2015 LA Auto Show Faves – I

Intros & Newcomers

Some people may attend an event like the 2015 Los Angeles International Auto Show to get a chance to see all the candidates for a new car purchase in one setting. Some may just want to see the cars they’ve been reading and hearing about for a year. We go to see what’s new.

Finally! The real thing!

Honda has been teasing us about a sequel to the 1990 – 2005 game-changing NSX mid-engine exotic, with Superbowl adds featuring Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld fighting over first delivery rights, for years. Now it’s actually here, and you’ll pardon us for being underwhelmed.

Acura’s NSX follows current exotic practice with a hybrid powertrain featuring a mid-mounted 500 horsepower twin turbo 3.5 liter V6 and three electric motors for a total power output of 573 horsepower.

This is not news. Twenty-three years ago Jaguar introduced the XJ220 with a 3.5 liter twin turbo V6 and 542 horsepower. BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren have all introduced exotic hybrid sports cars in the last year, many with specifications that far surpass the new NSX.

The car is not even built on a carbon fiber tub – nearly mandatory in order to be taken seriously these days.

So it’s a little hard to get excited over such limited progress. In point of fact, it sounds only marginally more exciting than a standard Corvette – not even a Z06. It isn’t even all that exotic looking. Maybe it would look more compelling in a brighter color.

At an estimated price around $160,000, it will have little competition among mid-engine exotics. Depending on options, perhaps an Audi R8 might qualify, and a McLaren 570S is just a bit more dear.

A Big Gamble

Fifty years ago, Ford committed huge resources in a bid to unseat Ferrari as the premier maker of endurance racing machinery. They succeeded, sweeping the podium at Le Mans with their NASCAR-engined GT40s. Since then they produced a more civilized tribute to those cars in the limited-production (and bargain-priced by exotic standards) Ford GT.

But that was a street car – sold for fast touring and showing at your local concours d’elegance. Now Ford is getting serious again. Their new exotic could bring new glory to Ford – or fall flat on its face.

Ford’s new GT is another 3.5 liter twin turbo-powered exotic. Get in line quickly (only about 1,000 will be made) and you may be able to buy one – depending on how much equity you have in your house, or how deep your pockets are. Pricing is estimated at about a quarter million dollars.

Ford is counting on the tie-in between the race version of the GT and its turbocharged small displacement consumer “EcoBoost” products to bring those power trains popular legitimacy as they move away from large displacement naturally aspirated engines.

Ford Focus – Video Game Version

With youth less interested in car culture (Many teens no longer lust after that first driver’s license.) it has become important to place automotive products where the kids will see them – in computer games where the reigning champs are Japanese and European hot hatches.

That EcoBoost ethic that informs and powers the new Ford GT also motivates the finally-come-to-the-US Ford Focus RS. Only 2.3 liters, but sending 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels, so those who were mesmerized by the YouTube exploits of Ken Block can now become hot hatch hooligans too, for a base MSRP of $36,605.

Return of the Italians

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo is a brand with a racing heritage that predates Ford’s by a half century or more. They ceased selling cars in the United States in 1995. Although frequent rumors had them returning many times, it was not until the expensive high-performance 8C Competizione was offered here in 2008 that the marque reappeared.

That car had extremely limited production, but at last, in 2014 they introduced the lightweight, sharply focused 4C Coupe, making a more affordable Italian sports car available again.

But that car’s narrow focus on driver involvement (no power steering) at the expense of comfort insured that it would never sell in high volumes. For that, and for the long-term viability of the brand, they needed a sedan – one that could satisfy the high expectations of Alfa enthusiasts – the Alfisti.

The initial offering in the US is the upscale Giulia Quadrifoglio model, expected to sell in the $70,000 range. Expected later is a 2.2 liter “Multijet” turbo four that makes 197 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque in the corporate sibling Jeep Cherokee.

Alfa Guilia Quadrifoglio

When Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sport sedan came to the US, Alfa came out with all guns blazing with the highest performance version, the 505 horsepower Quadrifoglio. Alfisti expect great things, with a reported lap time at the  Nurbürgring faster than a BMW M4.  

The “Fiata”

Okay. we didn’t come up with that one. It’s what some in the press are calling Fiat’s new sports car built in collaboration with Mazda.

A little background.

In 1966 Fiat introduced a sports roadster powered by a sweet little dual overhead cam four, and priced within the reach of ordinary enthusiasts. The body was a Pininfarina design penned by Tom Tjaarda, who worked on the Chevrolet Sting Ray and DeTomaso Pantera, among others.

One of those others was the beautiful Ferrari 275 GTS, and no one could look at that car next to the Fiat 124 Spider and miss the resemblance.

Top: The Fiat 124 Spider of the sixties and seventies. Middle: The “Fiata” – 2016 Fiat 124 Spider, introduced at the LA Auto Show. Bottom: The Ferrari 275 GTS.

Mazda’s MX-5 Miata has earned near-universal praise for having resisted the trend toward making succeeding versions of successful cars bigger, heavier, and more powerful. Instead they concentrated on driver satisfaction, making the cars nimble and responsive, with perfect balance.

Fiat took that chassis and clothed it in a shameless tribute to the sixties car. The result, in your correspondent’s opinion, is drop-dead gorgeous.

They sacrificed some of the Miata’s lightness in lengthening the car and giving it an unmistakable Italian flair. Instead of the Mazda’s fine 155 horsepower 2-liter four, they installed the Multiair turbo four from the 500 Abarth, which contributes a 10 horsepower bump and more significantly, 32 more pound-feet of torque.

If this car comes in at a small enough price premium over the Miata, it should sell sensationally, or there is no justice in the car universe. If they install a 200 horsepower Multijet turbo four and call it the Abarth version, even better!

Another “3-Series Fighter”

It’s been out a while, but this was our first look at Jaguar’s entry into the ongoing sweepstakes to see if anyone can unseat the BMW 3-Series as the entry level luxury Sport Sedan of choice. (See the Alfa Giulia above.)

Enthusiasts bewail the fattening-up of the 3-Series, so they may welcome the Jaguar XE that is reported to have returned to the foundations of the BMW 3-Series’ appeal. It is said to sacrifice perhaps a few inches of interior room to a lighter (thanks to a new aluminum architecture) more agile persona.

The last vestiges of the Ford influence at Jaguar will soon pass as they replace the 2-liter turbo Ford four with a similar “Ingenium” base engine (with a turbo diesel variant) to go with the AJ V6 supercharged 3-liter.

Porsche 911 Targa

We confess that the charms of the original Porsche 911 Targa are lost on us. In our eyes the Targa bar interrupted the car’s lines, and made the rear window (when there was one) too vertical. Porsche has brought back the concept, and in so doing has, in our humble opinion, corrected that flaw.

A good compromise between a coupe with a sunroof and the (IMO) hunchbacked Cabrio, the new Targa preserves the familiar profile while offering open motoring. This one had an as-equipped price around $125,000.

Car of the Year

Chevrolet made quite a haul this year, with their redesigned Volt garnering a Green Car of the Year Award, and winning both the Truck and Car divisions of Motor Trend‘s “of the Year” awards.

It’s difficult to accept for a hereditary Ford guy, but as good as the 2015 Ford Mustang is (and it is sensational), Chevrolet has come up with a serious competitor.

The previous generation Camaro was handicapped by a foundation shared with a sedan, leaving that car hundreds of pounds heavier than the Mustang, which is built on a dedicated chassis shared with no other car.

The new Chevy also shares its chassis with other cars, but it is the thoroughly modern one that underpins the Cadillac ATS, and comes in under the Mustang in weight. If you can get past the gunport slits they offer for windows, it appears that the cars compete well with the Mustang.

Smaller, lighter, and more powerful than its predecessor, the Motor Trend Car of the Year Camaro is well equipped to compete in the pony car wars.

Our rule for convertibles is that they have to look at least as good with the top down as the hardtop did before they took the top off. In our editorial opinion, the Camaro Convertible (not yet released) meets that criterion. In fact, without the letter-box windows, the car looks better with no top.

One note: It appears that Motor Trend has a typo in their data panel for the Camaro SS. That’s the one with the Corvette V8. They list the base price as $37,295 and the “as tested” price as $38,585 compared to their $46,380 estimate for a Mustang GT.

We went to Edmund’s and priced out a car with only performance options and came up with an MSRP for the Camaro of $48,275, and a comparably equipped Mustang Premium Coupe at $39,480. At that price, for 0nly $1,720 more you could get a stripped Mustang Shelby GT350 with its screaming flat-plane-crank V8.

Come on Down!

The Auto Show is always a challenge to reporters. There are just too many cars. We came as close as we could to getting a picture of every car at the show, taking just under a thousand pictures. Sorting through them and coming up with the ones you’ll want to see and read about is a tough job, but someone has to do it. Glad we could step up. We’ll have more in subsequent blogs.


CARMA is a publication of The OM Dude Press
a service of Options in Mobility
Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist: Dick Stewart.
All photographs are by the author unless attributed otherwise.

