The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance is a premier luxury and classic car show in La Jolla, San Diego. It is one of the best shows in the nation, and as you’ll shortly find out, it’s an event like no other.
This isn’t your typical car show. The event is a “competition of elegance” where each automobile is rarer and more beautiful than the next. The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance showcases over 125 one-of-a-kind automobiles, and auto enthusiasts from all over the country come for this beautiful day in La Jolla.
iDriveSoCal’s Professor, Clinton Quan attends every year. In this podcast, the Professor takes us to Concours school and we try to keep it as classy as we can.
The 15th Annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance
Clinton Quan: This is my absolute favorite show in all of Southern California and this could be considered the Pebble Beach of the south, that’s how incredible this car show is. It’s a stunning setting along the La Jolla coastline and there are 130 gorgeous cars on display. Absolute works of art.
Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast. All about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. Tom Smith here with Clinton Quan, The Professor.
Professor: Hello, Tom!
Tom: When I point to you, that means to say something. Hello. 😊 This podcast is special because this is actually the second time in iDriveSoCal history that we’re covering the Professor Clinton Quan’s favorite automotive show, and that is the—did you say it’s the 15th annual?
Professor: The 15th Annual La Jolla Concours D’Elegance.
Tom: And I saw pictures of it—so last year, when we posted it on the website, we weren’t so big in pictures. It was more podcast and less kind of post and pictures. However, this time we’re going to have a ton of pictures. If you’re not listening on iDriveSoCal.com, definitely go there and check out the pictures. Additionally, if you have a chance go hit this show, because it is gorgeous. It’s a gorgeous setting. The cars are phenomenal.
Professor: Yes! Stunning setting.
You Don’t Need To Be a “Car Person”
Tom: And you almost don’t need to be a car person to go—you don’t need to be a car person to go and appreciate it.
Professor: No, you don’t.
“We’re just custodians of them while we’re here on this earth. However, the cars are going to live far beyond us…”
Tom: Because these cars are such high value that they’re literally works of art. One of the founders of the museum, I love his quote, it went—something to paraphrase— “They’re going to live on. We’re just custodians of them,” meaning these very high-value classic cars. “We’re just custodians of them while we’re here on this earth.” However, the cars are going to live far beyond us, right?
Tom: A lot of them already have. And that’s really cool. It’s a different way. And The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance not only has those cars there, but in a setting that is just breathtaking. I don’t want to steal your thunder; I know this is your favorite show. Take it away.
All About That Bugatti
“This is my absolute favorite show in all of Southern California.”
Professor: Yes, Tom, this is my absolute favorite show in all of Southern California and this could be considered the Pebble Beach of the south, that’s how incredible this car show is. As you mentioned, stunning setting along the La Jolla coastline at Ellen Browning Scripps Park and the weather was just fantastic this past weekend for the car show. In the ‘70s, blue skies, couldn’t ask for anything better, and 130 gorgeous cars on display. Absolute works of art. Additionally, everything from cars from the 1930s or earlier. Some of the most elegant automobiles, Bugattis, Duesenbergs—in fact, a 1930 Duesenberg did win the Best of Show—all the way up to modern sports cars.
Tom: And the Bugatti that caught my eye, and you have a couple of pictures of it, is that one with—I mean, you can’t even really see the tires with the fenders kind of come around it.
Professor: Yeah, the covers, yeah.
Tom: The Bugatti. I don’t know what is, the ‘20s or ‘30s or something.
Professor: I believe from the 1930s, yeah.
Tom: That thing looks like a flying car!
Professor: Yes, it does.
Elegance on Wheels
Tom: And it’s almost 100 years old!
Professor: Yeah, it’s amazing. It really is.
Tom: So, the whole concept of these things being works of art on wheels and works of art that are going to—I mean, shoot, that car’s already outlived lots of people!
“Look at a car like that, right? It’s elegance on wheels.”
Professor: Yes. For instance, that car right there is really what epitomizes a Concours d’Elegance. You look at a car like that, right? It’s elegance on wheels. That is really the definition of elegance on wheels.
Tom: From every angle.
Tom: And I mean, the value of that has to be hundreds of thousands, if not—I wouldn’t be surprised if it was multiple millions.
Professor: I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in the millions. A car like that, absolutely could easily be in the millions of dollars.
Tom: So, at a show like this, are you able to walk right up to those cars and kind of hang your head in and maybe take a picture of the cockpit area?
Works of Art at The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance
Tom: Or are they stanchioned off? Oh, really?
“You can really get up close to the cars and look inside the cars.”
