Thursday, August 16, 2012
The question hangs in the air like a poof of exhaust from a 1923 Duesenberg over the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: With a culture steering toward greater gas efficiency, electricity and more mass transportation, what will happen to a car industry that has long thrived on oversized engines, monster horsepower and conspicuous consumption?
Earlier this summer, Monterey County got a peek.
At July’s Refuel Clean Power Motorsports races at Laguna Seca, hobbyists and technology-heavy car manufacturers tested their plug-ins against the high stresses of the iconic racetrack. They demonstrated a functional future awaits under the hood of their silent sports cars, though the civilian market will have to wait another year. Tesla, KleenSpeed and others proved their electric engine systems can give upward of 150 miles on a 4-hour charge, eliminating emissions without sacrificing high-performance ambitions. KleenSpeed’s EVX-11 – a blur of green and white with low profile arches on a sleek Indy-style West WX-10 racing body – already matches the torque of Porsche’s epic 1970s racers, while hitting 130 mph out of the straightaway without even a whisper of noise pollution. Unlike its early record-breaking brethren it’s no longer swathed in aluminum curves hand-beaten by Carrozzi; instead, its cars are conversions of familiar sedans. Their Kar concept debuts at Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research Aug. 22, and the $20,000 commercial version is only 12 months out.
With that in mind, and Car Week 2012 purring into town bigger and grander than ever, the Weekly takes a look at some of the most forward-thinking designs – of both yesterday and today – from the blockbuster automobilia assembled. The aim: to more closely analyze exactly where cars are taking us.
1963 Split-Window Corvette Coupe
GORDON MCCALL MOTORWORKS GATHERING AT JET CENTER
The-powers-that-be behind The Phenom 300, one of a fleet of private aircraft that preens on the tarmac at the legendary Wednesday kickoff to Car Week, think it has future-of-flight written all over it because its efficient design allows it to operate at the lowest cost per hour of any competing aircraft in its category – and even rival fares offered by commercial carriers. But when event founder Gordon McCall is asked to ID the most ahead-of-its-time vehicle of the event, he doesn’t flag the Phenom, the F-18 dripping with unprecedented technology, the ultra-exclusive, mold-breaking, spaceship-looking Lamborghini Aventador or even the 2013 Koenigsegg Agera R (and its 273 mph top speed). Instead, it’s the 1963 split-window Corvette coup, the first of its kind in myriad ways. “In the ’60s this country was trying to get to the moon,” says McCall, who happens to own one that’ll be on display. “The ’63 corvette might as well have been from the moon.” Later he adds this: “It is fun to look down the road and get a glimpse into the future of cars. I wish we could do it with other crap in our lives. How come we can’t do it with politics?” [MCA]
5-10pm. Wednesday, Aug. 15. Monterey Jet Center, 300 Skypark Drive, Monterey. $295 in advance; $325 day of. www.mccallevents.com
The Italian design company Bertone celebrates its centennial anniversary at the Concorso as wildly influential firms should: with a revolutionary one-off concept sports car. The Nuccio’s arresting wedge design gives a nod to the aerodynamic advances of the 1970s and the colossal windshield sits as low to the ground as physically possible for optimal torque. But the Nuccio’s craziest feature is the avant-garde tensile chassis structure, making it lighter and stronger than the antiquated pillar and beam structure. The parallel rails of the roof stretch from the front headlights backwards, creating two peaks that make it look light-speed quick even when it isn’t moving. When it is, the 4.3-liter V8 engine and 480 horsepower bring on the blur. The Nuccio will settle in nicely in the context of the Concorso, which moves to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this year with an abundance of Bertone designs, vintage Ferrari favorites and even classic Italian bicycles in tow. [HG]
9am-5pm. Friday, Aug. 17. Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, Pasadera Drive off Highway 68, Monterey. $150/in advance; $175/day of. 644-0318, www.concorso.com
1975 BMW 3.0 CSL
ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION
While the iconic and beloved Shelby Cobra will star at this year’s historic-races reunion—and should, as it celebrates 50 years—the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL deserves recognition for leaping the fabled Beemer marque forward into a very fruitful future. The first race car to be developed under the subsidiary Motorsport GmbH, the CSL was also first to sport BMW’s official blue, red and purple motorsport color scheme. At 400 pounds lighter than the original coupe—the “L” in CSL stands for lightweight—the panelled aluminum body weighs in at a nimble 2,431 pounds. Its six-cylinder engine and then-newly developed four-valve cylinder head, with a stable of 430 horses, quickly racked up trophies at esteemed races around the globe. The legendary five-speed that set the stage for BMW’s fresh, forward-thinking future will be joined by historical elites, including the heavily decorated Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, a 1931 Bugatti T51 and a group of disc-brake-donning historic stock cars like the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Daytona-500-winning Buick Regal. [HG]