Click on the images to view more detail. If the cursor is a plus sign in a circle, clicking again will yield full resolution.

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The State of the Tech

Alt Auto Expo 2015

Every year about this time, Santa Monica, California, hosts a gathering of vehicles that attempt to circumvent the mainstream tech of the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine, and display a variety of alternative means of getting from here to there. From the beginning there was promise of White Night technology that would knock the king off his throne, or at least offer an attractive alternative. So far the conquering hero has not shown up, but there has been incremental progress.

The Big Boys Weigh In

The first Alt Auto Expo had dozens of start-up companies offering all kinds of electric vehicles and those powered by fuels other than gasoline, or combinations of different technologies. We were no doubt in good company then, wondering which, if any, would shake out in the coming years. The evidence is that there are now basically four approaches with a good chance of surviving. The evidence is that the major manufacturers are investing in each.

Volt and Its Copiers

Second Generation Volt – Plug-in Hybrids

Chevrolet is where General Motors has chosen to invest its considerable resources in the variation on the Hybrid theme. Unlike the familiar Toyota Prius, their Volt mated a gasoline-powered generator to a sophisticated battery-powered electric drive system that was said to employ more lines of code in its control software than the Space Shuttle.

In that model, the engine seldom actually drove the wheels, but mostly generated electricity to recharge the batteries that supplied electricity to the motors that drove the car. You could plug it in at night when rates were low, and if your commute was moderate, you could drive it for weeks without filling the gas tank.

Nu Volt

There is a definite family resemblance to the original Volt, but the new shape is sleeker, less blocky. Interior space is up, with a fifth seat belt in the center of the back seat, really just giving the two back seat passengers more room. They were not offering drives.

By increasing its electric motors’ torque, reducing the weight of the batteries and increasing their power density, making the internal combustion engine both lighter and more powerful, and reducing weight (down 200 pounds), Chevrolet has pulled the neat stunt of making its new Volt roomier, quicker, and more fuel efficient when running on gas, with longer electric-only range (up to 53 miles).

The new Volt is a true hybrid now, with the gas engine powering the wheels under more circumstances. This takes a load off the batteries under cruising, and allows each power source to operate in its most efficient mode. There’s also a new menu option that allows more aggressive regeneration on deceleration, making it a one-pedal car under many conditions, freeing the gas engine from recharging duties for longer periods.

From GM’s point of view, the most important aspect of the redesign may be that the car costs less to build.

The i3 from BMW

BMW started with a cleaner sheet of paper for their i-series commuter car. They made a serious commitment to sustainable production, with the industry’s most advanced carbon fiber facility, run on hydroelectric power at Moses Lake, Washington. New techniques allow production of the i3’s lightweight carbon fiber chassis without the astronomical cost previously practical only on single-purpose racing cars and six and seven-figure exotics.

i3 Interior
Attractive optional BMW i3 interior features natural tanned leather accents and cloth made from 100% recycled polyester. The picture makes it look more dirt-vulnerable than it is. You can’t get in or out of the back seat without the complicity of a front-seat occupant. 

No rain forest hardwoods here. That’s eucalyptus on the dash, a wood that’s practically a weed in Southern California, and they harvest it sustainably. Other interior finishes include the carbon fiber composite structure itself, and scrap carbon fiber used as trim.

The i3 is first a BEV (Battery-Powered Electric Vehicle) but it’s also available as an extended-range electric, with a two-cylinder engine borrowed from BMW’s two-wheel stable. With that engine, the range is extended from 81 miles for the BEV, to 150 miles with the gas engine. Since the demise of the Fisker Karma, it’s now the only vehicle where that engine never drives the wheels. The reason for the short range is that the car’s gas-fueled range cannot exceed its electric range under California regulations, lest it lose its zero-emissions status and cost BMW valuable zero emission credits.

i3 At 2013 LA Auto Show Press Drive

Dozens of BMW i3s lined up for press drives – without chaparones – at the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show. The cars are terrific commuter cars, lively and nimble, changing lanes seemingly by mental telepathy. 

Audi E-Tron Plug-in Hybrid

Audi went the more traditional (if that word can be applied to such a recent trend) approach of the plug-in hybrid. It loses its California zero-emissions credit because its total range is more than double its 30 mile electric-only claim.

Audi A3 e-Tron Blue

Based on the hatchback version of the well-received A3 hatchback, Audi’s plug-in hybrid does not shout its green credentials as loudly as the graphics on the demo car. Its power port is cleverly hidden behind the four-ring Audi emblem (below).

Audi A3 e-Tron Plug

Marketing strategy for the e-Tron appears to depend on the driving experience, rather than the environmental friendliness of the cars. The 1.4 liter internal combustion four-cylinder is rated at 150 horsepower, with a boost off the line from its 102 horsepower electric motor.

Although they claim a 157 mpg capability, the circumstances where that can be achieved are probably no more likely for the average motorist than those under which most drivers will ever see its claimed top speed of 138 mph.

Audi A3 e-Tron Interior

Audi’s interiors are sometimes held up as the standard of the industry in their respective classes. Nothing in the A-3’s cockpit inspires lavish praise, but in our short drive it functioned well enough, in a kind of Teutonically efficient manner. Not much can be deduced about the car’s driving dynamics from our drive around the Civic Center block.


Range, performance, price – choose two.

Bolt – With a “B”

GM is planning production of a new all-electric car for 2017. A concept car was shown next to the new Volt. It is expected to be a direct competitor to the planned “affordable” Tesla.

Chevrolet Bolt Concept

All that they would say about the Bolt is that it would have a range around two hundred miles and cost about $37,500 before government incentives are applied. It will share the Sonic architecture and speculation is that it will use the same motor in the Spark EV below.

The Big Boy in the electric-only universe, Tesla, does not maintain a presence at the Expo, although this year they did loan an S85D (the dual motor car, minus the Ludicrous option that gives it a claimed acceleration from zero to 60 in 2.6 seconds) to the Petersen Automotive Museum for display under their inadequate shade pavilion.


Chevy had two BEVs at the show – one to drive and one concept.

Chevy Spark EV

Most closely resembling the Honda Fit, in the Packaging Wars the Chevrolet Spark EV seduces with power and torque.

Chevrolet’s Spark, when saddled with the standard 1.2 liter four cylinder gas engine, has little to recommend it other than a low price. Substituting a 140 horsepower electric motor and 121 kWh lithium-ion battery apparently transforms the car. (We did not drive it.) The secret is 400 (yes, that’s four followed by two zeros) pound-feet of torque. An EV that’s actually fun to drive, and doesn’t cost BMW bucks!

Range anxiety is always an EV concern. GM has partnered with other manufacturers to develop a charging system similar to Tesla’s SuperCharger, that allows a Spark EV to reach a full charge in twenty minutes. Range is EPA rated at 82 miles, but we spoke with an owner who claims his Spark EV has made two (gently driven) trips to Monterey (about 100 miles) with charge to spare. He says his  lease was $500 down and $50 a month. Perhaps we misremember.

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

With a claimed 93 mile range, the Kia Soul EV beats all the other BEVs save the Tesla, has a price comparable to other commuter BEVs, and scoots about as well as the Fiat 500 e (below). Charge times are about the same as other BEVs, but the Kia hides not one but two charge ports behind a sliding cover much like the Audi’s. Each works with a specific charging system, adding flexibility to reduce range anxiety.

Fiat 500e

The appeal of the Fiat 500s, including the 500e, is partly for their cuteness. The Kia soul actively courts that perception with its giant hamster ads. You can get more stuff in the Kia.



Performance, range, and price of VW’s e-Golf are competitive, with a bit of extra sparkle from its excellent driving dynamics.

Choosing an electric-only car is a tough decision. Reputation will play a large part in many buyers’ selection process. Will news of Volkswagen’s cheating on emissions with their award-winning diesel powered products harm theirs and Audi’s? Stay tuned.

Hydrogen Power

For now, hydrogen power in cars means fuel cells. These are devices for converting fuel to electricity without burning it. Without going into detail, it’s basically exchanging ions, with hydrogen and oxygen on one side of the process and electricity and distilled water on the other.

Also for now, most of the hydrogen used in fuel cell vehicles comes from fossil fuel. Much of it was already being produced in the process of refining oil and making other products from natural gas, so it’s pretty carbon neutral at the current rate of consumption.

Getting that hydrogen to the people driving fuel cell vehicles is the issue. Several sources have come together to provide a refueling infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars, but until those plans bear fruit, owning or leasing a Fuel Cell Vehicle remains a prospect for early adopters and the tech-obsessed.

The Toyota Mirai

Hyundai was the first major company to put a production fuel cell vehicle in the hands of consumers, but those Hyundai Tucsons are leased – and they weren’t letting us drive them. Toyota is the first to have confidence enough in their product to leave it in an owner’s hands for as long as the owner wants it, and to take their chances when they sell as used cars.

Mirai Inset

It’s one thing to say that a fuel cell produces nothing but distilled water, and quite another to watch it piddling onto the pavement behind the car (inset). Toyota’s Mirai is an electric car, motivated by electric motor like others. The difference is it makes its own electricity.

