Here’s what it takes to get a car ready for the Pebble Beach Concours

Only the best of the best are eligible for the world-famous show

Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.


The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the world’s top car shows, and it’s no wonder that a lot of preparation goes into getting the cars ready to stand on the grass.

A glimpse at that prep process is shown in a video uploaded by the Jay Leno’s Garage crew. In it, they put the finishing touches on a 1931 Duesenberg Model J with a LeBaron 4-door body — sometimes called an all-weather Phaeton — that will be competing in its first Pebble Beach Concours.

For a car to complete in the 68-year-old event, it must be pretty much in better condition than it was when brand new, as well original as possible.

“To even be considered, you must first submit an application requesting to be part of the show, then a selection committee vets the applicants to determine which cars will receive an invitation,” the host of the video said.

The qualification standards are very strict since only 200 or so cars make the cut out of the thousands that apply.

“Needless to say, just getting your car on the lawn at Pebble Beach is an accomplishment in and of itself,” the host said.

The Duesenberg was about 95 percent complete visually. There was some sanding haze and straight-line scratches that the crew was able to repair.

To do that, they had to determine which combination of polish and pad would work best. The car has a single-stage paint job, which means the color is applied in one step. Modern cars use a two-stage process.

Single-stage paint jobs are tough to work on because the material tends to be harder, the video says. The crew had to use its most aggressive setup to remove all of the scratches.

Once the repairs were made, a finishing polish, detailer and radiant – not wax – were applied.

“We chose radiant over wax because of the climate in Pebble Beach,” the host said. “It’s oftentimes dewy and overcast due to the proximity to the ocean. Wax can sometimes have a tendency to create condensation in those circumstances, and because of that, we chose to run with a sealant instead.”

A few more small touches, such as a final dressing, will be done the morning of the show to have the car looking as clean as possible.

The host finished by saying, “We started with something excellent and we think we stepped it up a notch.”

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1 Comment

  • Q Watsonq
    August 25, 2018, 4:36 PM

    My grandson Tucker Watson is at the event with the Tucker proto type. What a great experience.

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