Thursday, August 18, 2011
This week dozens of the flyest Lamborghinis in the land will gather in Los Angeles for one big sleek police-escorted race up the state to the Monterey Peninsula. If such a scene strikes you as surreal, welcome to Car Week. Another such headturning situation, albeit with a little more history, is likely underway, or already over, as you read this: Thursday morning’s Tour d’Elegance mobilizes a big chunk of the unique cars here for Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance for a parade that runs from the Lodge in Pebble proper (leaving at 8:30am) through Jacks Peak, crossing via Tehama to Carmel Valley Road and heading into Carmel for a free noon-2pm display. Below, Sam Sciolla explores the events that follow, with peeks into the spirit of each (“first gear”), insider insights (“under the hood”), one stunner of a ride (“show-stopper”), celeb connections (“car fame”) and a look behind the velvet curtain (“behind the scenes”). Go vroom.
Pacific Grove Concours Auto Rally | Fri., Aug. 19
The Pacific Grove Youth Action and Rotary Club groups behind Pagrovia’s annual nod to Car Week push the majority of proceeds, from the entrance fees and barbecue dinner, back into local nonprofits. With on-day registration, it’s not too late to cruise the Peninsula coastline with 200-plus foreign and domestic autos.
First Gear | Keeping with a common theme, the Auto Rally celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-type with all kinds of cars from the feline marque, including the E-Type, sedans and roadsters.
Under the Hood | The fundraiser has registered a few Shelby Cobras, small but powerful cars whose production involved the expertise of race-car driver Carroll Shelby and engines from Ford Motor Company.
Show-stopper | A 1956 Porsche Speedster is also running with the rally. Once a reasonably priced small convertible, their short production period of four years has led to the ballooning of their value, and they sell now for around $250,000.
Car Fame | A few replicas of the Porsche 550 Spyder plan to attend the event; James Dean famously died in a Spyder in a collision around Paso Robles.
Behind the Scenes | Although serious awards like “Best in Show” and “Best Restoration” are distributed at the barbecue at Chautauqua Hall, humorous distinctions like “Most Unusual” and “Sexiest Driver” attest to the variety of cars and participants in the event.
1pm Concours; 6pm rally; 7pm awards dinner. Downtown Pacific Grove, Lighthouse Ave.. $75/driver; $90/dinner. 372-6585, www.pgautorally.org.
Concorso Italiano | Fri., Aug. 19
With wines from Chateau Julien and Heck Estates, a glittering fashion show, and close to 1,000 cars (yes) from marques like Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Fiat, the Concorso Italiano likes to demonstrate there’s more than a little Italy landing at Laguna Seca Golf Course. Note the creative collections, including one of all black and all white cars.
First Gear | One of this year’s themes, “Originals and Barn-finds” produced some truly fascinating stories of careful preservation and long hunts for rare vehicles hiding under blue tarps.
Under the Hood | Lamborghini introduces the Aventador, made of light and strong composite material that has only recently migrated to automobiles from aircraft.
Show-stopper | A 1964 Ferrari 330 America, nicknamed “Captain America,” will likely wow audiences with the combo of red paint and red upholstery. Even after almost 50 years, the car remains original, with only about 89,000 miles on it.
Car Fame | Keep an eye out for the recently restored 1961 Touring Design Maserati 3500 GT Convertible: a sleek, dark red beauty once bought by boxer Joe Louis for his girlfriend. Only three of its kind were ever made, and this the only to reach the U.S.
Behind the Scenes | In the morning, there will be a live radio broadcast called “Talk Time” hosted by Ed Justice, Jr. and Michael Lynch. Several Italian guests chime in, including designer Andrea Zagato, and Maurizio Reggiani, the director of Research and Development for Lamborghini.
9am-5pm. Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, 10520 York Road, Monterey. $125/in advance; $130/day of; free/children 12 and under with adult. 425-742-0632. www.concorso.com.
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering | Fri., Aug. 19
Sure, the Quail is a tough ticket, but once you’re inside, you are royalty. While some of the most worshipped cars in the world stand by, the organic produce, international cuisine from Julio Ramirez and coveted local wines are worthy of an occasion all their own.
First Gear | This year, the Quail remembers the 50th Anniversary of Phil Hill’s victory at the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship as the first American to claim the title. Hill passed in 2008, but his family attends the event in his honor.
Under the Hood | The Jaguar E-Type, celebrated across Car Week for its 50th anniversary, struck a chord in the ’60s with its elegance and performance that even now hasn’t stopped reverberating.
Show-stopper | On display this year is a 1938 Talbot Lago T150C, nicknamed the “Teardrop.” Though undeniably fetching, the car’s design is strange enough that it could have been manufactured in a parallel universe.
Car Fame | The Quail prefers not to discuss the previous owners of the cars it shows, but to purchase the Ferrari America and Super America models back in the day, you had to be somebody. They sold for $15,000-$20,000 in the ’50s and ’60s, when you could buy a Corvette for $2,000.
Behind the Scenes | On Aug. 18 and 19, Bonham’s and Butterfield’s holds an adjoining auction, selling historic cars, automobilia, and quality watches and jewelry. Tickets for the auction are still available. Check their website (www.bonhams.com).