7am gates open daily Fri-Sat; 8:30am-5pm qualifying races Fri; 8am-5pm races Sat; 5-6pm Cobra car show Sat; 8:30am-4:30pm races, 4:45pm awards ceremony Sun. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 17-19. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 1021 Monterey-Salinas Hwy, Salinas. $50-$70/day pass in advance ($$70-$90/at the gate); $130/three-day in advance ($150/at gate). 242-8225, www.mazdaraceway.com
1972 Porsche L&M 917/10 Spyder ’72
Built for the Can-Am, a free formula-style race with virtually no restrictions, the 1972 Porsche L&M 917/10 Spyder ’72 Can-Am Champion, driven by George Follmer and offered at Mecum this weekend, might be the most historically significant Porsche on this side of the planet. The loose regs of the Can-Am made for exhilarating driving performances against a wide scope of modified cars—which were almost all dominated by car builder McLaren until the Porsche 917 was perfected. Then it was dominant: Follmer and his Spyder took first in five of nine events, with a series-winning score of 130 points (second place had only 65). Built by Porsche in Germany and re-tuned by Penske in Pennsylvania, the Spyder was also the first successful turbo, packing over 1,000 horsepower and clocking a top speed of 220 mph. Front fenders swoop like skirts on a rectangular air intake in the front, while the otherwise rectangular body sprouts a whale tail rear spoiler. All told, a look as intensely all-out as the Can-Ams themselves. The most diversified with 750 vehicles, and 40 Porches including seven select cars from Steve Goldwin’s collection, the Mecum lineup includes race cars such as the 1974 Shadow DN4 Can-Am and 2008 Cadillac CTS-V Factory Race Car without forgetting to include one family-owned 1930 Ford Model A. [JB]
8am preview; 9:30am road art auctions; 10am-6pm car auctions. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 16-18. Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, Del Monte Golf Course, 1 Old Golf Course Rd., Monterey. (262) 275-5050, www.mecum.com
1960 Plymouth XNR
A rogue on the run with a remarkable history—including a secret subterranean garage—Chrysler’s 1960 Plymouth XNR stuns with a dramatic rear fin and a spacey physique. Its slight height (just 43 inches) and fiberglass nose cone allow it to push past 150 mph. The XNR’s asymmetrical body also helps, with a hood air scoop that stretches from the grill to the driver’s one-man curved windshield and culminates in a single, decentered fin and X-shaped bumper that echoes the name. Built on a modified 106.5-inch Valiant chassis, the body was formed entirely out of steel rather than the typical fiberglass used for concept cars, reminding admirers it was built to drive. The back story’s almost as striking as the aesthetics: Initially sold to a Swiss man by Carrozzeria Ghia, the Italian company enlisted to build the steel body, the XNR passed through the stables of the Shah of Iran before being hidden in an underground garage during the Lebanese Civil War. In the 1980s, car collector Karim Edde’s scouts discovered the hidden gem, which he immediately bought and began safeguarding from the increasingly global conflict. Finally, after years of seeking shelter in constantly changing locations, the car was sent to RM in 2008 for a full restoration. Over a three-year span, RM painstakingly restored the XNR from the 170 CID slant six engine with Nascar specs down to the pristine leather interior and the custom hubcaps, each made of 35 individual pieces of metal. It’s one of more than 100 vehicles ranging from a 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra to a 2001 Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype race car that fill every Portola Hotel lobby and Custom House Plaza space with shining chrome and classy chassis. [HG]
Preview: 10am-6pm Wed-Thu; 10am-10pm Fri-Sat. Auction: 6:30pm Fri-Sat. Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 15-18. Portola Hotel & Spa & Monterey Conference Center, 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. $50/preview pass; $300/registered bidders. (519) 437-3053, www.rmauctions.com
The Vintech P 550 Tribute
THE QUAIL: A MOTORSPORTS GATHERING
Five words, on loan from the future: “epoxy carbon infused under vacuum.” True fact: That’s what composes the Vintech Tribute’s monohull, helping the car weigh just 1,200 pounds and reach 280 to 300 horsepower at 8,000 rpm—and a theoretical top speed of 293 (the retractable flap opens at a speed beyond 75 mph). It’s the fifth brawny-but-beautiful brainchild of Groupe D3, a design firm Q could appreciate, which has created prototypes for Citroën, Renault and BMW, among others. Four other featured themes make 2012’s Quail, the landmark 10th annual, another embarrassment of excellence: pre-war Alfa Romeos, the 50th Anniversary of Iso Automobili, FIVA Preservation and Revolutionary Designs. Then there’s the massages and world-class cocktails, five gourmet food tents and surprises they’re not discussing, but in the past have included a sudden stunt plane and a VW Beetle equipped with a jet engine. [MCA]
10am-4pm. Friday, Aug. 17. $450; sold out. Quail Lodge Golf Club, 8000 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel. 620-8887.
