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Laguna Seca Golf Range, 16th of August, 2013

In our last week’s report on the Quail Motorsport Gathering we already mentioned that Friday is a very busy day during the car week at the Monterey peninsula as it does not only start the auction marathon with the Bonhams and RM sale but also features no less than three car meetings in the area. Beside the Motorsport Gathering there is the “Legends of the Autobahn” meeting down the road dedicated to German cars and the Concorso Italiano at the Laguna Seca Golf Range near the famous race track. Certainly one could not visit all of the events during the car week but for all fans of Italian cars the Concorso Italiano is a must and so we headed from Carmel Valley to Laguna Seca after the media preview of the Quail for a quick look around at the Concorso over noon.

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As traffic is usually a mess on highway 1 between Carmel and Monterey one should take the way over the mountain in the opposite direction of the Pebble Beach Tour the day before to avoid longer delays. When arriving at Laguna Seca the first surprise was a changed parking access compared to the previous years that led all the way around the golf course to enter the car park from the back roads. Arriving about 11 am the main visitor rush was already over and the cars were set up but one could imagine how the traffic might have been earlier in the morning.

After picking up the passes at the will call one was welcomed on the field by a duo of De Tomaso Mangusta and a couple of its successor, the Pantera. Originally intended for the American market with Ford engine and distribution by the Lincoln dealership the De Tomaso has a true fan base in the US and many of the hoods were open to show a clean and polished engine bay.

Next on the field was the line-up of Lamborghini ranging from a few early models from the Miura and the Espada to endless rows of Gallardo, Diablo and Murcielago. Having a more aggressive image than the contemporary rivals from Maranello traditionally many of the high performance sports cars from Sant´Agata are painted in fancy colours so the line-up was a very colourful mix from bright orange, yellow, green and blue compared to the sea- of-red in many of the Ferrari classes. As Lamborghini celebrates its 50th anniversary the marque was also featured at the main display aside the awards ceremony “arena” with the grandstands. Beside the common models of the 350 GT, the Miura and the later ones this display also featured some rarely seen models with the Jarama, Silhouette or Jalpa from a time in the mid-1970s when Lamborghini had a wider model range than today.

Next in line where the Alfa Romeo, unfortunately very few examples of the early history could be found here, most of the cars were from the Giulietta and Giulia era plus hordes of Duetto lined up very accurate giving nice group shots. Furthermore a couple of Alfa Romeo Montreal displayed their V8 engine, a novelty by the time in the Alfa Romeo serial production programme.

The left side of the festival ground was rounded of by the Fiat and Lancia line-up including some nice examples of the Fiat 850 Spider and Coupe, a very nice Fiat 1200 TV and the Osca engined Fiat 150 S Cabriolet that was already seen on the Concours on the Avenue on Tuesday. Lancia on the other side had some Appia and a nice burgundy Aurelia Spider in a rather small group.

More exotic was a group of Iso Rivolta including the Grifo and Lele.

When one is talking about Italian sports cars certainly most people think of Ferrari and so it is not a surprise that most of the displays featured the marque with the prancing horse. In the middle of the field the classic era of Ferrari was presented with displays of the 250, 275, 330 and 365 series plus the Dino 246 Gts. Unfortunately today´s Concorso does not seem to attract the Ferrari of the coach built era anymore as no example prior to the 250 series could be seen on the green that day. As these 1950s sports and race cars are for many Ferraristi the peak of the Ferrari history with the variety of different coachwork some visitors might have been disappointed by the absence of these early examples but looking just at a line-up of no less than 6 250 GT Lusso showed that this is complaining on a high level. Apart from true Ferrari Owners Club Meetings on rarely sees this amount of cars in a row. Even more interesting was the 250 GT SWB California Spider that was always surrounded by many spectators even during the lunch time, the car in Laguna Seca was the very last of a production of just 54 cars. The 250 series was rounded of by a duo of 250 GTE, the white car (4049GT) war originally delivered to Jaques Swaters of Ecurie Francorchamps in Belgium proudly wearing its plaque from the Liege Rom Liege rally and its lovely patina on the red upholstery.

Following the 250 series the engine displacement of the following generations was raised to the 3.3 Litre of the 275 series or the 4 Litre of the 330 GT. For many the 275 GTB is the best Pininfarina design and three 275 GTB in different colours could be seen at the Concorso. With increasing value of the classic Ferrari the 275 was a good compromise between value and driving fun on rallies’ like the Tour Auto in recent years but being well into the million dollar range now (as seen again during the auctions the following days) the sights of these might be also reduced in near future.

In the 330 class there was one particular car (7979GT) that drew much attention, the so called “Golden Car”. Based on the ideas of its first owner Norbert Navarro the car was designed and bodied by Drogo in a very extrovert golden livery making this freshly restored car a good example of “money does not buy taste”. Certainly not the best looking car of this era it still brought a smile on most of the visitors faces, be it admiration or just disbelieve.
Last group on the classic car lawn was the 365 series ranging from the 365 GT 2+2 that still features the design of the 1960s to the 365 GTB/4 Daytona and the 365 GTC/4 taking Ferrari in the 1970s.

The modern Ferrari section started with the introduction of the 8 cylinder cars and line-ups included the 308 GT4 by Bertone followed by the 308 and 328 by Pininfarina. Also a good number of the 5 litre 12-cylinder models of the 512 BB and Testarossa were lined-up, most of them in common red with a few exceptions.

Rather small this year was the display of Maserati. Just a few Sebring and 3500 GT were followed by the Merak and Bora on the field. Maybe next year when Maserati is celebrating its centenary and might be a featured marque on the other events the Concorso can also show more Maserati than this year.

As this is already a preview of next year’s Concorso Italiano one has to report that there a significant changes planned in 2014. According to the latest press releases the event will change both its venue and the date as the 2014 event will be held at the Bayonet Black Horse golf course in Seaside on Saturday. The new venue is already known from the 2002-2007 events but the more important change is the date. The idea behind the move to Saturday after 28 years on Friday is on one side to avoid an overlapping with the Quail event and to attract more people on the weekend with their cars compared to the working day on Friday. One could argue whether the Concorso Italiano really attracts the same visitors as the Quail as this is more a club meeting than a luxury event (as the Quail is without doubt) but the move to Seaside certainly takes the Concorso further away from the race track as some visitors took the chance to visit both the races and the Concorso at the same day. It is now only speculation what this move will bring for the future but next year we will know whether this was a good decision. Certainly it will mix up the timeline of many visitors of the Monterey car week that became routine over the last years.

Report & images … Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de