10am-4pm. Quail Lodge Golf Club, 8000 Valley Green Drive, Carmel. Sold out. 620-8887, www.quaillodgeevents.com.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion | Fri.-Sun., Aug. 19-21
Car Week is full of amazing opportunities to learn more about cars, but nowhere do you see the true potential of these fine machines than at Mazda Raceway. Decades-old cars race on the track and prove the endurance of their engineering.
First Gear | Honoring the E-type, the raceway has pulled together some triumphant Jaguars for its Heritage Display, including the 1950 Jaguar XKS120 that Phil Hill sped to a win at an old track in Pebble Beach.
Under the Hood | In an era of experimental racing, Bruce McLaren won the 1967 Canadian American Championship series with his McLaren M6A, a car at the Reunion this year. During his race at Laguna Seca, the car grew so hot that he had a crewman pour a bucket of water on him.
Show-stopper | More than a dozen Ferrari GTOs will take to the racetrack at once. Considering that they generally sell at auction for between 25 and 30 million dollars, there might be a quarter of a billion dollars on the track.
Car Fame | Lead singer of AC/DC Brian Johnson apparently has a need for speed. He hops in his 1965 Lola T-70 vintage car this weekend to race at Laguna Seca.
Behind the Scenes | On Saturday, 20 1960s Top Fuel Dragsters light up together, creating a cacophony that fans lovingly call a Cacklefest.
8am-5pm Fri-Sun. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 1021 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Salinas. $50-150. 242-8201 for info; 800-327-7322 for tickets; www.mazdaraceway.com.
RM Auctions | Thurs.-Sat., Aug. 18-20
With shows in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Monaco, RM was drawn to Monterey by the concentrated automotive passion that started with Pebble Beach, hoping to find big players. With this year’s catalog, they expect a handful of vehicles to roll off the block with millions down.
First Gear | The collectors this year center on Mercedes-Benz’s 125th anniversary. Thirteen historic MB vehicles across 80 years of production will go up for auction.
Under the Hood | A wild looking 1965 Mercer Cobra, CSX 2451 was a prototype built to show off useful applications of copper and brass. The result is artistic and reminiscent of an airship. RM Auctions estimates its value between $800,000 and $1,200,000.
Show-stopper | A 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial-Roadster looms as an offering likely to break auction records for the marque and all motor cars. It has a classic look, with elegant curves and a silver exterior.
Car Fame | Film icon and race-car driver Steve McQueen used a 1970 Porsche 911S for sale at the auctions in his feature film Le Mans. The vehicle also remained in his personal California collection for at least a few laps around life.
Behind the Scenes | Unlike many other houses, RM Auctions uses its own division, RM Auto Restoration, to perform restorations. They have won multiple awards, and automobiles they have worked on will appear at the Concours d’Elegance.
10am-8pm Thu, Fri, and Sat preview; 6:30pm Fri and Sat (aprox. 4-5 hrs.) auctions begin. Portola Hotel and Spa and Monterey Conference Center, 2 Portola Place, Monterey. $40/person preview; ($120/catalog); $200/admission to previews, auctions and complimentary dinner receptions. 800-211-4371, www.rmauctions.com.
Mecum Auctions | Thurs.-Sat., Aug. 18-20
Their three-day long Monterey auction series is an aesthetically mesmerizing affair. Automobiles and other machines hit the auction block during the day, and the goings-on are broadcast on a live, national TV show through Discovery’s HD Theater. Jay Leno acts as a guest auctioneer on Thursday, selling a 2011 Yamaha R1 motorcycle for charity.
First Gear | The majority of items up for sale are collector cars, from the entry level up to million dollar cars. But on Thursday, Mecum offers almost 200 motorcycles up for auction from every imaginable brand.
Under the Hood | Called the “Birdcage” because of its chassis structure of tubes, the 1960 Maserati Tipo 61/60 racecar brakes and handles better than many other cars from the same era and is certified for FIA events worldwide. As a result, the “Birdcage” is a highly sought after vintage racer.
Show-stopper | A 1931 Miller Bowes Seal Fast Special for sale on Saturday won the 1931 Indianopolis 500.
Car Fame | On Friday, Mecum sells a stylin’ 1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible that was used in the early ’70s TV show The Mod Squad.
Behind the Scenes | Mecum Auctions, a family company, prides itself on creating auctions as welcoming to car freaks as kids. Daytime events and free admission open up the process to whole families.
8am gates open; 11am Thu, 10am Fri and Sat auctions begin. Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey. Free/preview and auction admission. $100/bidder registration. 815-568-8888, www.mecum.com.
Russo and Steele’s Monterey Sports and Muscle | Thurs.-Sat., Aug. 18-20
Specially for the dedicated hobbyist, Russo and Steele crowds spectators on the floor around the cars and ups the excitement by making 50 percent of their offerings no reserve. Anything can happen. Free previews expose downtown Monterey to a lot of muscle no matter the mass of the checkbook.
