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Monterey, 14 August 2009

After the disappointing 2008 Concorso Italiano at the Marina City Airport, many thought that the event’s number was up. However, with new owners running the operation, unbounded enthusiasm and much hard work, the event bounced back in 2009 at a new venue, and can only be described as a runaway success. The event found a splendid new location at the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, the rolling lush greens of which were a pleasant contrast to the bland airport apron of last year. A bonus was that the traffic management system seemed to work well. Yes, there were some queues, but nowhere near as bad as at the earlier venues that the gathering has used, and I would venture to say that there were more attendees this year. Certainly the concours field was packed throughout the day, both with an enormous selection of display vehicles and members of the paying public. The inland location also benefitted from warm sunshine throughout the day, harking back to its glory days at Quail Lodge, in fact some attendees likened it to the old setting, but on a hillside.

From the regular press releases that emanated from the new organiser’s office after the deal was signed, the features of the show as it developed looked promising, and on the day it delivered the goods. For the 25th anniversary of the Ferrari GTO (288), there was an assembly of fifteen examples, including an Evoluzione, chassis # 003, and the last of the production series, chassis # 58345. This was believed to be the largest assembly of the model at any show worldwide. Nearby there was the trio of amazing Alfa Romeo BAT cars by Bertone, with their extravagant wings, extricated from the Blackhawk Museum especially for the show, together with the latest incarnation of the tipo from Bertone. Renowned Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni was in attendance, and famous TV presenter, chat show host and self confessed car nut, Jay Leno, gave a warm appreciation of his contribution to the Lamborghini legend at lunchtime.

Mention of Lamborghini is appropriate as there was a vast array of the company’s production on the show field, ranging from the early sixties 350 and 400 GT models that started the road car business through a pair of white Espadas, one European and the other a US version, an impressive line-up of white Countachs, plus Diablos, multiple hues on Gallardos and Murcielagos, to a menacing deep matt grey Reventon, the most expensive model ever produced by the company, costing a cool $1.4 million! Ferrari were also well represented, apart from the impressive line- up of GTOs, there was a wide variety of the company’s models on display from the sixties through to the latest production models. De Tomaso had a healthy presence with a variety of Panteras, some with engine bays so highly polished that they dazzled you in the bright sunshine, plus a rare Mangusta. The Maseratis in attendance were predominantly modern, although there was a 3500 GT, a 5000 GT and a 1969 Mexico, which took the overall Best of Show award. There was plenty of variety in other Italian marques, plus the regular Corral’s for “foreign” cars. One car of particular note was a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS, which had just been brought out of South Africa where it had resided for the past fifty years with marquee aficionado Hugh Gearing. The car wears a body thought to have been fitted in the late thirties, possibly in the UK, and is in totally un-restored condition.
So with a great and varied field, fine weather, inviting food stations, a relaxed atmosphere with a great overall ambience, Concorso Italiano is back on stream with a vengeance. Make a note in your diary to be at the same venue on 13 August 2010.

David O’Neill