Friday, August 21, 2009


I hadn't attended the mad extravaganza which is the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 8 years, as frankly, it has become simply too difficult to get at the hallowed golf course on the Sunday, as parking is restricted to miles away in Pacific Grove, with shuttle buses (a good idea) ferrying the 25,000 or so temporary pedestrians, who pay $150 for the privilege of milling around very expensive cars, and being unable to get a clear photograph of any of them in the sea of humanity.

There's another way to experience the whole Motor Week though, and sticking around from the Wednesday gave and entirely different impression of the place and the people attending. All different now, of course, with Motorcycle People to spice up the party, arriving from all over the globe, knocking a wedge into the crack suddenly formed in the Great Wall of collectible automobiles.
And I think we've finally done it.

Thursday morning featured the Concours Tour, in which vehicles competing for tinware on Sunday are strongly recommended to participate. A 70-mile loop around Carmel, ending up on Ocean Ave downtown, certainly didn't include all of the cars or motorcycles, but enough of both turned up and drove to make for a hell of a show. Yes, lots of Morgans (featured marque this year), Bentleys, Ferraris, Lambos, etc, but threaded among the quadripeds were three motorcycles; Pete Young's 1913 Premier (which made the route trouble-free, thank you), a 1929 Scott Flying Squirrel, and.... Rollie Free's 'bathing suit' Vincent record-breaker, ridden by none other than Alain deCadenet. Not, for better or worse, in his Speedo!

The Vincent was sans seat, as per Rollie's attempt, but a small pad was added on the rear mudguard for Alain's 'comfort' - the handlebars are only about 18" wide, the bike runs on straight pipes, is set up for speed, and surely, comfort was seriously lacking on those long 70 miles. Kudos to Alain for being the consumate professional he is, and not complaining once about the ride. The necessity of starter rollers to fire up the record-breaker meant that Stalling was Not An Option - so he didn't.

In fact, Alain was most complimentary about the Free bike, saying 'it's the smoothest Vincent I've ever ridden, and the most mechanically well sorted. Everything - clutch, gearbox, motor - functions beautifully'. High praise indeed from a long-term Vincent owner, recently stretched over the beast for 2 hours!

Also making an appearance, but not a ride, Thursday morning was 'Gunga Din', George Brown's famous Vincent racer, dripping fresh from a full restoration to 'as last raced' condition. A very sympathetic hand brought the machine back to life; the workmanship was excellent and fastidious, without being showy or over-done. Such attention paid off on Sunday.

The MidAmerica Auctions tent was hopping with visitors for four days, and of course, the 'motorcycle people' could often be found lingering, looking over the bikes, and checking out the brilliant Brough Superior display. One such was Jay Leno, whom I've met many times via his mechanic John Pera. Jay made a beeline for the black and gold display plinths - he's a big Brough Superior fan, and has, I think, 9 examples, being photographed for many years riding his big Matchless-engined SS100 to the Rock Store.

Jay stuck around to film a segment for his new TV show (having retired from the Tonight Show, he's concentrating his efforts on vehicles), featuring the two just-completed Brough Superior SS101 models.

American B-S importer Bryan Bossier designed, built, and hauled the Brough display from Louisiana, and carried 5 of his personal Broughs to show alongside the new machines. His 1925 SS100 was entered in the Concours on Sunday, but could often be seen outside the MidAmerica tent, after a ride. Nice work if you can get it...

Thursday evening featured a street party at the Baja Cantina, adjacent to the Quail Lodge property - where one could drive in their show car or hot rod, and mill around with a drink in hand, meeting other owners or the thousand gearheads who had assembled for a good time. A band on the patio, BBQ on the lawn, and super-casual atmosphere made for a great rev-up for the weekend events.


Anonymous said...

a rumor going around the net is that alan , d, was passed over by a low flying aircraft and dropped the bike , with the comment " fuck me again"?

vintagent said...

Dave, if you're going to reference my favorite youtube video of Alain, give the url! Here it is:

retouching said...

Nice series of vintage car photographs. Interesting photo blog.

Anonymous said...

a all time classic tape of kool and collected alain i,m sure he loves you for posting it lol dave

Anonymous said...

paul thank you for your site.its do i know?well i have had bikes
since 1949.a 1930 vincent hrd with a 500 racing JOR J.A.P.wish i had it now.the
then secretary of the vintage club saw me outside a motorcycle shop.thats a
vintage it says i .you should join the vintage club said he,i
thing i ever did,meeting brooklands stars and many wise men.had my first race on
a longstroke sunbeam at silverstone saturday 1953.and went on from there.manx
grand prix T.T.etc.but i have digressed .panther. here a pic of my 1939 delux
twin headlamp 1939 m100 600cc.just finished well nearly.wait for it after 45
years.bought it off the first owner for £15.with a broken gearbox.(it had fallen
over in the garage and pushed the kickstart into the casing).at 77 i better not
take on any more do you think? have many nice days.john h
aylesbury (nr

R.Dress said...

I love how Jay Leno is always dressed in a NJ Tux when ever he's around cars and bikes.

Anonymous said...

R.Dress: classic! I hadn't heard it called an NJ tux before. And yer right, it is like a uniform for that guy.

Bima Bima said...

i like this