First Gear | Coming from the “Golden Era of the American Automobile,” a collection of late ’50s convertibles with signature fins, hearkens back to a forward-looking and optimistic time.
Under the Hood | A 1972 Porsche 911 IMSA RSR Vintage Race Car on sale this year was nicknamed the “Cinderella Porsche” when it beat out newer models for a class win at 12-Hours of Sebring. But soon other better-financed teams eclipsed the car, and it was retired in 1990.
Show-stopper | Red 1966 Ferarri 275 GTS convertible that can go from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. This model was once ranked third in a list of the greatest Ferraris, by Motor Trend Classic.
Car Fame | A 1935 Lincoln Model Phaeton 12 up for auction was once a parade car for President FDR, complete with disappearing door windows, smoker’s kit, rear foot rests, and wheel chair accommodations.
Behind the Scenes | The auction floor is actually on the second story of the Marriott. To get cars in and out, some doors have to be specially removed so that drivers can turn off Del Monte straight into the ballroom.
10am-5pm Thu-Sat (previews); 5pm Thu-Sat auctions begin. Marriott Monterey Hotel, 350 Calle Principal, Monterey. Free/previews; $100/bidder registration; $50/guest admission with bidder. 602-252-2697, www.russoandsteele.com.
Concours d’LeMons | Sat., Aug. 20
Behold! not elegant contours, but skeletons of rust, gaudy upholstery, and unusual features. Against their better inclinations, the people over at the Concours d’LeMons repeat an event that fills a gap in the impressive but stuffy Car Week schedule (see story, p. 30).
First Gear | For the third annual, the LeMons doesn’t have any featured offerings, but the Pintos always come out in force. In previous years, owners parked them in a circle (with their backs facing each other) so as to avoid the defect that made some of them explode when rear-ended in their first years of production.
Under the Hood | One new inclusion this year is a Renault Dauphine, a little rear-powered car with an 845cc engine and rear steering and power. Dreadfully weak, it goes from zero to 60 in 32 seconds, optimistically, if 60mph is doable to begin with.
Show-stopper | The Czechoslovakian Tatra looks like a stretched Volkswagen Bug with four awkward doors and covered back wheels. Only occasionally exported from the Bloc because of their low popularity, they are rarely spotted here in the U.S.
Car Fame | Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s vehicle of choice in Wayne’s World, the Chevy Pacer is the quintessential lemon. Because its panels would start to break only months after hitting the streets, doors can now be found for sale on eBay for around $800 to $1,000 each.
Behind the Scenes | Instead of the classical music and pre-recorded voiceovers played during the Concours d’Elegance, here the organizers serve up a soundtrack of classic car songs, like “Truckin’,” “Mustang Sally,” and “Maybellene.” Organizer Alan Galbraith’s mother-in-law punctuates the tunes with one-liners like, “The Concours d’LeMons: Because let’s face it, you’re never going to own a Bugatti.”
9:14am until finish. Laguna Grande Park, across from Seaside City Hall, Seaside. Free. 916-207-4645, www.concoursdlemons.com.
Concours d’Elegance | Sun., Aug. 21
The thundering Pacific and the gorgeous shoreline of Pebble Beach’s 18th Fairway provide a fitting backdrop for an event celebrating the power and beauty of the automotive world. The affiliated auctions run by Gooding & Company (Aug. 17-21) too have raised the bar for prices in North America, dealing in some of the most high-profile car purchases out there.
To complement Mercedes Benz’s 125th Anniversary and the Birth of the Automobile, the Concours has pulled together cars from both long ago and from the future. On one side is the wooden, three horse-power 1894 Benz Victoria Vis à Vis, and on the other, the Mercedes Benz Concept A-Class, a concept car that Mercedes hopes will introduce a “new design language.”
Under the Hood
For the Stutz Centennial feature, Jay Leno brings his early racecar, a 1918 Stutz Bearcat that represented the balance between power and control that engine designers were then trying to perfect.
Among the 22 infamously expensive Ferrari 250 GTOs scheduled to appear at the Elegance, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Sperimentale Pininfarina Coupe stands as the trailblazer. The hand-built, experimental model for the 250 was built to handle regular road driving, in addition to top race conditions, without overheating like other racecars might. (The Gooding & Company auction, meanwhile, will be stocked with show-stoppers like a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long-wheelbase Coupe some call the most elegant domestic ever.)
Car Fame | When the Maharaja of Patiala, a big spender, saw a 1928 Aston Martin P-Type Bertelli Short Chassis Sports Car at a London Motorshow, he had it immediately shipped home to India. It is now the third oldest Aston Martin pounding pavement today. Over at Gooding, a 1952 Phantom originally owned by the Aga Khan III goes on the block – as does a 1959 Mercedes 190 SL donated to charity by Sheryl Crow.
Behind the Scenes | Carrying on a storied tradition, members of the Ford, Porsche and duPont families all personally show cars at this year’s Concours.
9am judging begins; 10:30am show opens; 1:30-5:30pm awards presented. 18th Fairway, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach. $175/advance; $200/day of. 622-1700 for info, 877-693-0009 for tickets, www.pebblebeachconcours.net.