Mirai LF

Toyota says the evocation of a catamaran from the frontal aspect of the Mirai is deliberate. It comes from their desire to emphasize the “air in – water out” nature of a fuel cell. They still need a battery, and Toyota remains at least one generation behind the state of the art, with nickel-metal-hydrides instead of lithium ion or lithium polymer.  

The Mirai is about the same size as a Camry, though 2.5″ taller. They will be more than twice the price of that Camry, if it’s a hybrid, and weigh a hulking 4080 pounds. The motor produces 151 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque, roughly what Volkswagen was getting out of their 2.0 liter turbodiesel, before they were caught cheating on the emissions tests.

Our particular Mirai had no paper plate when our turn came up, so we got more ride and drive time than anyone else while we went over to Toyota of Santa Monica to get one. The result is that we observed that the car is much more solid-feeling than a BMW i3, but has a non-Toyota-like buzz on hard acceleration that is not present in other electric vehicles we’ve driven, except for a Volvo that was clearly too early in development for them to be letting us drive it. No doubt, when they first Mirais are delivered to customers, that buzz will be history.

So what’s the State of the Tech?

As stated at the start, there now appear to be four technologies that will be available to us when we go searching for a car that doesn’t just run on explosions and emit twenty-five percent of its fuel back into the atmosphere in the form of flatulence.

We predict that none of them is a real threat to replace the fossil fuel powered internal combustion engine for those who need one car for commuting, errands, and road trips, and who have average income – as long as gas stays under $6.00 a gallon.

For the next few years, expect the hybrid, and its heavier cousin the plug-in hybrid, to lead the way. The technology is mature and there’s an established market.

While installation of public charging stations accelerates, battery-powered electrics and those plug-in hybrids and extended-range electrics will gain favor.

Will private and public support remain strong enough to maintain the pace of installation of hydrogen refueling stations to tempt enough buyers/lessors to make fuel cells a viable business model?

We’re back where we were when these shows first stated that kind of question. We’ll be back next year to see if anything has changed.

CARMA is a publication of The OM Dude Press
a service of Options in Mobility
Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist: Dick Stewart.
All photographs are by the author unless attributed otherwise.

Click on the images to view more detail. If the cursor is a plus sign in a circle, clicking again will yield full resolution

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Monterey 2015 III

Chrome, Crystal and Brass – Monterey Mascots

Up until the late thirties, classic cars do not have hood ornaments. That’s partly because their “hoods” are usually huge panels connected with long piano hinges that fold upward to gain access to large complicated engines. You would have to mount a hood ornament on the top hinge, and then you couldn’t open the hood.

No. To lead the way forward and act as a statement of elegance, power, or just whimsy, many classic cars have mascots. They are mounted on top of the radiator cap, or on the top center of the radiator shell if the cap is concealed.

This year’s field of cars at Monterey was especially good for hunters of mascot images. Here are a few we encountered.


No, They’re not Wings

Probably the best-known of all radiator mascots is the Rolls-Royce “Flying Lady.” Also known as “Emily” or “Silver Lady,” her correct title is “Spirit of Ecstasy.” The original sculpture (there was a full size version, about four feet tall, at the Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California, the last time we were there) was sculpted by Charles Robinson Sykes, and modeled by Elanor Velasco Thornton.

Elanor (nicknamed “Thorn.”) was the secretary of John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu (after 1905 titled second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu), then Editor of The Car Illustrated. Although married to Lady Cecil Victoria Constance Kerr since 1889, John Walter fell in love with Elanor. As such things went in those days (See any episode of Downton Abbey.) there romance had to be clandestine. Nevertheless, in 1910 he commissioned Sykes to create a sculpture.

The first, showing her leaning forward in fluttering robes with one finger to her lips was titled “The Whisper,” a metaphoric reference to their secret love affair. That one went on Lord Montague’s own Silver Ghost.

When some owners chose “inappropriate” mascots for their Rolls, the managing director of Rolls-Royce, Claude Johnson, commissioned an “official” mascot, choosing the same sculptor and model, and the result was the familiar figure that some wags called “Ellie in her nightie.” So they’re not really “wings” but her robes.

1914 Silver Ghost Mascot

There have been several versions of the famous Rolls-Royce Flying Lady mascot. Above, a fairly accurate rendering (The earliest versions have the sculptor’s name and the date on the base.) is shown as mounted on the radiator cap of the Antique Class winner, the 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Kellner Torpedo Phaeton, which also won the trophy for Most Elegant Open Car.
Below is a later “Kneeling” version, 
mounted atop the radiator of the 1952 Phantom IV Hooper Sedanca de Ville that won Class H2 for Post-war Rolls and Bentleys.

RR Flying Lady

Lord Montagu’s affair with Elanor ended tragically. She was lost in 1915 when accompanying him to a post in India, and their ship was tropedoed off Crete. He survived the sinking after several  days on a raft.

1938 Alvis Speed 25 Mascot

Birds always convey a sense of speed and grace, like this eagle on a 1928 Alvis 25.

The Hispano Suiza Stork

In addition its the association with flight (Stork migration distances are legendary.), the stork has an ancient and distinguished place in mythology, symbolizing fidelity and steadfastness, among other qualities. All of this no doubt contributed to its selection by prestigious car maker Hispano Suiza (a French manufacturer) as their mascot after World War I, where it was the squadron emblem of French ace Georges Guynemer.

2 Storks 2

There were two “Hisos” in the field at the Concours. The literature does not explain the unusual upturned beak on the example on the right.

Packard Crane

Packards appear to have been popular cars on which to express individuality. As with the crane above.

Winged Wheel Bearer

Female figures with wings are a popular theme for mascots. This one is apparently carrying a spare wheel for the Packard she is leading.

RM Auburn Speedster Mascot

Ah! An actual “Hood Ornament.” This winged female figure adorns the supercharged Auburn Speedster offered at RM Southeby’s. Identical relief figures in profile appear on its flanks.

Gracefull Lady

Another interpretation of the flying lady, this one on a Cadillac. Another hood ornament.

2 Dueseys

Owners were free to select a different mascot for their cars. Some (like Rolls Royce) are rarely seen with mascots other than the official version. The usual mascot for a Duesenberg is a rather plain art deco interpretation of “flight” (two examples, one with color accents, above). Below is a different selection, a true “Flying Lady.” 

Duesenberg Flying Lady Mascot

duPont Pegasus Mascot

An honored marque this year was duPont. Something about these cars seemed to encourage their owners to chose a variety of mascots for their radiator caps, like this winged Pegasus bust.

Artistry in Crystal

As stated above, duPonts were popular mounts for a variety of Mascots, among them the artistic glass creations of René Lalique. Lalique produced no fewer that thirty different styles of mascot, two of which appear on duPonts at the Concours.

3 Eagle duPonts

Above: Three of the duPonts displayed, left to right, the 1929 Model G Convertible Coupe, 1931 Model H Sport Phaeton, and 1929 Model G 4-place Speedster, share the same design of Lalique Crystal Eagle’s Head. Below, the one mounted on the Petersen Museum’s 1929 Le Mans replica Speedster, unaccountably left out of the invitations to the Concours.

Petersen duPont Eagle

duPont Chanteclair Mascot

Above: The Lalique Crystal Chanteclair mascot adorned the 1928 Model G Merrimac Phaeton (below).

1928 duPont Merrimac Phaeton

Creative Expression

Back in the classic era, when a car’s manufacturer simply did not express the owner’s creativity sufficiently, what could one do? One did what car lovers still do today of course – they went to the aftermarket.

Frenchie With Context

A bulldog on a British Bentley. What could be more appropriate? But wait! Look at those ears! That’s no English bulldog. As custodians of one of these clowns of the canine world, we know that’s a French Bulldog.

Impala Mascot

Expressive and beautifully mounted, this impala mascot graced a Chrysler.

SS Jaguar R

The Swallow Sidecar company became SS Cars Limited, and branched out into four-wheeled sporting machinery. This fierce mascot is on an SS1, nicknamed the Jaguar by founder William Lyons, thus the  first “Leaper” of Jaguar fame.

duPont Deck Gun Mascot

The literature does not explain why New York artist Fred Dana Marsh, the first owner of this 1930 duPont, needed a deck gun on the prow of his Model G Merrimac Speedster.

Lincoln Greyhound

This greyhound often graced the prows of elegant Lincolns.

Fancy Free

When imagination is allowed to run free, there’s no telling what will come of it.

duPont Monkey Mascot

Reynolds duPont, Jr., owner of this 1928 Model E duPont Woonsocket Convertible Sedan (We did not ask if there was any relation.) says that he has two “Monkey with Grapes” themed mascots, but the other has the monkey hiding the grapes behind his back, and with that one mounted, he can’t get the hood open.

Top This

This is the third time this mascot has appeared in one of our blogs. There’s a reason for that.

Brass Indian On Snail Mascot

An American Indian in full headdress and cowboy boots, saddled up on a giant hornéd snail, complete with chain bridle – can we get any more fanciful?