Professor: Yeah. And that’s what’s so great about going to an event like this, a Concours d’Elegance, where you can really get up close to the cars and look inside the cars. Additionally, the owners, they love talking about their cars, so therefore, you can really get into a conversation with them and get all the details about the cars that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
“It’s like going to an art exhibit where the artist is there talking about their work.”
Tom: So in a sense, it’s like going to an art exhibit where the artist is there talking about their work.
Tom: However instead, it just happens to be somebody that’s really rich [laughs], right?
Tom: Or is taking care of a collection. For example, a curator of some sort, talking about the precious gem that he or she owns. Now, not everybody knows what a Concours is. If you’ve heard us talking about them in the past, then you do know. However, for those that don’t know what a Concours d’Elegance is, will you please—just real brief.
So, What is A Concours d’Elegance?
” A Concours d’Elegance, the term is French for a competition of elegance.”
Professor: Yes. A Concours d’Elegance, the term is French for a competition of elegance. Now, the original Concours d’Elegance, it was actually a fashion show where the cars were used as props. However, it today’s Concours d’Elegance, the cars are the stars and the owners of the vehicles, they’ll dress up in the same time period as their cars.
Tom: Okay. I just learned something new. I didn’t know that the original Concours d’Elegance, the cars were props.
Tom: Did that happen in France?
Professor: I don’t know the details of that, but I assume—
Tom: Next year, we’re going to need to know that.
Professor: Yes. [Laughs]
Tom: Or the next Concours. And it’s spelled with an S at the end, but it’s Concours, correct? Or is it Concours?
Professor: I believe it’s pronounced Concours d’Elegance, yeah, silent.
Tom: Competition of elegance.
Professor: Competition of elegance.
And the Award Goes To…
Tom: And there’s literally a competition. However, there’s not big cash, high-value prizes, but these are very nice trophies with extraordinary bragging rights, right?
Professor: Yes. Yeah, it literally is a competition. There is an awards ceremony that takes place. It runs for about two hours. And it takes place in the afternoon. So in the morning, they have a panel of judges for each of the different classes of vehicles. And, I believe for this one, there were—if I remember correctly—24 different classes of vehicles
Professor: But then they have all these specialty awards. I believe there was something like 15 specialty awards on top of that.
Tom: Anybody not get an award?
Professor: Oh, there’s a lot of cars that don’t get an award.
Tom: I’m kidding. [Laughs] I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Seeing It In Action
“You get to see the cars in motion as the owners drive the vehicles up to the staging area.”
Professor: What I love about going to a car show like this, is not only do you get to see the cars… Especially when you go in the morning, but then in the afternoon too. All of the award-winning cars, all the first-place winners. Additionally, you get to see the cars in motion as the owners drive the vehicles up to the staging area, where they get presented with their first-place award.
Tom: And the funny thing is, every now and then you get one of these cars that doesn’t start or needs to be pushed up, right?
Professor: Yes, every once in a while.
Tom: Multi-million-dollar car that just won an award [laughs] that needs to be pushed.
Professor: Usually there could be one or two cars. However, the majority of them, they’re all—
Tom: And they’re works of art. However, they’re still mechanical and some of them are very old, so you’re going to have that.
The Cost of La Jolla Concours d’Elegance
Tom: Now, there is a fee for these types of shows, correct?
Professor: Yes, correct.
Tom: And it’s not insignificant, right? It’s usually $50, 60, 75 tickets?
Professor: Yes. For this one, well, they had different levels, ticket-pricing levels, but also depending on when you purchased the tickets. For instance, if you purchased it way in advance, I believe the early bird pricing was around $60 or 65 for general admission. Then it went up to, I believe, $75 on the day of.
Professor: That’s for general admission. Additionally, there’s also the VIP.
Living The High Life at The La Jolla Concours D’Elegance
Tom: That’s where you get those fancy drinks that you got pictures of, right?
Professor: Yes. You get the open bar. In addition, you get all the nice drinks and you also get food from—there were about 15 restaurants from throughout San Diego. Some of the finer restaurants in San Diego.
Tom: It’s not In-N-Out Burger either.
Professor: No, you’re getting some really, really good food.
Tom: [Laughs] I’m kidding.
Professor: Filet mignon.
“It is a nice thing to do. Even if you’re not a car person, it is a really nice thing to do. And people get dressed up.”
Tom: It’s good food. It is a nice thing to do. Even if you’re not a car person, it is a really nice thing to do. And people get dressed up.
Dressed To The Nines
“It’s more of like, I would say a lifestyle event than just a car event.”
