I was standing in the back of a 1909 Pierce-Arrow getting my picture taken with Jay Leno sitting at the wheel, all the while thinking: Only at Pebble Beach!
As a first-time entrant in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with the Pierce-Arrow owned by my Dad, Monterey car week was much more than a brush with fame but a time filled with good friends, wonderful vistas, and of course, fantastic cars. With my father and my son, we formed three generations of car guys with the opportunity to check a big one off the bucket list.
I was polishing the brass on the Pierce-Arrow in preparation for the next day’s Concours when Larry, our driver from Intercity transporters, said, “Jay Leno’s here in the paddock. You should go up and say hello.” So that’s what I did. Jay was truly a pleasure and seemed genuinely interested in the Pierce. All of the cars, too, for that matter.
The car we brought to Pebble was Dad’s 1909 Pierce-Arrow, model 36UU five-passenger touring. Twenty-five years ago, Dad was fortunate enough to be offered the car from the family that had owned it since 1919.
Back in the day, it was just a used car that the family had taken to their New Hampshire farm, removed the body, and used as a farm truck. Thankfully, they reunited the car with its original body in 1934 and put it in their barn. A restoration was started in 1962, and today the car is as it was when restored some 50 years ago.
Although not a show car, it’s one of about a dozen 1909 Pierce-Arrows that remain, and the only 1909 model 36UU five-passenger touring thought to survive. Naturally, we were excited to have had it accepted for Pebble Beach.
The week unfolded with each day trumping the previous, all culminating with the Concours. Sunday brought an early start. We were not alone; the paddock was packed as more than 200 entrants prepared to roll out. The car was already off the truck when we arrived and we made preparations to drive it over for display – turn on the gas, put up the top, wipe the car down, and check the paperwork.
It was pure pleasure having the whole family ride in it together, and even though we were among the first dozen or so cars to drive onto the golf course, the crowd had already lined the 18th Fairway to watch us drive on. As soon as we parked, my son Nathan ran off with the stated goal of taking a picture of each and every car in the Concours – it would be over an hour before I saw him again.
Our spot on the field was ideal and we met our neighbors: a stunning American Underslung from the Off Brothers Collection in Michigan and another Pierce-Arrow, this one originally owned by Milton Hershey of Hershey chocolate fame.
Dad beamed with pride the entire day as he fielded questions about his car; we were both amazed at how many people came up to ask about the Pierce. Eventually, I made my way around to see most of the other cars. For me, the steam-car display and the Ruxton featured class were among the favorites. But let’s face it, everything is worth a look at Pebble Beach. Plus, I got to meet some of you blog readers who came by to say hello.
I had been to Pebble Beach in the past, but what made this trip so special was actually being part of it and sharing the experience with my family. Now that it’s all over, the entire experience is still a bit of a blur, but the thrill hasn’t worn off. The Concours day seems to go by so quickly and you feel as though you didn’t get a chance to visit with everyone. Regardless, it’s a memory we’ll all cherish.