CARMA is a publication of The OM Dude Press
a service of Options in Mobility
Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist: Dick Stewart.
All photographs are by the author unless attributed otherwise

Click on the images to view more detail. If the cursor is a plus sign in a circle, clicking again will yield full resolution

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Monterey Favorites

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.

427 Cobra Curbside 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!

Brass Era Buick

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.

Vantage V12

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.

McLaren P1 Carmel

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.

289 Cobra Peael Street Monterey

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. 

Ghibli TIPO 115

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.

Ferrari 330 GTC Monterey

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.


Frogeye Yellow

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.

Super Seven

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.

356 Speedster

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.

Blue 911

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.

Black Giulia

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 Tour 2

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.

Most Elegant Open Car

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.

Flying Star Spider Fairway

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.

Alfa Spider Corsa

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.

Grey Silk Gloss 300SL Carmel

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.

Mary Tod 01

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 .

Mary Tod 02

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.

Gooding Packard Sedan

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.

Red Gooding Cobra

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.

1911 Fiat With Indian Riding Snail

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.

Bertone Ferrari Composite 2

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.

DB6 Shooting Brake

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.

Red Bentley DHC

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.

458 Challenge Evoluzione

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.

Black 275 GTB

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.

959 Konfort

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?

Scaglietti Spyder

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.

1954 Blue Mondial

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.

722 2005

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.


250 TdF Red andYellow

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.


F40 Concorso

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.

Cannonball Daytona Inset

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.

CARMA is a publication of The OM Dude Press
a service of Options in Mobility

Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist:
Dick Stewart.

All photographs are by the Author unless otherwise indicated.

Click on the images to view more detail. If the cursor is a plus sign in a circle, clicking again will yield full resolution

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Monterey 2015 – II

Monterey 2015 – Good, Bad, Ugly II

We’ve posted our take on the joys and frustrations of getting to Monterey, and what to watch out for if you attend Concorso Italiano. What about the rest? Here’s an abridged guide to how to make the most out of your trip.

No News

By the time you read this, the selection of Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will be common knowledge, but you can’t really write about Monterey Car Week without mentioning it, so we’ll get it out of the way.

Hemmings Best in Show Image
Obligatory image of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best in Show. 1924 Isotta Fraschini (“Fras-Keenie”) Tipo8A Cabriolet, coachwork by Ramseier & Cie Worblaufen. (Easy for you to say.) Nice car. As you can see from the attribution, we didn’t take the picture.

The Good

Where else but Monterey in August could you find yourself crawling in traffic on a two-lane country road, and get passed by not one, but two Bugatti Veyrons going the other way, nose to bumper.

No denying it. The cars are great. We’ve said before that you could sleep in your car and still see and hear some of the most beautiful, significant, fast and expensive cars in the world at Monterey, But really, who’s going to do that? If you’re not, then before you make your plans, you ought to know what you are up against.

Accommodations – The Bad

Don’t get us wrong. You can have a great experience staying in Monterey for the duration of the festivities. But be prepared.

August is Christmas for Monterey hostelries. To make up for low occupancy rates the rest of the year the rate at the place where we stayed was three times what it was a week later. Nice rooms in Monterey itself can cost over a thousand dollars a night during Car Week.

We used to trade driving time for room cost. That’s a devil’s bargain though. The Motel 6 in Watsonville, 33 miles from the Lodge at Pebble Beach up US 1 is the most reasonable. Yelp has some nasty comments about the clientele, but it was an acceptable place to crash. You don’t stay at a hotel near Monterey during Car Week to spend time in the pool. The problem is that those rooms sell out pretty fast.

Most everything else is north along US101, from Salinas, about 25 miles from the Lodge, to Gilroy about 28 miles farther, and Morgan Hill, about 11 miles more. No matter which route you take, both those drives involve stretches of road posted at 55 miles per hour, with double yellow lines for miles. If you find yourself behind a dawdler, you’d better pack a large cooler of patience.

Another thing about driving: despite all the high speed machinery on the road, everyone up there seems paranoid. It’s as if they are all driving with their cruise control set at the posted limit. It tends to jam things  up. Of course that’s when traffic is moving at all, which is not always the case. So don’t trust Google Maps’ drive times. During Car Week they are a joke.

We will only divulge the location of our former secret press headquarters under extreme duress. It is 49 miles from the Lodge, but the price is about one tenth the lowest you’ll find in Monterey. It’s not listed on Travelocity, and trust us – you get what you pay for.

The Ugly

Hollister 2009
Our secret press headquarters, 2009. Marlon Brando’s 1953 film
The Wild One was based on a real event that took place in this town.

There was no motorcycle gang riot during our stay. The manager does welcome bikers. Don’t get on her wrong side though. A misplaced key (no fancy card reader locks here) and a night spent sleeping in the car because we couldn’t rouse her at 11:00, had us deciding that regardless of the low rent, her quirks were just too quirky.

You only need check Yelp to find the shortcomings of that Motel 6 in Watsonville. What they don’t tell you about the motel in Salinas illustrates what attendees at the Monterey car events will tolerate to be within 25 miles of the Lodge for “only” $183 a night. In the morning there’s coffee, but not in the room, and not so much as a donut in the lobby, no refrigerator, iron, nor microwave; a silver dollar size stain on the only chair in the room, barely sufficient light at the sink to shave by, intermittent elevator service (and us with a 3rd floor room), and a maintenance crew that uses a gas-powered leaf blower to sweep the decks. If you plan on partying and sleeping in, this is not your place.

On top of that, they discarded the kitchenware we’d brought anticipating that restaurants wouldn’t be open at 5:00 AM. The one Siri recommended opens at 7:00. They did not remake the bed and provide a new bath mat (one day), and the small, uncomfortable pillows smelled of . . . well, I don’t know what. Our photographer’s room had been smoked in, despite the “no smoking” label, and there was no fresh soap in the evening.

Accommodations – The Good

You have to really plan ahead, and compromise.

If you want to take in the whole Monterey experience, you’ll either need accommodations a long way from Monterey, a really good friend who lives on the Peninsula – and a patron at Rolex, or a hefty financial commitment. Still, if you can limit your aspirations to the signature events, it’s possible to see the good stuff on a budget.

The best events are the Tour d’Elegance, the Motorsport Gathering at the Quail, The Historic Road Race Reunion at Laguna Seca, Concorso Italiano, the Gooding & Co or RM Auctions, and the Pebble Beach Concours. If you can get into the Quail, you don’t need any advice from us, so you needn’t read further.

If you are going to the Concours on Sunday, you’ll see all the cars, so you can skip the Tour. You can’t see the races and the Concorso, or the races and Pebble Beach at the same time, so make your choices and plan to stay just two nights. All you Los Angelinos do what we did for next year.

You have to search a little, but some of the booking websites can make reservations as much as a year in advance. You need to find out when the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is being held the following year (in 2016 it’s 8/21) and book as early as you can. It probably won’t save you on a bed but if you wait it will be too late.

Make reservations at a well-reviewed hotel in the Monterey area for Saturday and Sunday night. We found a nice place in Pacific Grove. Make your reservations for Saturday and Sunday night, and drive up early Saturday for the Concorso. Go to Gooding’s auction Saturday and Sunday night, and the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday. This saved us about a quarter of what we paid for five days at that flea trap in Salinas this year, and we’ll be within bicycling distance of the Lodge at Pebble Beach.


The Bad

You can’t be everywhere at once. Be content to attend either all of one auction or bits of several. If you do that, and stay several days, it’s possible to watch parts of maybe five different auctions. Check the on-line consignment lists to see where the cars that catch your interest will be bid. Some charge admission fees for spectators. The slick $100 two-volume catalog from Gooding gets you into that event. You won’t get into the RM auction without a bidder’s paddle. Watch it on the big screens.

Gooding Catalogs Large

Gooding & Co.’s slick two-volume catalog devotes as many as twelve full-color presentation-quality pages to marquee consignments. For $100 plus tax, it gets you and a companion into the hall with the high-rollers bidding on them.

The Ugly

It’s a matter of taste, but we’re put off by the livestock auction circus atmosphere of such auctions as Mecum, Barrett-Jackson, and Russo & Steele, with their rapid-fire high-volume auctioneering. If that doesn’t bother you, go for it.

Did we say the prices at the Concorso concessions are outrageous? How about $10 for a hot dog at Gooding & Co? We waited forever when the $15 sliders we ordered were accidentally delivered to someone else. On Sunday you’ll be riding the business-class shuttles back to your car – in the dark.

The Good

The highest bids at Monterey have been going to consignments at RM Southeby’s lately. They grudgingly gave us press access to the previews (you may have to pay $100 to get up close to some cars). This year their marquee lot was a 1964 Ferrari 250LM with an extensive racing history that sold for $17.6 million with fees. It was not on public display when we were there.

1956 Ferrari 250GT TdF

The 1956 Ferrari 250GT Tour de France Competizione above won the TdF that year, and the factory team lightweight 1953 Jaguar C-type below was raced successfully (three 1st place finishes at Goodwood) by Scottish racing team Ecurre Ecosse. Both sold for $13.2 million including fees.

