2009 Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance - Click above for high-res image gallery

Pebble Week in Monterey is always a terrific opportunity for lovers of classic cars to see some of the world's finest collectible vehicles up close and personal. Tickets to the big show on Sunday have gotten more expensive over the years, however, to cover costs and keep the crowds manageable. Fortunately, folks who want to check out the featured conveyances have a cheap alternative: The Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance.

The Pebble Tour features vehicles that are entered in Sunday's Concours driving along a predetermined 50-mile route from 17-Mile Drive down PCH to Big Sur before looping back to the Equestrian Center at Pebble Beach. The Tour is used as a sort of tie-breaker in the Concours judging on Sunday, but the real reason for its existence is to give fans a chance to see the competitors in motion. Follow the jump for the rest of the story and do yourself a favor and check out the massive gallery we've assembled.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips, Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

Anyone who wants to can park along the route and watch all morning long as millions of dollars worth of irreplaceable classics come whizzing, smoking, spitting and roaring by. All of your senses come into play when a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe (lead image) thunders past, just inches from your perch. Throw in a backdrop of the world's most scenic coastline and you can understand the appeal of this event. That's probably why hundreds of fans get up early to stake their spots along the route every year. Even non-human fans, like the deer and birds that sat with us along 17-Mile Drive.

One last benefit of attending the Tour is that we get a chance to preview the field and place some wagers on what might emerge as Best of Show in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. While that Bug is hard to resist, a case could certainly be made for a number of other cars. How about a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falschi Coupe (top, left)? Or a 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ2 Zagato Competition Berlinetta (top, right)? Any one of the more than two dozen featured Bentleys (bottom, left) might have a chance as well.

Our pick though is the incredible 1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet (bottom, right) owned by past Pebble winner, Robert M. Lee. It is the epitome of grand style, and immaculately turned out for this year's show. Keep your eyes open for our Pebble grand champion post on Sunday to see how we did. Until then, check out our massive gallery and let us know if you see something that you think might outshine that Horch.

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