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Laguna Seca Golf Range, 17th of August

Last we reported on this year´s Motorsport Gathering at the Quail but this was not the only event held on Friday the 17th of August. Even with more tradition and earlier in its life located at the same venue before it moved the Concorso Italiano shares the same date. During lunch time we made our way from the Carmel Valley to Laguna Seca to visit the meeting of Italian cars near the race track.

Although sharing the same passion for classic cars the approach to the subject is completely different from the Quail. Whereas the cars are just one aspect of the Motorsport Gathering they are the main reason for a visit at the Concorso. The event looks very much like a car club meeting held by several different marque clubs at the same time. Endless rows of cars sorted by type gave an impressive view for enthusiasts of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo or Lancia. Owners of the cars meet to discuss their cars, the supply of parts or the best addresses of specialized restorers, families walk the lines comparing cars they rarely see alone in the traffic, not to mention the amount shown here.

The first marque to be seen when entering the event was Lamborghini. Dominant were the newer cars from the Gallardo and Murcielago range with the typical fresh colors of yellow, orange or green. But not just the new cars were displayed, several of the 1980s icon Countach, a few Espadas or 400 Gts were presented but also the rarely seen Islero, Jalpa or a Jamara that was just built in 327 units. Surprisingly few Miura were there this year, just an orange S at the center display and a silver one at the booth of Symbolic Motor cars.

Alfa Romeo was presented by numerous Duettos, 2000 GT Veloce and GT Junior, furthermore the beautiful Giulia and Giulietta Spiders.

Very popular in the US are the De Tomaso Pantera featuring Italian design with an American engine, a concept that was already popular with the Iso Grifo. Built especially for the American market the Pantera was distributed by the Lincoln- dealership, many cars at the Concorso were restored with love to the details including polished engine or rims. Rarely seen is the Vallelunga that is completely different from the Pantera. Whereas the later model featured a big engine with 5 litre displacement the Vallelunga is a small and nimble car weighting less than 500 kg with a 1.5 litre engine, the body was designed by Fissore and built by Ghia in less than 50 units.

Maserati was featured further back on the field, the most popular models of the Ghibli and Bora were lined up, older models of the Sebring, Mistral and 3500 GT were there in smaller numbers.

The most popular marque at the Concorso is without doubt Ferrari. The oldest Ferrari displayed was the 166 Corsa with Scaglietti Spider bodywork in fabulous unrestored condition. The car with chassis number 014I was built in 1948 and entered by the Scuderia Ferrari before it was sold and later rebodied with the current coachwork in the style of the 500 TR. The car drew much attention and was parked at the central display aside the beautiful white 250 GT Europa with green roof. The car (0419GT) was restored by Ferrari Classiche and was displayed at Pebble Beach and the Villa d´Este in previous years, at the Concorso it was voted Best of Show.

A few more of the 250 series could be seen including the last 14- louvre TdF (0707gt), s 250 GT Lusso and several 250 GTE. The later 365 Series was represented by a larger number of Daytona, all in red and a few GTC/4, the 2+2 version of the series. More colorful was the range of 246 GT Dino.

But not just pure sports cars were displayed at the Concorso, the Fiat 500 celebrated its 55th anniversary. Several versions of the crowd favorite were admired by the visitors alongside the new version of the Cinquecento, the display was under the patronage of Fiat USA.

Lancia had a small area but some interesting cars, the Lambda was one of the few pre-war cars on show, the Lancia Aprilia Zagato just finished its recreation at Zagato and was displayed by Andrea Zagato himself. The Lancia B24 Aurelia Spyder finished in a wonderful dark-green metallic color with red interior was without doubt one of the best looking cars of the entire event.

Beside the marque displays this year Concorso featured the work of Bertone. The Italian carrozzeria showed a few design studies including the new Nuccio and the BAT 11 of 2008 but also older ones like the Jaguar Pirana of 1967. But not just design studies but also production models like the Fiat X 1/9 and the Lamborghini models were displayed at the center of the lawn. Last year BoS, the beautiful small Stanguellini Bertone Coupé was back at the place of last year's success.

This year's Concorso benefited just like the Quail from the weather that Friday. In perfect sunshine many owners sat in camping chairs behind their cars chatting with other owners or interested visitors, a lot of picnic baskets and blankets were laid out making this a very relaxed meeting. A fashion show at the center stage and several sponsor tents entertained the visitors throughout the day. Maybe the special highlights seen at the Quail or Pebble Beach were missing this year but a great ambience made the Concorso well worth a visit. Unfortunately time is very limited if one wants the visit all events but one could easily spent the entire day talking with like-minded here and the sound heard from the nearby race track added to the atmosphere.

Text & images ... Peter Singhof ... www.ClassicCarPhotography.de