Just Cool Cars
We try not to make our blogs just a bunch of pictures of pretty cars, but there are so many at Monterey, and we just have to share.
A Walk down the Street
Your neck gets a workout just walking from your parking space to a restaurant in Monterey.
We’ve seen Carroll Shelby’s signature on Kirkham Cobras made in Poland, so it’s no guarantee that the car is an original. Bob Bondurant is a significant name in Cobra history, but what his signature on the dash of a 427 Cobra means is your guess. Sweet ride, though!
Right in front of the Cobra, as if to emphasize the breadth of automotive abundance at Monterey, a brass-era Buick touring car draws as much attention – if from a different crowd.
Among the most beautiful cars you (well, some of you) can buy today, the Aston Martin Vantage V12. We liked it better in the V8 version without all the holes in the hood.
It’s one thing to see a million-dollar plus hybrid supercar on a stand in a car show, or even on the floor of an auction, but to walk down the street and find a 900+ horsepower McLaren P1 casually sitting at the curb, well, it must be Monterey, or Carmel in this case. The one at Gooding & Co, was gaveled at $1.75 million.
Too bad you can’t hear it. A 289 “Mk II” Cobra with California Plates “65 FIA,” referring no doubt to the cars that competed in the 1965 International Championship for GT Manufacturers, winning the Championship with 90 points to Ferrari’s 71.3.
1966 – 1968 was a watershed in automotive design. The Maserati Ghibli (Tipo 115 per the correct black California license) is a benchmark of the period along with such luminaries as the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona and Lamborghini Miura.
We’re not sure whether it’s a good or bad sign that we posted this picture, identifying the car as a Ferrari 330 GTC, without looking it up – first. The one RM Southeby’s offered at auction drew a winning bid of $650,000.
Little Does not Mean Insignificant.
Some of our fondest memories, as well as some cars that were the foundation of industry giants, started out small. For instance, the first Porsches to carry the name were powered by 1,000 cc engines.
At the lightweight end of the Sports Roadster scale – a couple of nicely detailed and correct Austin Healey Sprites. This is the kind of fun car that is impossible to build and sell today, and we are the poorer for it.
Take the minimalist attitude of the Sprite, add Colin Chapman genius, and pump it full of steroids via Cosworth, and you have a Lotus Super Seven. The concept was so strong that the design lives today in the virtually identical Caterhams.
The Porsche Speedster commands a following all out of proportion to its capability, respectable as it is for a 1,600 cc roadster with a swing axle and no top.
With an engine under two liters, a pre-1970 Porsche 911 qualifies for the Little Car Show at Pacific Grove, but this is a 911 with a modified 356SC four-cylinder – the 912. It actually outsold the 911 its first year.
The first edition of the Little Car show was unaccountably bereft of Alfa Romeos. That has since been remedied in spades. A little black Giulia Spider is lost among the exotics at the Concorso, but here among Crosleys, 2CVs, Minis and VWs it’s like a direwolf in a litter of chihuahuas.
If Dad had taken the 1958 MGA in which we learned to drive and stuck it in a barn somewhere before the Midwestern road salt had perforated it, this might be what it looked like when you pulled it out and dusted it off this summer.
The Tour Cars
Yes, you can see all the same cars at Pebble Beach on Sunday, but maybe you want to see your favorite vintage racers perform on the track at Laguna Seca. Then you can leave early from the Los Angeles area and watch many of them as they pass, from any number of scenic spots. Or spring for the five day package and get up early Thursday, because one of the thrills is seeing the cars disembarking from the transporters in the early morning dark, and capturing them as the light slowly grows. The Haggerty people won’t begrudge you a donut and a cuppa at their hospitality tent.
Cobra Daytona chassis number CSX 2602 was the fifth of six built. This is the livery in which it raced, except at Le Mans, where it carried the red and white colors of Scuderia Filipinetti. It won its class at the Concours.
Perhaps sneaking in under the maximum model year for an antique, Doug Magee Jr.’s 1914 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Keliner Torpedo Phaeton won the class, and also Most Elegant Open Car.
The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, on Lake Como in Switzerland, predates the Pebble Beach event by more than 40 years. This car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Touring by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera (“superlight”) won the Coppa d’Oro there and its class and the Elegance in Motion Trophy here. The accents on the bonnet and sides had the car nicknamed the “Flying Star” Spider.
Nine of these brutal-looking racing Alfa Romeo 6C 2300Bs were built, winning the Italian Championship and their class in the Mille Miglia, Only one body survives, and this car, chassis number 815001, was restored to that configuration.
Never let anyone tell you there’s no risk in driving the Tour d’Elegance. Andries Meuzelaar, owner of this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing showed us a copy of the original build sheet for his car, indicating the unusual turquoise leather interior. It also specified a paint we had never heard of – a sort of semi-gloss satin grey. Then he showed me the consequences of having better brakes than the following car. The trunk now bears a scar, and much of the cars value, tied up in its originality and uniqueness, has been lost forever.
1961 Lincoln Continental Mary Tod (Get it?) started the day modestly (above), but loosened up and went topless for the static display in Carmel (below). The results page at the Concours website lists no awards for the Lincoln Continentals of Class E .
The other Auction Cars
At the Auctions, it’s the eight-figure cars that get all the attention, it seems. Nevertheless there are always some cars that catch the eye but not the headlines.
There are always a few teasers out where you can walk around them at the big auctions, but to see the rest, you have to buy your way in. At Gooding, they always have a long black car with shiny chrome on a platform just inside the entrance where you are checked by security for your pass.
This year Gooding’s temptress was this Packard, a 1934 Twelve 1108 Sport Sedan by Dietrich, lot number 123. Formerly in Nethercutt and Harrah’s collections, the catalog gushes, “Arguably the most Beautiful classic era Packard.” At least two bidders agreed. It hammered for 10% over the high estimate – $3.3 million.
