Day Three found us up bright and early in an attempt to beat the traffic that would inevitably clog the Valley as the first of the three major concourse events got underway simultaneously: Concorso Italiano and The Quail. The day dawned cool and overcast, as usual, but by 10 a.m. the sun was out and temperatures were on the rise.
We began at the Concorso, which as its name suggests is a mecca for all things relating to automobiles born in Italy. Our hosts from BMW had arranged for our tickets beforehand, but once we were on the scene it quickly became apparent the Concorso Italiano would include the inherent chaos for which Italians are famous. Our passes were mysteriously absent from the will call table, which looked more like some sort of lemonade stand, but after much prodding and badgering by our BMW P.R. escort the guy at the table relented and stamped our hands, indicating that we had already entered and could enter again at will. Because of the confusion we even scored a pair of VIP parking passes that enabled us to park on the hills above the event rather than having to slog back through traffic to park with the general population of attendees. Sweet.
If you’re a fan of Italian metal, you have to make the pilgrimage to Concorso at least once in your lifetime. The rolling greens were, predictably, dominated by that most famous of Italian marques, Ferrari. There were all shapes and colors, some rare, some not so rare. In one corner of the Ferrari concourse, no fewer than a dozen F40s were parked, the sum of which most people are unlikely to see in an entire lifetime barring attending an event like this.
Just about every well-known Italian make was well represented: Fiat; Alfa Romeo; Lancia; Maserati; and De Tomaso, whose cars were built in Italy despite being powered largely by American powerplants. There was even a corral for… wait, what the hell?
Course, my favorite section was that of Lamborghini. Despite lacking the storied history and head spinning diversity of the cars out of Maranello, the marque was well represented, with examples spanning the company’s history: 400 GT; a gorgeous pair of Miuras; Espada; the obscure Jalpa; Countach; a whole slew of Diablos in every hue; and an angry green LP 670-4 SV crouching at the edge of a sea of Murciélagos and Gallardos.
Possibly the coolest, and weirdest, car at the show, though, was this one: the Bizzarrini Manta one-off. Its body was designed by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro and was the first car produced by him through his then-new ItalDesign company. Its P-538 chassis was actually raced at Le Mans in 1966 with a different body, where a broken water pipe forced it to DNF. The Manta debuted at the 1969 Turin Auto Show and remains the only one of its kind in the world.
Later on we switched gears and headed down the road to the famously posh Quail Motorsports Gathering held at the Quail Lodge (also famous for its golf). Smaller than both the Concorso Italiano and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held the following day, The Quail distinguishes itself by being… well, nearly inaccessible by the unwashed masses. Maybe you could call it more exclusive, but most would probably just call it overly highbrow or snooty. Tickets run $400 each—yes, that’s $400 with two zeros—but they reportedly had no trouble selling out in a reported 90 minutes. Hell, at least the beer is free.
Show entries seem to run the gamut, from supercars like the electric blue McLaren F1, to ultra-musclecar Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, to a gleaming row of pristine Porsche Speedsters and 356 coupes.
Across the street from the venue, the Bonhams & Butterfields auction house sells off automotive xx to the highest bidder. And the bids do tend to run rather high, from more than $11,000 for this 1957 oval-window Beetle to millions of dollars for fully restored (or not) historic racecars. Sport editor Kerry Morse even stopped in and did his best to try and crash the party.
All in all, The Quail was an interesting venue and almost a must-see if you are trying to get the most out of the Pebble Beach experience. Given its relative lack of excitement and hefty price of admission, it’s unlikely we’ll be stopping back by anytime soon.
Bring on Saturday and Sunday!