Professor: It’s more of like, I would say a lifestyle event than just a car event, yes.
Tom: Sure. People get dressed up. Speaking of getting dressed up… This being Professor Quan’s favorite show, you got to go to iDriveSoCal.com and check out the pics on this post. Because, you’ll see the Professor in his full Concours d’Elegance regalia, and it’s a sight, let me tell you.
Professor: Oh, Christian got so many compliments, on both days.
Tom: Yeah! The Professor’s son, the Associate Professor, has almost matching outfits and they look real cool together.
Professor: I like to dress up like my son.
Tom: Snappy! [Laughter] There you go. All right, well, what else about the La Jolla, 15th Annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance?
Meet The New Guys
“You get to see some of the newest vehicles out there.”
Professor: As I mentioned, just an incredible display of vehicles, about 130 vehicles. Additionally, what’s great about the show is there’s also a lot of new car dealers there. Therefore, you get to see some of the newest vehicles out there, including—there was a Ferrari 488 Pista, there was a Bugatti Chiron, Lincoln had their display of vehicles, Alfa Romeo.
Tom: Yeah, I’m sure they’re not selling Hondas and Toyotas to the folks that are displaying their cars.
Like, “Yeah, look at my $3 million Bugatti,” and this one dealer is like, “Dude, did you see the RAV4? Hey, it’s top of…”
Professor: I wouldn’t mind seeing the new Supra there.
Tom: Hey, I love Hondas and Toyotas, don’t get me wrong! However, if you’re displaying your $3 million Bugatti, you’re probably not a Honda Accord driver. Maybe, but…
Professor: You’d be surprised.
Tom: I know, I know, I know.
Professor: Those are their daily drivers.
Tom: Yeah, yeah, but, you know. They’re going to like go buy one of those in a dealerships, like toss their Amex Black Card and just run that and…
Tom: I honestly don’t know. I would love to know what it’s like to have a $3 million car and live the lifestyle that surrounds owning a $3 million car that I take to Concours d’Elegances.
Professor: One day, Tom.
Tom: One day. If I just do a bunch more podcasts [laughs], maybe one day! All right. Professor, thank you as always. Is there anything else? Are we good?
Professor: We’re good.
Heading Into Auto Season
Tom: All right. Make sure you check out the pictures on iDriveSoCal. Not only the Professor in his awesome outfit, but seriously, we’re going to have a bunch of pictures of really, really cool cars. Fine works of art, beautiful automobiles, and check these things out.
Plus, go to the iDriveSoCal events calendar for other upcoming Concours d’Elegance that are coming up in Southern California, as well as other auto shows that are coming up.
For instance, we have the Professor’s Awesome Auto Show June coming up, then not too long from now. Additionally, there’s the Spectacular September of Auto Shows, that will be later on this year. But we’re getting into that auto show season, aren’t we?
Professor: Yes, we are. It’s approaching.
Tom: Was there something else you wanted to say?
Don’t Miss Next Year’s La Jolla Concours d’Elegance
Professor: The date has been set for next year. However, it’s actually going to take place on the third Sunday, because next year, Easter is going to take place on April 12th.
Tom: You’re speaking of The La Jolla Concours D’Elegance.
Professor: Yes, The La Jolla Concours D’Elegance.
Tom: Which you already have on your calendar.
Professor: Oh, absolutely!
Professor: You don’t even need to ask, right?
Tom: I know. That’s a good thing.
Professor: The actual car show will be on the 19th. However, they have a full weekend of events. There’s a very lavish party that takes place on Friday night and Saturday night as well. Additionally, for this year, they had a sip, stroll and shopping event that took place on Saturday. And, that is also a really fun event where you can bring your kids. I brought Christian and you collect stickers and you can win prizes. So, that’s really, really cool as well.
Tom: And you can sip, stroll and shop.
Professor: Yeah. A lot of the art galleries, they’re serving wine or champaign.
Tom: It’s a nice weekend.
Professor: Yeah. It’s great to just spend the entire weekend down there in La Jolla. Lots of art galleries, restaurants. A great way to spend a beautiful weekend in the springtime in La Jolla.
Tom: There you have it.
Tom: Professor, are we good?
Professor: We’re good.
Tom: That’s the 15th Annual La Jolla Concours D’Elegance. Next year will be the 16th Annual Concours d’Elegance. We’ll have it on the iDriveSoCal calendar at iDriveSoCal.com. Thank you for listening, as always. For Tom Smith, this is iDriveSoCal. We’ll talk to you soon.