Cobras are known by their chassis numbers. CSX 2208 had only three previous owners. It cost its new owner $907,500 before taxes and registration. Their other Cobra, CSX2315, a Mk II with a racing history, sold for $858,000 with commission, perhaps because it was modified to FIA specifications.
Popular subject for photographers at the 2012 Tour and Concours, this 1911 Fiat Tipo 6 Demi-Tonneau has the most fanciful mascot we’ve yet encountered. Its new owner paid $880,000 for it, before taxes etc.
We included a shot of the Bertone Ferrari in the other blog, but it deserves more.
In 1962 Ferrari’s Formula One cars featured a “shark-nose” style that was echoed in the frontal aspect of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s design for Giuseppi ‘Nuccio’ Bertone’s graceful Coupe.
Sweeping Saoutchik bodywork on RM’s 1948 Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Cabriolet are somewhat compromised by clumsy bumpers. Estimated at $1.2 – $1.7 million, bids apparently did not reach its reserve.
When we were looking for a replacement for our faithful BMW 325iT Sportwagen, we never knew we could have had this 1967 Aston Martin DB6 MK I Shooting Brake for a mere $682,000 including commission.
If you are escorting a Best Actress nominee to the Film Festival at Cannes, this 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Drop Head Coupe is the perfect carriage, for only $1,155,000 at RM Southeby’s.
Considering that it is not road legal, the $242,000 paid for this 2013 Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione is only the first of the expenses its new owner can expect to incur if there is any expectation that it will be driven. You don’t do hot laps on race tracks for nothing.
We are on record as rating the 250 GT Lusso the “most beautiful Ferrari” but if we were voting on the sexiest, the 275 GTB/4 would be at the top. This exceptionally original car, winner of Preservation Class awards, drew a winning bid of $3.525 million at Gooding & Co.
In 1988 Porsche introduced a model that stretched the meaning of the “911” to near the breaking point – the 959. In street trim, the cars were capable of nudging the 200 mph mark. This car has many special order features but we wonder, why bother paying to have a car painted it to match a sample, only to order it in black? The choice does not seem to have hurt its value. It sold for $1,650,000.
The Pebble Beach Road Race Cars
The early Ferrari Barchettas are significant, historic, and by American standards, simply improbable. We never really warmed to the design, though, finding them kind of stubby. Of the cars that raced on the Peninsula, two make our list of cars worth another look. One wonders though. What is the significance of the fact that neither car is powered by the legendary Ferrari V12, but by the simpler four-cylinders?
The third-place car in the Concours class is this 1955 857S Scaglietti Spyder. It best matches our fantasy of sleek sexy Italian race cars.
The car that won the Concours class, the 1954 500 Mondial awaits the start of the Re-creation Run. With driver aboard it seems almost absurdly small, until you remember it would qualify for the Little Car Show – it’s only a two-liter car.
The Ferrari 250LM was the last of the Ferrari 250s. Enzo had it in mind to compete in the GT class against the expected onslaught of Corvettes and Cobras with their big reliable pushrod V8s by offering a sophisticated aerodynamic mid-engine coupe. The governing body wasn’t having any. They had been burned when Ferrari promised to homologate the GTO (the “omologato” in the “Gran Touring Omologato” of the GTO) by building 100 cars, and only built 36. The 250 LM had to run in the Sports Prototype class, but it won outright anyway – the last Ferrari to do so.
The “LM” in the 250LM’s name proved prophetic – once. This is the 250 LM Scaglietti Berlinetta that won Le Mans in 1964 with Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt driving for Luigi Chinetti’s N.A.R.T. It was acquired by the Indianapolis Museum and competed in the Preservation Class.
Above: On the 50th anniversary of Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson’s epic drive in the 1955 Mille Miglia, Mercedes Benz brought their car, along with its transporter, to the Concours. Later, we captured a video of Sir Stirling driving the car on demonstration laps at Laguna Seca. Below: Ten years later. The car’s number, 722, refers to its departure time from the starting line, the faster cars leaving earlier to avoid too much passing. The two, with Jenkinson using hand signals to indicate approaching conditions, read from a scrolled set of scouting notes, averaged 99 miles per hour over 1,000 kilometers on narrow Italian roads. Superlatives utterly fail to convey the magnitude of the feat.
Maybe if the Ferrari 250 Tour de France that won the race was painted like this one, it would have sold for more than its $13.2 million price. This one was raced under pseudonyms by a couple of obscure drivers and won class finishes in the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometers and Le Mans 24 hours.
Outrageousness always garners extra points with us, so this Ferrari F40 at the Concorso had to be included. This is the last Ferrari personally approved by Enzo Ferrari. With 487 horsepower out of 2,936 cc (when the Corvette made 230 from a 5.7 liter V8) and a body of Kevlar, carbon fiber and aluminum, it had a top speed of 202 miles per hour.
And the Winner Is
In 1971 Le Mans winner and race car builder (and Car and Driver Nominee for President) Dan Gurney and Car and Driver editor Brock Yates drove a borrowed Ferrari 365 GTB/4 from the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California. Slowed by snow in the Rockies, they finished in six minutes under 36 hours, averaging 80.8 miles per hour, including stops, and winning the second running of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. This is when the National Speed Limit was a much-reviled 55 miles per hour. They reportedly confirmed its top speed of 175 miles per hour and received one speeding citation.
We featured a picture of this car, exhibited here in Class M-2 for Ferrari Competition, in our Ferrari 60th Anniversary on Rodeo Drive blog. After careful consideration, we’ve chosen it as our favorite car of the 2015 Monterey week, partly for its having participated in a rare automotive act of civil disobedience.
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