

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