Take the Cartier Style et Luxe lawn at FoS. Now add dozens of similar exotic show-stopping cars; some 100-point concours contenders, others wearing a patina which would be sacrilegious to remove, but all of them fastidiously maintained, presented and ready to be gazed-at and judged. Now imagine that most of them are full of people and they all drive off at 8:30am and go for a 100-mile drive including two laps of Laguna Seca, a stop for breakfast and another for lunch; most of the journey dampened by the fine mist blowing in off the Pacific. That’s the Tour d’Elegance.
Our seat in this extraordinary annual event came courtesy of renowned car collector Jeff Lotman in his JD Classics-restored Jaguar SS100, although once upon a time this Los Angeles resident and native was a milkman in Hull. True story! His collection includes a Ferrari 275 GTB and a BMW 508 amongst others, but Jeff is a Jaguar man first and foremost and his SS has the greatest competition history of all of them.
Today however, the SS100 was on road duty and a drive south on California State Route 1 through Big Sur. It kicked-off with a short drive to Laguna Seca for a couple of laps followed by a spot of breakfast before the epic drive down the misty, winding coastline south of Monterey. After about 30 unforgettable miles hugging the beautiful coastline the tour turned around and headed back to Ocean Avenue in Carmel, the cars were all parked on the street for a couple of manic hours where the public got to get up close, and the participants indulged in a rather splendid buffet lunch to the accompaniment of a string quartet no-less!
The scene was incredible. Here was a large selection of exquisite machinery wearing the results of a spirited drive in damp conditions, parked-up in the middle of a charming Californian coastal town and surrounded by hundreds of people. To pick out highlights is simply impossible, but I’ll give it a shot once I get to see the whole lot assembled at Pebble Beach (without the crowds!) on Sunday. For now, enjoy this gallery of just a sample of the magical cars brought together for the tour.