1970 Subaru Deluxe 360 Sedan
A wise old car mechanic once said, “Before you can face the future, you have to come to terms with your past.” And he didn’t mean the good times. He meant the ugly stuff. Enter the Concours d’LeMons, where the aim is to celebrate “the oddball, mundane and truly awful of the automotive world.” This year organizers set out to find the nation’s Sweetest Lemon—“the most glorious example of the worst cars out there,” says one sponsor—and settled upon this jewel, a 1970 Subaru Deluxe deathwish with a two-stroke motorcycle engine and a top speed of…60 (on a good day). “The future is definitely a better place with the Subaru 360,” event founder and emcee Alan Galbraith says. “It harkens back to a whimsical time in the automotive world when cars didn’t have all the same, sophisticated features. The 360 had none.” Other acidic autos to observe at the third annual allergic answer to the fancified Concours d’Elegance climate: a yellow 1978 Mazda GLC with yellow plaid interior and a 1961 Renault station wagon with far more rust than horsepower. [MCA]
10am tour through 17-Mile Drive; 9:30-10am, noon-1pm viewing. Saturday, Aug. 18. Laguna Grande Park, 1249 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Seaside. Free. www.concoursdlemons.com
1972 Ferrari Dino Targa 246 GTS
RUSSO AND STEELE SPORTS AND MUSCLE
The Dino 246 was built to race—and races built it. Ferrari started putting the engine behind its drivers in the early 1960s, and by the 1961 Grand Prix championship the team was running the first mid-engine car to win LeMans. Their winning ways led designer Sergio Pininfarina to push founder Enzo into making midengine road cars, previously thought to be too dangerous for civilian use. The subsequent car changed Ferrari’s whole design perspective. Swapping out a six-cylinder engine instead of the V-12s, Enzo dubbed the “safer” smaller engined series Dino after his late son, but like the Ferrari 246 Sport Prototype that came later, everything was still geared for racing, including the suspension. Its descendent 1972 Ferrari Dino Targa 246 GTS—one of 250 cars from a ‘32 Ford Roadster to a 2002 Bentley Arnage on display and on the auction block at Russo-Steele—is nearly identical to the inaugural 206, but features a longer wheelbase with better handling, a removable one-piece targa top panel, innovative disc brakes, an increased horsepower of 195 and a 2.4 liter V6. Another ahead-of-its-time 1965 that gave the driving public racing capabilities, the ’65 Shelby Cobra Roadster 289, also appears at Russo and Steele auction-in-the-round, riding Ford’s small block V8 and a British AC Bristol lightweight aluminum body. [JB]
10am car preview; 3-5pm cocktail reception; 5pm auction. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 16-18. Old Fisherman’s Wharf, 290 Figueroa St., Monterey. $20. (602) 252-6260. www.russoandsteele.com
Saoutchik-Bodied 1938 Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia
PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE
The cars of its time came tall, square and heavy. That makes the absurdly sleek Saoutchik-Bodied 1938 Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia one of the first efficient cars to hit the road—even if its name isn’t so streamlined. Even today its design and aerodynamics, from the teardrop fenders to the sculpted cockpit, fit far better in the future than today, let alone the 1930s. It also fits beautifully into the Car Week granddaddy event itself, where elegance is more than part of the name: It’s an almighty priority on the 18th fairway, where dozens of classes are judged early and the lawn party runs well past the celebratory award ceremonies right in front of Pebble Beach Lodge, by far the biggest spectacle—of many—all week. And there’s more futuristic-ness where the Dubonnet comes from, thanks to the debut of the sports custom class, which joins a loaded Pebble Beach lineup including Cars of the Maharajas, Mercer, Fiat, Saoutchik Coachwork, AC and AC (Shelby) Cobra and German motorcycles. All hail the queen of Car Week. [MCA]
10:30am field opens; 1:30-5:30pm awards. Sunday, Aug. 19. $200 general advance; $250 general gate; $600 Club d’Elegance. 622-1700, www.pebblebeachconcours.net
1969 Bizzarrini Manta
GOODING AND COMPANY SPORTS AND RACING CARS
While by no means expected to be the priciest at Goodings, designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s 200 mph machine is deemed one of the most influential concept cars of the 1960s. Dubbed the Manta, in turquoise it looks almost as aquatic as its namesake. One of three made, its technological angle and design made other Italian coach-built bodies look frivolous. In order to forgo a beastly looking rear wing, its wedge shape merges its letter-box nose and roofline in one fell swoop and elevates the rear, making the whole car, in effect, an air spoiler that forces the car down and maintains grip. The shape directly inspired the Maserati Boomerang, Lotus Esprit and the DeLorean while influencing an industry-wide trend. The tubular steel design, built to endure the hardship of racing under a 400 horsepower Corvette 327 5.3 liter V8, also carries influence today, though the radical center-steer three-seat cockpit and 15 degree windshield angle are not often imitated. The high-listings event also features several firsts: the Bugatti Veyron—the fastest street legal production car in the world featuring the only production W16 engine, the equivalent of two narrow-angle V8 engines all wrapped into one—and George Clooney’s 2008 Tesla Roadster (also available new in a minty green), the number eight of the world’s first high performance electric sports cars. [JB]
5pm auction Sat; 6pm auction Sun. Wednesday-Sunday, Aug. 15-19; Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, Portola and Stevenson, Pebble Beach. $40/admit one to both events; $100/admit two; $200/bidder registration for two; free/children under 12. (310) 899-1960. www.goodingco.com