The Revs Program at Stanford and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance announce a new collaboration today that will result in Stanford University students delivering a trophy at the prestigious collector car event on August 18. Called the Revs Program at Stanford Award, the trophy will be given to the car that the students find to be the “most historically significant.”

But on what basis will students judge automobiles at the event? After all, they don't have the experience of the typical Concours judge, many of whom spend a lifetime focusing on the history of just one automobile marque.

"We decided to use that deficiency as an educational opportunity," explained Clifford Nass, Revs Program at Stanford Director. "Revs board member and Stanford founder David Kelley came up with a brilliant idea: launch a class where we'd explore what judging an object means. During the Spring quarter of 2013 at Stanford, that's exactly what two dozen students did."

The class, entitled “Judging Historical Significance of the Automobile,” started with a series of lectures and discussions that forced the students to think about how they might determine their own organizing principles. Guest speakers from diverse perspectives arrived, each sharing with the class how they structured ideas and approached historical significance. In addition to Kelley and Nass, the seminar was led by Revs advisor Jon Feiber, Co-Director Michael Shanks and Executive Director Reilly Brennan.

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Chairman Sandra Button visited Stanford during the class to share the event's history with the students.

"It was an honor and a joy to be able to share some of my passion for automobiles with these students," said Sandra Button, Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, who introduced the students to the history of the Concours and many of the cars headed to the show field this year. "These students are committed to researching and learning from the past while planning in innovative ways for the future. I’ll be interested to see which car they choose as most significant—and why."

Many lectures drew on Stanford’s extraordinary breadth: Archeology Professor and Revs Co-Director Michael Shanks brought in a lithic tool estimated to be 1 million years old, while Cooper-Hewitt Design Curator Cara McCarty talked about her process for accessioning (and fighting for) the Bell Helicopter hanging in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art during her time there. Stanford Library Curator Henry Lowood took the students through a history of video game engines, while STS Director Fred Turner instructed the students to approach history from multiple angles, and Clifford Nass discussed the psychology and statistics of categorization.

Revs founder and collector Miles Collier arrived in May to speak about the deep thinking and strategy that goes into his vehicle portfolio, while collector Arturo Keller opened up his collection to the students during one magical weekend.

"There's something interesting about taking something so specialized and hardened as vehicle judging and opening it up to the human-centered design process," said David Kelley, founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, aka the "The students really unpacked why objects should be viewed as important, relative to each other and the time in which they were created."

The students leveraged these experiences with experts to dive into a profound research phase with the list of Pebble Beach Concours entrants, resulting in a living group blog that catalogued all of their efforts. By the end of the quarter, completed June 5, the group had determined their criteria, which included qualities such as aura, whether the vehicle marked an inflection point in history, unique history of the individual vehicle, lasting impact, and provenance.

The students will unveil their winner on stage at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 18.



About the Revs Program at Stanford

The Revs Program at Stanford established a new trans-disciplinary field connecting the past, present and future of the automobile. The program aims to put the automobile at the center of the university and raise the quality of academic discourse at Stanford and beyond. For more information please visit

About Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

First conducted in 1950, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance® ( has grown to be the world's premier celebration of the automobile. Only the most beautiful and rare cars are invited to appear on the famed 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links®, and connoisseurs of art and style flock to see these masterpieces. Charitable donations raised by Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance® now total over $16 million. Related events include Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance™ presented by Rolex, Pebble Beach RetroAuto™, and Pebble Beach® Auctions presented by Gooding & Company. Pebble Beach®, Pebble Beach Golf Links®, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance®, Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance™, and Pebble Beach RetroAuto™ are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. All rights reserved.