23rd annual Rodeo Drive concours d’elegance

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Details: 1955 Chevrolet 'kustom'
2011 Bugatti Veyron L’Orque Blanc at the Beverly Wilshire | Larry Crane photos

Rodeo Drive is not the land of cowboy Cadillacs (it’s not that rodeo), nor is it the land of wild horses — no wait — it is indeed the land of very, very wild horses and vast numbers of equestrian pretense — think 600 horses and a carriage for two. The glorious tabernacles of the deities of conspicuous consumption line the boulevard and enrich the view of palm-shaded artifacts from the automotive century.

The grand classics are rare and sports cars rule the available space. New cars like McLaren and Bugatti hold places of honor, but the majority of hardware is the fantasies of persons who graduated from high school during the heart of the last century. In fact, they are the majority of the artfully coifed and beach-tailored audience.

Curiously, most appear to be able to attain one of the treasures on display, though the event is free. Even the covered Beverly Hills parking is free — a Sunday is a Sunday and it’s always free.

One wonders why the legendary street filled with the finest in motoring icons is not packed to pedestrian-gridlock with L.A.’s famous car people. The Prancing Horse contingent can be relied upon to appear anywhere their favorites are on display, and will enjoy seeing the cross-town rivals from the reborn Maserati, but even their numbers were small.

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It might have been the 105-degree temperature, or the fact that many of the collected treasures from any vintage are seen on the street almost daily in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

Photography by Larry Crane

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Larry Crane has been an automotive literature aficionado from childhood. Car books and magazines represented most of his reading experience. He moved to Southern California in his early twenties to be close to his favorite cars. After a WestPac stint in the Navy, he was offered a position redesigning Motor Trend magazine. Then, for Steve Earle, he created America's first vintage road racing magazine as both editor and designer. FromVintage Racer he joined Road & Track and then David E. Davis Jr., asked him to help create a new kind of car magazine, Automobile. After 12 years, Crane took his family back to Los Angeles to create his dream magazine, AUTO Aficionado, which attracted an impressive cadre of the most influential members of the collector car hobby until the national economy made that one impossible to continue.