Admittedly, the run up to 29th July was somewhat tense. This was the day our client’s award-winning Jaguar SS100 would leave Wycke Hill for the packers to be crated for the journey to the USA and the 59th Pebble Beach Concours. By now, the gravity of the challenge that lay ahead had truly hit home. Getting a car we’d restored accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious celebrations of classic showcars was one thing; getting it competitive against what was sure to be amazingly stiff competition was another, given the demanding entry criteria and exacting judges. As time ticked by, the more we looked at the car, the more we wondered if we could improve on some things.
But there comes a point when you have to say this is our best effort and it’s time to go. So with the car at the packers being cosseted for the long flight to Los Angeles, we carried on with those last minute bits-and-pieces that always go hand in hand with these projects (like making sure our tool kit is fully stocked with every gizmo and spare part we might need) and determined to concentrate on what we’d achieved, rather than what might have been had we had just a bit more time…
Eventually, a week before the big day, our crew took flight to San Francisco. Next came a couple of hours’ or so drive to our base camp (about 130 miles away from the airport) to be reunited with the car that had been trailed up from LA.Base camp itself was in quirky Castroville, a small, quiet town in Monterey County. The town is said to be the artichoke capital of the world, as the county produces all of the edible thistle grown commercially across America! About 20 miles from Pebble Beach and with a population of under 7,000, Castroville proved to be the ideal location to get the car primed and ready for the first part of the concours – namely, the Tour d’Elegance.
This is a tour along approximately 75 miles of some stunning California countryside and winds along a section of California’s breathtakingly scenic state route, the renowned Highway One. Then at Carmel-by-the-Sea, the cars break rank, where they’re paraded along Carmel’s Ocean Avenue, and then return to Collins Polo Field in Pebble Beach.
Forest fires spark cleaning frenzy
Thankfully, the SS100 performed as perfectly as planned and was much admired by the large crowds along the route and at Carmel, owner Robin Green took the wheel alongside his partner Alison and enjoyed the tour immensely. Our team were a little less enthusiastic, though as the run left us with a lot of cleaning and preparation to do. A swarm of large, unseasonal forest fires in August blazing in the distance left the SS100 covered in smut and ash deposits. Nevertheless, the positive start left the mood much more relaxed for both owner and crew.
After a rash of buffing and preening, our pride and joy sat on her show wheels and looked stunning. The car was then ready to move down to the garage we’d organised, close to the fabled 18th fairway at the Pebble Beach Golf Club. This is where the weekend’s crowning centrepiece, the Concours d’Elegance, was scheduled to take place outdoors.
As the morning mist cleared from the Pacific, CKV 666 was carefully rolled onto the hallowed turf. Immediately, you could feel the tension rising again. Then came final preparation, such as laying out the tool kit and weather equipment, a final buff of the tyres and alignment of the wheel spinners.
Then all our client and crew could do was wait for the judges.
When they finally approached, they asked to hear our open sportscar’s engine. She obliged with the slightest push of the starter button and sat there purring contentedly like the aristocratic big cat that she is. The waiting seemed like hours. Then we heard we were in the final three…
How far could we progress now? More wondering. More waiting. As they do not call up cars in any particular order we still didn’t know where we stood when the judges left only a majestic-looking 1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A SS Castagna Cabriolet and our SS100 in the running.
And the winner is…
Then it happened. Following barely bearable tension, Chassis #2 – one of the world’s oldest surviving 3.5 litre SS100s – was judged first in Class J-1, European Classic Open! Not only that, but she was one of a few 100-point winners in the competition. In other words, she didn't drop a single point.
As far as the judges were concerned, we'd hit perfection.
By any measure, this is a phenomenal achievement. And the feeling of accomplishment was truly amazing, too. All that hard work had been more than worth it; going right back to the early winter of 2006 when the project began and through all the times when problems had to be resolved, research conducted and triple-checked, and all the while improving the fit and finish of the most obscure item on the car.
The smiles and relief on Robin and Alison’s faces as they drove up the presentation ramp told everyone how they felt. Their dreams had come true: they were driving a Pebble Beach-winning car.
And JD Classics had the awesome privilege of making it happen.
Can we beat this achievement? It’s hard to say. But a new top-class restoration is already underway on another famous car. And as we’re always striving to produce some of the world’s very best restorations, we’re going to give it a very good go!