RM C-Type

The Good(ing)

Gooding & Co. spreads a green carpet over acres of wood chips (not to mention the parking area and walkways) and sets up enormous aluminum and white canvas pavilions at the Equestrian Center above the Lodge at Pebble Beach.

The lighting and concessions are first-rate. (When they finally arrived, our sliders were fresh and hot, and to compensate for the mix-up, they gave our table three huge $5.00 chocolate chip cookies.) As bidding gets late (The final hammer falls around 10:30), Charley Ross (David Gooding: “The best auctioneer in the business,” with no argument from us.) cautions those in attendance to be careful when signaling for their free bag of kettle corn, so that they do not inadvertently bid on a multi-million-dollar car.

The cars are spectacular.

Bertone Ferrari Full Res

Very few Ferraris had bodywork by Bertone. Giuseppi “Nuccio” Bertone commissioned this car for himself on the Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta chassis. The stunning coupe sold for $16.5 million with fees.

Gooding 250 GT SWB California Spider

Even those for whom Ferraris are just expensive Italian cars that celebrities occasionally crash may know this one, in spite of themselves. It’s a real 250 GT SWB California Spider, the model immortalized in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It sold for $16.83 million, including commission, etc.

The Head-scratchers

1967 was a great year for cars. Among the flashes of brilliance was the Toyota 2000GT, a car constructed by Yamaha for Toyota that competed in price, specifications and performance with the contemporary Porsche 911S. Only 351 of these cars were built, a production comparable to rare and desirable Ferraris like the 250 GT Lusso. A few convertibles were built for product placement in the Sean Connery Bond film, You Only Live Twice.

Toyota 2000 GT

The car above is a rare left-hand drive 2000GT. Regardless of trends and million dollar expectations, it sold for $803,000 after fees.

Still, one has to wonder about how such values are decided, with this car selling for more than eleven front-engine V12 Ferraris at the same auction, including a bit more than two four-cam, six-carburetor 365GTB/4 Daytonas, often called the last of the great front-engine Ferrari sports racers.

Dirty Cars

Another value anomaly is the “barn-find.” We can understand the attraction of a well-preserved car if the original car was significant, but if it’s a beat up car that’s not particularly rare, and the upholstery can’t be sat upon, where’s the value?

Lot58 Ferrari Barn Find 1962 250GTE

Nearly 1,000 copies of the Ferrari 250 GT/E were made. If any Ferrari can be classified as “ordinary” this dirty barn find is close. You can’t really call it original, since the first owner had it repainted. Someone paid $418,000 to take it home. Another similar car at the same auction, properly restored, cost the buyer nearly twice that, so perhaps even a costly restoration might be worth the expense – if the owner does not keep it as is. 

Fiat Eden Roc with Inset

Only two examples of of this Fiat 600 Eden Roc were built. This is the one that was displayed (inset) while on loan to the Petersen Automotive Museum. Where you’d  look to confirm it we do not know, but it’s a pretty safe bet that no other Fiat 600 ever sold for more than the buyer paid for this one – $660,000. 

Sunday, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

The Ugly

There is no getting around it. Parking for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance sucks. You can take a Taxi, Uber or Lyft; or hire a limo (if they are not already taken) but otherwise you park at one of the seaside lots at Spanish Bay and ride the shuttle buses. They are nice buses. They even have seat belts. But you are their prisoner for the day.

Gooding Pavilion

A nice variety of consignments greeted us at the Gooding & Co. Pavilion Sunday morning when we got off the shuttle bus. It was a good deal darker then. The nicer temporary restrooms are behind the hedge and screen on the right.

If you spring for the Club d’Elegance ($500 per car last I checked) you get VIP parking, which this year was near where the Shuttle buses stop. They may still have luxury cars that shuttle you from there to the Lodge. Other perks used to include one free poster of the Concours, signed by the artist, a commemorative paperweight, and catered breakfast and lunch.

Try to get to the parking around 6:00 or 6:30. That puts you at the lot nearest the Lodge, for the shortest ride to the Equestrian Center. No, the shuttles do not take you to the Lodge. It’s a bit of a hike from there (about a half mile), but once past the Golf Academy it’s downhill.

The Predawn Trudge To The Lodge

 The predawn trudge to the Lodge. Don’t leave your tickets in the car. Remember, you’ll be climbing back up that hill after a day walking the eighteenth fairway.

Concessions Pebble Beach

Concessions at Pebble Beach were somewhat more reasonable than at Gooding & Co. The menus changed later (this is a little before 7:00) with more choices. There is nowhere to sit and eat – nowhere. The commemorative program is $40. They hand out pocket guides to the cars on exhibit so you don’t really need it.

Pebble Beach Ugly - Gas Prices

Parking near the lodge and stores is scarce, but if you have reason to drive there, fill up before you go. It was $5.00 for a gallon of regular unleaded at the Lodge pumps ($5.25 for 91 octane), compared to $4.00 in Salinas.

The Better

As you trudge down past the hospitality pavilions of the various concessionaires like Infiniti, Cadillac, Kia, Tesla, or whoever, they will offer you stuff to eat and drink. Infiniti usually does it best with a catered snack spread later in the day, but that involves climbing the hill. One year they had one of those TV chefs preparing a nice entrée with two wines to sample.

There is a restaurant by the Will Call at the “Bag Drop” (They play golf here, too, you know – just not this Sunday.) with a very limited menu, but it is real food (not a “breakfast sandwich”), and you can sit down while they serve you at your table, so if you budget for it, you may justify it.

Practice Green 6:53 AM

Even if you had the advantage of the luxury shuttles to the Lodge, you still have a long walk to the 18th Fairway. This is the practice green, 6:53 AM, with concept cars and start-up prototypes on display. There are more restaurants in the Lodge, behind.

The Pre-Entrance Gantlet

Between the practice green and the actual entrance to the 18th Fairway where you get a lanyard to hang your pass on, it’s another downhill walk past the booths where they sell the poster, program, and chances to win a car, a Rolex, and jewelry. It’s all for charity. They raise over a million dollars for local causes.

On the Fairway

If you get to the 18th Fairway early enough, you get to watch some of the cars arrive. This can be an aural experience as well as a visual one.

Auburn Speedster Arriving

Early arrivals get to watch some of the cars drive in and stage. Here an Auburn Speedster, probably the 1928 8-115 of Al and Barbara Mason, attracts admiring looks and shutter snaps.

Libations Pebble Beach 2015

You can infer a lot about the target audience from the menus at the concession stands. From the above, you might expect many of them to be hung over. And they are not poor, if a bottle of Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque 2006 and two glasses costs $325, plus tip.

CCC Award Winning DuPont

The Concours honors particular marques each year, and this year was duPont’s, turn, among others. This is the winner of Class D and Classic Car Club of America Award, one three examples of the Model H built, owned by Richard Riegel, Bedford Hills, New York.

1929 duPont Model G Merrimac Special Sedan

2nd Place in Class D went to this 1929 Model G Special Sedan with coachwork by Merrimac owned by Lammot J. duPont of McLean, Virginia. Six of the marque were entered by duPonts. Curiously, none of the literature mentions any family affiliations.

Ephraim Photo Shah's Bugatti

Apparently their 1929 duPont LeMans Replica Boattail Speedster was nominated by the Petersen Museum but not accepted. Their spectacular 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet was. The French gave it to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as a wedding gift. It won the French Cup, and took second in Class J-2 to the car below, the 1937 Delahaye 145 Franay Cabriolet of Sam and Emily Mann, which also won Most Elegant Convertible and a nomination for Best in Show.

Class Winner and Best in Show Nominee Most Elegant Convertible

Got to Have Ferraris

After a Ferrari won Best in Show last year, what could they do for a follow-up? They brought back some of the Ferraris that raced in the original Pebble Beach Road Races “among the pines” starting in 1950. On Friday, those cars participated in a “parade” at a spirited pace around some of the roads on which the race was staged.

Staging Race Ferraris

Ferraris that participated in the original Pebble Beach Road Races stage for a drive around the original course.

Race Ferraris Winner

Winner, Class M-3 for Pebble Beach Road Race Ferraris, 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Pinin Farina Spyder Series I of  Thomas R. Peck.

Race Ferraris 2nd

2nd Place: 1952 340 Mexico Vignale Spyder of Les Wexner. Mr Wexner also owns the third-place car, the 1955 857S Scaglietti Spyder below.

Race Ferraris 3rd


Among the other special classes this year were Custom Mercurys from 1949 – 51. The custom shop in the Streetscape of the Petersen Museum used to have one of these “lead sleds” undergoing customization. A Petersen event celebrating these cars featured a rendering of Bob Hirohata’s chopped ’51. It was here on the grass at the Concours, along with the James Dean car from Rebel Without a Cause and others.

Hirohata Mercury

One of the cars that set the standard. The Barris Brothers chopped the top of Bob Hirohata’s ’51 Mercury Coupe and removed the B-pilar.

