Each location that hosts a concours event decides their own criteria when it comes to which cars to allow, how many can compete and what classes the cars will compete in. In addition, each concours may have a separate tribute or emphasis for that year's competition. For example, the 2009 Pebble Beach concours featured Bugatti and Bentley as the chosen featured marques and emphasized a celebration of Audi, Morgan, Packard, Ferrari and even Zagato style. Of course, competition isn't limited to those select few marques -- other cars were able to compete, too.
As you already know, contestants and their cars can only enter a concours event if they are invited to do so, but they can submit forms requesting that they be invited in upcoming years. Potential contestants can be invited only after they've submitted several detailed photos of their cars, and in some cases, any interesting story about the car's history. One of the main differences of a Concours d'Elegance show compared to other car shows is that once a car has been in the competition, it cannot return again to compete for up to 10 years [source: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance]. The only variation to this Pebble Beach concours rule is if the car has recently changed ownership or if it was newly restored beyond the level it was when it initially competed.
Each Concours d'Elegance features a wide range of cars, and the Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook and Amelia Island shows each have anywhere from 150 to 250 cars competing for the top honor. Every car accepted into the show fits into a specific category, or marque, for competition. Some of the categories may include post-war, pre-war, antique and vintage, horseless carriages, convertibles, Duesenberg, Porsche, Bentley and so on. There are also classes for open cars (cars without any windows), closed cars (cars with windows) and convertibles (which usually do have windows).
Although there can be lots of classes in a Concours d'Elegance show, each group is judged based on the same strict standards to determine a winner. Go on to the next page to learn how each car is judged.