Rebel Without A Cause Mercury

James Dean was more of a sports car guy than a custom aficionado, and he died before this mildly customized ‘49 appeared with him on screen in Rebel Without a Cause, but that did not prevent it from becoming one of the most famous movie cars in history.

Faces in the Crowd

There’s no telling who you’ll run into at Monterey – literally. In 2006 we were at the RM Auction, turned around abruptly, and smacked into Reggie Jackson, who had been selling some of his collection.

Chuck Cantwell

If you read our July 25, 2014 blog on Shelby’s Step-child, the Shelby Mustang GT350, you’ll know the significance of this guy. Chuck Cantwell is the Chevrolet guy who Carroll Shelby recruited to run the development program for the car when he couldn’t be bothered to do it himself.

2 Views GT350 5S003

The car Chuck drove in the Tour, SFM5S003, the street prototype. There’s a story about the first Cobra being repainted over and over to fool the press into thinking there were a lot of cars. In a similar deception, this car has steel wheels on one side and Cragar semi-mags on the other, so that photos implied there were two prototype street cars.

The one incident that would have been ripe for name-dropping remains undocumented. Our first year at Monterey our camera battery died before we witnessed Brock “The Assassin” Yates bantering with Cannonball co-driver Dan Gurney and Automobile design critic Robert Cumberford about his class-winning dirt track racer, the Eliminator.

Bangle and Rahal

Left: Concours Judge and automotive designer Chris Bangle, responsible for BMW’s controversial “flame surfacing” look, particularly the ugly cut line on the trunk of the E65 7-series of 2001 – 2008.
Right: Three-time CART National Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner (as driver and team owner) Bobby Rahal answers questions about his GT350.

Tail of Two Stutz

Generally a preservation class car is one that has been lovingly cared for over many years, while a barn find is a car that has been neglected for a similar length of time. At the Tour d’Elegance, and later on the Fairway, we got a look at a car that blurs that line.

Wayne Carini And Judges

Collector, Restorer, and Chasing Classic Cars host Wayne Carini relates the story of his 1921 Stutz Model K Bearcat to the Concours judges, while his TV crew captures the scene.

In 1921 an Army surgeon, Dr. William A. Hagins, bought a new Stutz Bearcat. He enjoyed the sporty runabout for ten years, and when it began to run a little rough he took it home, put it up on bricks and removed the head. It turned out to be nothing more than a little carbon build-up, but before the repairs were completed, he passed away. He left his estate to his caretakers, who didn’t touch it. A retired Army officer who was hunting on the property discovered the car, and Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars acquired it.

2 Stutz

A rare chance to see what a barn find might have looked like when new. The car on top is Wayne’s 1921 K, the winner of the FIVA prewar preservation trophy, while the one on the bottom is the First Place car in Class B for Vintage Cars, a 1920 Stutz H Bearcat. The only major difference is under the hood, where the Model K engine has a detachable head. Wayne had no explanation for the running board-mounted seat.

All that was required to recommission the car was a new head gasket, a fan belt, and new tires. Everything else about the car is original and as-found, except for the dust and critter droppings. We heard the car idle, and it’s as smooth and sweet a sound as you are likely to hear from a 94 year-old sports car.

We spoke briefly with Mr. Carini as he was waiting for the Judges, and as we’ve learned over twelve years going to Monterey, the people involved with these cars are as eager to talk about them as you would be about your own project car. We are drawn to these events by the beauty, engineering sophistication, and dazzling presentation, but it’s the stories that stay with us.

CARMA is a publication of The OM Dude Press
a service of Options in Mobility

Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist:
Dick Stewart.

All photographs are by the Author unless otherwise indicated.

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Monterey Week 2015

Monterey – Good, Bad, and Ugly – I

It’s common knowledge that Monterey in mid-August is the time and place to slake your thirst for viewing, hearing and touching beautiful, exotic, fast, expensive and rare automobiles. If you have not actually attended though, you may not be prepared for some of the other aspects of the experience. One of those is –

Getting There and Back

You could probably name a number of ways to get to Monterey and back. If you don’t drive there though, whatever your travel mode you will need a way to get around when you get there.

A Word on Car Rentals

Once in Monterey, you will have to beg, borrow, or rent a car – or take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. Public transportation is virtually non-existent. From the preponderance of late model cars in the parking lots with no license plate frame and UPC code stickers in the windows, renting is the overwhelming preference.

The guide that Sports Car Market publishes for the Monterey events starts on the Monday before the Concours at Pebble Beach. It’s worth your while to consult it when booking accommodations and transportation to make sure you don’t miss that memorabilia sale that has the Winton poster you wanted.

Watch the internet though. This year Ferrari held its gathering the following week, and there are events that precede the week itself.

You will be competing with a host of other attendees, so make your reservations well in advance. Different rental companies have different policies, so check on how far in advance they accept reservations.

In Los Angeles you can rent a Lamborghini, but the sportiest car most rental companies can fathom is a Mustang or Camaro Convertible. I don’t know how they manage it (rental companies studiously avoid promising a specific model) but somehow people ferret out every one this side of the Rockies, and they are all on the Peninsula for the week. You can always ask.

Out-of-state attendees will probably fly into the Bay area and drive a rental to the events. Day trips are possible, but if you try that, plan on leaving early and packing a big bag of patience.

Amtrack runs from Oakland to Salinas if that’s your style. That’s within 18.4 miles of the Portola Plaza Hotel in Monterey, where the RM Southeby’s auction cars are on display. “27 minutes without traffic,” Google Maps says. Right. We’ll get into that in a later blog.

For Los Angeles area residents, their Coastal Starlight train (about $56; Premium “Roomettes” for $126) from Union Station in Los Angeles also takes you to Salinas.

Regularly scheduled flights to the Monterey airport by United are about $200 round trip. Book a year in advance if possible.

You can rent a car at the airport or train station – but once again reserve it a year in advance or so. Practically every available car in a 200 mile radius is sucked up by those who don’t have the option of driving their own car to get there.

Oh, and just so you know, the Concours at Pebble Beach is on August 21st next year. Plan accordingly.

The Great Drive

If you live within driving distance, it’s only natural to go to a car extravaganza in a car. If you live as we do, in the greater Los Angeles area, there are three main routes.

Over the Grapevine onto the San Joaquin Valley via Interstate Five and coastward on State Route 156 from Los Banos is probably fastest, but also the most tedious.

Taking U. S. 101 through Ventura and Santa Barbara, north through Beullton, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo and El Paso de Los Robles to Salinas, and west on State route 68 is the other alternative to the one preferred by motoring enthusiasts.

That’s the Cabrillo Highway (U.S.1, Pacific Coast Highway, or just PCH), that follows the U. S. 101 route as far as San Luis Obispo. For those who love driving, part of the pleasure – and the frustration – of Monterey is in driving PCH.

In our blog, “The Cabrillo Highway – Worst Kept Secret” (08/21/2012), we alluded to them. What it didn’t say is that the drive home by that route serves as an event unto itself, easing the letdown of having to leave Monterey.

PCH Vista 2015August 12, 2015. The drive along the Cabrillo Highway (US1, Pacific Coast Highway, or just PCH) between about San Simeon and Carmel is acknowledged to be among the great scenic motor tours in the world – when it’s like this. What they don’t say is that it’s often fogged in, so when it clears you appreciate it.

While it’s possible to have a great experience driving the Coast, keep in mind that practically the entire automotive world has the same idea. There are both good and bad sides to that, but if you don’t plan for it, it can be ugly. So plan.

The Good

2009 Challenge Stradale Ragged PointThe real fun starts here at Ragged Point, where we met the driver of this Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale that had cleared the traffic revenuers from our path just north of San Simeon in 2009. We’d been together since he’d overtaken us near Santa Maria, driving at an entertaining pace.

On the trip up, you begin to meet some of the people and the cars that will be participating in the same events you will be attending. It’s sort of a road-going preview on the way up, and a postlude on the way back. We’ve posted these before, but they illustrate the point here.

16 Of 50 Pismo Beach
More typical weather, Pismo Beach, 2012. Lamborghini Murcielago, California vanity plate “16 OF 50.” 

Lamborghini Murcielago 16 of 50Concorso Italiano 2012. The owner (whose name is since lost) explained that this was the sixteenth of an anniversary edition of fifty examples built. For Star Trek: Voyager fans – no, it is not a Borg designation.


Your pace driving the Cabrillo Highway is up to you.

A leisurely pace allows you to glance over now and then and get a feel for where the best views are – when it’s not too foggy. There are many view points where you can stop, take your time, and get some pictures if you are so inclined. Get it out of your system and then keep your eyes on the road. Please watch your mirrors. There are plenty of turnouts, so you needn’t be a rolling road block.

Driving at competitive speeds is a bad idea. Take a hint from the owners of the exotic machinery you’ll meet, who have the sense to leave that behavior on the track where they don’t put it or themselves at risk. You’d just be frustrated by traffic anyway, and there are rock slides (one once cost me a wheel and tire) to consider. Besides, the California Highway Patrol does maintain a presence.

CHP 2012 With BenDrivers of vintage sports cars were caught by CHP Officer Ben Grasmuck at Big Sur Coast Gallery and Cafe as they headed for a rendezvous at Lucia – through the long lens of his Nikon DSLR. In our 2012 interview, while tolerant of recreational driving, he wasn’t about to endorse illegal behavior.

Anyway, cliff faces and steep drops can be unforgiving, and drifting into the oncoming lane if you take a corner too fast is not recommended.

So if someone who thinks he’s faster than you sticks his nose up your tail, don’t speed up. Pull over at one of the many turn-outs and let them by.

Driving as Meditation

The most satisfying approach, we’ve found, is to treat driving as a form of zen meditation. That is, you empty your mind of everything other than the task at hand – no thoughts about where you are going, how you look, when you will get there, or what you will see when you do. Pardon the tired expression, but the idea is for you, the car, and the road to “become one.”

It takes practice to let go of a conscious thought about when to brake, where the corner apex is, when to get on the accelerator, and how much. It’s the delicate balance between intellect and intuition – the left and right brain – that we wrote about twenty years ago when this was a printed newsletter, quoting from the late Denise McCluggage’s “The Centered Driver” in Autoweek.

If you have not tried it before, ease into the practice gradually. A moderate pace helps, as you gradually get a feel for the rhythm of the road. It’s not necessary to go very fast to enjoy it.

Another Level

Driving at a more elevated pace takes all that and raises it a notch. There are corners with advisory speeds posted from 50 mph down to 20 that are fun to exit at recreational speeds (“slow in, fast out”). In a well sorted-out car with sporting capability, you’ll soon learn how much you can exceed those suggestions comfortably, while making sure you are in the proper gear for a smooth exit, ready to transition to the next corner. In that they are useful.

A word about double yellow lines. It would be irresponsible to suggest you ignore them. On the other hand, some people drive these roads at such a slow speed (and haven’t the courtesy to pull over in a turn-out), that passing them on a stretch of road where you can see a good distance ahead, and you know your car’s capabilities, seems to us no more dangerous than driving around a rock in the road when you can see it’s safe. Use good judgment.

The Bad

Between the Route 46 cutoff to Paso Robles and Carmel, there is only one narrow, winding road connecting the Cabrillo Highway with any other route in California (Nacimiento Road, from just south of Limekiln State Park to Bradley on US 101). If you have car trouble between Ragged Point and Big Sur there are only a handful of stops with a telephone. Forget about cell phone reception. The contractors who service the road know of a few lookout points where they can make and receive calls, but most of the way you are dependent on the kindness of strangers unless you have one of those satellite-based monitors like BMW Assist or On Star.

The other consideration is traffic. At any time of year the road is crowded with people eager for a view of the pristine coastline. During Monterey Car Week they are legion. Many of them are driving rented compact sedans – slowly.

Political PromisesThe Ugly: Construction crews and service vehicles are just two inhibitions to driving enjoyment on PCH. A sense of humor helps. Note the inscription on the honey wagon – “Caution: May Contain Political Promises.”

Others will be driving motor homes, many of them rented, so the drivers are unfamiliar with them and understandably timid in their driving style. Some will pull over and let you by. Really. We’ve seen it happen.

Then there’s construction.  The road is built on a cliff for much of its length. Parts of that cliff tend to break off. When it happens below the road, the road often falls with it. If it happens above, it blocks the road, or takes part of it with it down the slope.

Both of these happened so often at a place just north of Limekiln State Park, that after years of rebuilding the highway every time it collapsed and fell into the Pacific or became blocked with fallen rock, CalTrans and the Federal Highway people created two new structures – a bridge over the slide area, and the only project of its kind in the U.S., a rock shelter.

Limekiln Bridge With Rail

Limekiln Project, 2013.  The driftwood effect on the bridge railing (inset above) and the rock texture on the Rock Shelter (below) are creative applications of castings taken from actual rock in the area, and driftwood found along the coast, then artfully dyed in the forms. It’s gratifying to know that the political will, creativity, engineering prowess, and construction skills for such impressive civil engineering projects still exist in the U.S. today.

Limekiln Rock Shelter 2013

Outside the Limekiln project, the result of all that sliding is that at any time, there are usually two or three areas where construction has narrowed the road to one lane, with traffic signals regulating traffic so that it only flows one way at a time. If you are trying to make time, this can lead to teeth-gnashing. If you have patience though, it can be an opportunity to start a conversation with the driver of an interesting car.

Beating the Crowd

So what to do if you don’t want to be stuck behind a lumbering motor home for miles of twisting road? Leave early.

Get all packed the night before. Put the camera bag (bring extra batteries – charged up – and the charger), tripod, and clothes bags in the car. Don’t hang stuff from the hooks. They’ll just block your view and fall off in the first 20 mph corner. Put all your tickets to the events and the parking tag for the mirror, the directions to get to them, and the event calendar that Sports Car Market publishes every year in a big envelope and put it in a door pocket. Don’t forget your phone charger.

Put together a bag of non-perishable snacks you’re going to need on the road. There are no fast food joints between San Simeon and Monterey and the convenience store at Ragged Point is very limited. Put it in the footwell behind the passenger seat. If there are two of you in a two-seater, we’ll trust that you’ve figured out how to pack for that.

Everything but your toiletries bag and the cooler of cold drinks (and maybe a Tupperware of cold cuts), goes in the car the night before. Empty the ice cube trays into a plastic bag every night for three nights and keep it in the freezer until departure time when you pack the cooler. You don’t want to have to visit the QuickieMart on your way out of town.

Here’s the hard part. Get to bed early. Get up one way or another at about 3:00 am. You want to get out of Los Angeles early and pass through Santa Barbara before rush hour. If you can hold off on breakfast, you can sleep in another hour or so. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Buellton opens at 6:30 and it’s just over a two hour drive. Prices are reasonable, service is excellent that early, and the food is home-cooked good. Do not go to the Split Pea Palace

Mother Hubbard's BuelltonIf you leave Los Angeles at around 4:30, you should arrive at Buellton a little over two hours later, just as Mother Hubbard’s opens.

If you need a break, you’ll hit San Luis Obispo at about 8:00 (plus any time you spent at Buellton). Don’t miss the US1 exit if you don’t want to take the more boring route along US101 past El Paso de Los Robles. Roll past El Morro, Cambria and San Simeon (If you want to tour the Hearst Castle, make your reservation for the return trip.), to Ragged Point.

Stop and take a comfort break. Don’t bother checking your phone messages. There’s no cell service. Maybe have a snack, but go light on the fluids. You will want to take advantage of the few restrooms – mostly at campgrounds and picnic areas – before Bixby Bridge. There are none there.

Now is the fun part. If you have done it right, there will be few people in front of you, and those that are may be enjoying the road like you. Last time we got behind an Acura MDX (of all things) that was going at exactly the right pace for us, so we just settled back a ways and followed him.

There are just two real settlements until Big Sur – Gordo and Lucia. We’ve never stopped, but facilities appear minimal. It is to be hoped they’ll have phone service if you need it.

There is one stretch of about two and a half miles where you can safely pass a line of cars so they don’t hold you up in the next series of bends and switchbacks. It’s called Pacific Valley, and there’s a Naval station on the left going north, on top of a tall white rock hill just on the edge of the shore. You can see most of the road ahead from the top of the ridge approaching the valley from either direction, and we have explored 5th amendment speeds on that section. Once again, use good judgment.

If you do this on Thursday, you will arrive at the historic Bixby Bridge just as the cars in the Tour d’Elegance are passing on their way south. Set up your tripod on the inland side of the road and wait. If you neglected our advice about the campgrounds and picnic areas, you may have to look for a bush.

Bixby BridgeOpened in 1932 thirteen miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Bixby Bridge has become a favorite photo opportunity along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Bixby Bridge Tour Cars2010. Spectators vie for the best viewing and photo-snapping locations on the bridge as a Kissel Gold Bug (Really. I couldn’t make this up.) leads a Packard, a Rolls Royce, an unknown, and two Alfa Romeos across.

Northbound, the bulk of the recreational driving is over by Bixby Bridge, and certainly by the time the speed limit signs of Big Sur appear. Traffic steadily increases as you approach Carmel. Carmel Highlands General Store at Fern Canyon is our unofficial end of the Cabrillo Highway Scenic Route. We usually stop there to make an entry in the trip log and pick up cell phone messages. Here it’s time to come back to earth and face the other pleasures – and challenges – of Monterey in August.

(Note: This year the Ferrari people had commandeered the General Store and its parking for their hospitality events. There is no guarantee they won’t do the same in 2016. The next opportunity for a break is at Carmel Valley Road.)

The Trip Home

As mentioned above, the trip home, when it includes the reverse route down PCH, is an event in and of itself. Once again an early start is beneficial, but not too early. We planned on breakfast at one of the cozy little restaurants in Carmel, but discovered they don’t open until 7:00. We made do with coffee and a breakfast sandwich at a coffee shop off Carmel Valley Road

Feeling we’d made a good start, after Big Sur we pulled over to let the after-breakfast cobwebs dissipate. It didn’t work. No sooner had we pulled over when a roar of pipes announced the passing of a Shelby GT350, and we were wide awake. Thinking it might be our mechanic, Steve Beck, who had driven his ’65 GT350 number 258 up to the events, we took off in cautious pursuit.

We got close enough to see it was a ’66, so now we wondered whose it was. Steve would probably know, if we could get close enough to read the license number. Eventually we did: EEE TIKT – “Triple E Ticket.” We hoped he’d stop at Ragged Point where we could chat, but he kept on driving. At least we had the benefit of a nice cross-plane V8 sound track for a while. We asked Steve when we got home, if the license is familiar to him, and of course it was. Chris Bolinger is the guy’s name. We’ll look for him at the next Shelby Club Christmas party.

Traction Avant 2014Last year we followed MA DIVA, a Citroën Traction Avant, most of the way down the best part of PCH. A car built for just such a road, the Traction Avant had a combination of three features that was unique in the day, but are nearly universal now – unit body construction, four-wheel independent suspension, and front-wheel drive (thus the name).

Every year is different. Last year I posted a picture of an unfortunate Ferrari driver who found himself stuck behind a Highway Patrol SUV. Fortunately it pulled off eventually, so he could resume his own pace. What about next year?

Why not drive it yourself to find out?

A Note on Photos: A left click on your mouse blows the pictures up to full page size. If the cursor is then a plus sign in a circle, clicking again yields full resolution. Click the “back” arrow to return to the text.

All content is by CARMA; Your Automotive Advocate
A Production of The OM Dude Press
Dick Stewart
Author, Publisher, Driver, Gopher, Reporter, Editor-in-Chief
All images are by the  Author unless otherwise attributed

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All Ferraris Are Red

2015 Concorso Italiano

Bad Idea 2008

The low point in its history, back in 2008. The Concorso was held on concrete and asphalt at the airport. It moved to grass at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch in 2009 and stayed there for five years before finally settling back at Black Horse Bayonet Golf Links where we first saw it, to universal relief.

Partial Ferrari Field Attributed II

At the Concorso there are Ferraris covering the slopes of several fairways. This is just a small sample, with 550 and 575 Maranellos in front, a 458 (right foreground) and rows of 308s and 328s along the other side of the fairway. The ancient Monterey pines of the golf course form a perfect backdrop in deep green.

One Place at a Time

We’ve commented before about the frustration of having several auctions going on at one time, and only being able to attend one. The celebration of Italian culture known as the Concorso Italiano presents a similar conundrum. Do you see the cars, or watch the presentations?

2004 Award Stage Manguta

Back in 2004 we had to be there on the stage when the judges awarded a Best in Class to a DeTomaso Mangusta. (One once graced our family’s garage.)

There’s a master of ceremonies who keeps up a steady patter as he talks to the owners of selected cars staging in front of the grandstands. But that’s only a small segment of the cars on display.

On Saturday, the hilly fairways of Blackhorse Bayonet Golf Links in Seaside, California are positively crawling with seductive Italian sheet metal (and aluminum and carbon fiber). It takes all day to wander among the Alfas, Ferraris, Fiats, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and so forth, if you really look at them. It’s thirsty work, and you build up an appetite.

Alfa Hospitality ATTRIBUTED

Last year Alfa Romeo returned in force to the U. S. after what seemed to Alfisti an interminable wait. this year they celebrated with a hospitality pavilion serving espresso, cappuccino and catered snacks, all in exchange for a little information. It seemed a fair trade, given that hot dogs at the concession tents were $6.00.

Alfa Spyder Attributed

The new Spider version of Alfa’s 4C. It’s in the spirit of the lightweight, nimble cars Alfa is famous for, placing driver enjoyment foremost in priority. Car and Driver voted it number two on their list of the prettiest new cars you can buy now.

Spyders In A Row Attributed

Somewhere along the road, sporting Italian convertibles became known as spiders (sometimes “spyders”). The above are various versions of the one that even people who don’t know much about cars may recognize. It’s the one that ran out of gas with Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) driving near the end of The Graduate.


In 1967 our motorcycle touring took us to Expo ’67 in Montreal where we saw the prototype of this car, as yet unnamed, but thereafter known as the Montreal. Under-appreciated over the years, it is gaining some respect for its Marcello Gandini design for Bertone, its racing-derived, flat crank, dry-sump 2.6 liter V8, and decent road manners. This was the front-engine V8 that Ferrari never made

Petersen Little Boat ii

The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles displayed their Ferrari “Little Boat” (Barchetta in Italian), the last one built. It is one of one, built on order from Ford for Henry Ford II. The only one on the long Europa chassis, it is powered by the larger 212 V12 of 2.7 liters, with three dual carburetors. It has never been restored, riding on the original whitewalls suggested by a member of the Firestone family to go with the black and white color scheme.

275 GTB Attributed

Among the sexiest Ferraris, this 275 GTB was similar to the one being offered at Gooding & Co, with the dreaded line, “Estimate Available Upon Request.” Last summer the red one owned and driven by “King of Cool” Steve McQueen sold for $10.175 million, 2.7 times what a similar car earned at the same auction.


All kevlar, carbon and 471 horsepower 424 pound-foot turbo V8, Ferrari’s F40 “made it okay for Ferrari supercars to exist divorced from racing intent. Without it, there would be no LaFerrari” – Road & Track, 8/15. It was the first production car to surpass 200 mph – by 1.4 mph. (see below)

Enzo and LaFerrari

Evolution: An example of the perhaps infamous Ferrari Enzo (foreground) poses with its successor, the hyperexotic hybrid LaFerrari.

Aventador and Friends Attributed

All Ferraris may be red (even when painted another color) but a Lamborghini can be any color, as long as it’s not timid. Often it’s a shimmering pearl like this gnarly Aventador.

Huracans Attributed

As if to validate the above, these examples of the latest works of automotive art to wear the fighting bull, seduce us with mouth-watering flavors of iridescent lime, orange, and lemon.

Iso 01

Lesser-known Italian marques also attract the eye, like this handsome Iso Rivolta, clothed in Bertone bodywork and powered by a small-block Chevrolet V8.


Later iterations, like this Iso Grifo, were powered by  Chevy big blocks, as large as 454 cubic inches. The awkward penthouse hood bulge necessitated by the bigger engine must have caused master designer Giorgetto Giugiaro nightmares.


BMW gets lots of traction from its claim to have invented the compact sports sedan with their 2002tii, but that car was introduced in the ’70s. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Super came out in 1962, with an all-alloy dual overhead cam 1,570 cc four of up to 110 horsepower in a 1,000 kg (2,200 pound) car.

As indicated, we did not hang around the presentation stage, but the PA system is pretty powerful, so when Ephraim heard the name Dino Crescentini, we had to investigate. This is him below (in the white shirt) and his Class 105-winning 1967 Giulia. I didn’t get the other guys’ names.

Dino With Giulia

Giulia Special Dino

Here’s one of just the car. About thirty years ago Ephraim took his 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV to Dino in Burbank. That was Alfa Recambi. Dino rebuilt the engine at his Santa Monica shop, and it’s still one of the strongest injected 2000 GTVs around.

As a long standing member of the California Alfa Romeo Association, Ephraim was attending the Concorso Italiano well before we ever did. In fact, it was probably his enthusiastic description that was the push that finally made us take the leap

Anniversary Cakes Attributed

There were celebrations all around on 2009 when the Concorso moved back on the grass at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch. Serendipity reigned, as Alfa Romeo was marking its 100th year, the Concorso its 25th anniversary, and the Alfa Romeo Association its fiftieth. Ephraim got us a place at the table for the festivities.

Ferrari owners almost have to be knowledgeable about other Ferraris. One does not acquire a Ferrari lightly, and in the process of researching the purchase, one learns a lot about the various models. Moreover, the best way to learn about a car one is considering is to join the club. We had a similar experience after releasing a Porsche, briefly maintaining an “Associate Membership” while “between Porsches.”

So as a former (and presumably future) Ferrari owner, Ephraim is both our connection to the culture, and our teacher. His knowledge and insight constantly inform our experience at these events.

348 Coupe Attributed

Ferrari 348 TB (Transversale Berlinetta). Once one is bitten, you’re always looking for your next one, and a conversation with a similar car’s owner revealed that it was indeed for sale, but the wrong year. (These things matter!) Ephraim’s 348 was a”TS” (Transversale Spyder), differing from this one in its removable roof section. There was one other variation late in the model run, a true convertible simply called the 348 Spider.

 With Fiat now owning Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati (and a few others most of us have never heard of) it was interesting to visit the various hospitality pavilions. They were all catered by the same people. It worked out well for us. With our passes from the Alfa tent we were able to pick up some much-needed hydration at one of the Ferrari sites. Hot cars and hot sun – thank goodness for the breeze off the Bay.

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Dick Stewart
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All images are by the  Author unless otherwise attributed

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