In order of their occurrence, these are the The Car Crush "12 Most Heart-Fluttering Moments" during Monterey Car Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance...
1. Peter Mullin and Voisin: Between the World Wars, France produced cars of such titanic technological and aesthetic achievement that I’m having some trouble wrapping my little head around it. So as my guide I’ve solicited the invaluable time and kind support of Peter Mullin, founder of the Mullin Automotive Museum located in Oxnard, California, who I interviewed in his trailer on Thursday at the Laguna Seca Historic Races for an upcoming feature. While the details of our conversation are forthcoming, I can reveal that Peter’s admiration for the achievements of Gabriel Voisin was among the topics, which is fitting as Gooding and Company was to sell a 1935 Avions Voisin C25 Aerodyne (for $1.75 Million USD) over the weekend. (Updated 10/30: Click here for my interview with Peter Mullin posted at Architectural Digest online).
2. Breakfast with Champions/Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe: One doesn’t decline an invitation from Rolls-Royce, so I leapt headlong - not unlike the firm’s “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot - at the chance for breakfast at the “Rolls-Royce Villa” with Chief Executive Officer, Torsten Muller-Otvos, and Director of Global Communications, Richard Carter. We had an intimate chat about global perspectives held by their unique clientele, and how Rolls-Royce satisfies their demands for cars that make, in Torsten's words, “absolutely no compromises.” Wasting their time with information they don’t require is a mistake, which is why the view from the driver’s seat of a Rolls-Royce isn’t a clutter of technology clamoring for attention but rather a well-edited selection of quiet yet clear and direct analogue dials relaying just the need-to-know facts like speed, and time, and reserves of fuel. Should the Queen of England wish to know further details regarding the journey, her Lady-in-waiting will advise accordingly.
As I was leaving the breakfast, my friends at Cool Hunting (click here for link) - Josh Rubin and Evan Orensten - arrived at the Villa to pick up their conveyance for the day, a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, and invited me to tag along. What’s a man to do but say “yes, please, thank you,” and away we wafted for editorial house-calls with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Ferrari - an afternoon I’ll never forget. Thanks all ‘round to friends in high places!
3. 1969 MGC GT on Route 1: Only during Monterey Car Week do you see a pristine specimen like this (in "mineral blue," as I learned from its owner) parked casually by the road. These are perfectly “British” in their proportions and sense of modesty and decorum, and capture the aura and feel of an Aston Martin without the six-figure price tag. What a lovely car.
4. BMW i3: I had expected this car to be good, but instead the i3 is a game-changer of Tesla-esque proportions. First is the pillar-less design and suicide-style rear doors that enable you to step rather than squeeze into the cabin where a bold new world awaits. A ribbon of eucalyptus wood designed to patina with time swathes across the dash, framing a Scandinavian-feeling interior more like a Georg Jensen-designed home in Oslo than a car. Seatbacks are made from recycled bottle caps, leather is dyed with environmentally friendly olive oil, and fuel economy is estimated at 95mpg. After rebates which vary from state to state, prices will effectively begin in the mid-$30,000 USD range when deliveries begin Stateside in May. Stunning.
5. Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S N.A.R.T. Spider: See my previous post "12 Cars Fit for a Candy Store" for more about this gorgeous Ferrari that set the record on Saturday for the most expensive road car ever sold at auction, ringing the register at $27.5 Million USD. Even at that price, I’d still say well-bought, particularly as proceeds are donated to charity.
6. Lamborgini Islero: For a few years now, this car’s had me sick with fever and I fear eventually it will consume me whole. On Saturday, Gooding and Company sold a wonderful example, silvery blue with caramel interior and teak wood gas cap, that once belonged to Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. On Sunday there was another on display, parked alongside the more boastful (but no less blissful) Countach. In Italian - refined, fast, tailored and chic is pronounced “Islero.”
7. Aston Martin V8 Vantage on display at The Quail: Certainly not the priciest car on display at The Quail but among those that will gain the most value in the coming years and - more importantly - it is stunning. This is what “Lana Kane” drives on the brilliant “Archer” animated television series and like her, the V8 Vantage is serving up sex and danger on a platter.
8. Aston Martin DB5 Volante: In the grass parking lot of The Quail, this drop-top was doubly beautiful as it was actually being driven in active use, rather than squirreled away in a collection (or subjected to the indignity of being put on display).
9. Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring Superleggera: Both an eyeful and a mouthful, I had seen a non-functional design model of this car at the Gooding and Company sale but didn’t know they were “real cars” until one screamed past me on 17-Mile Drive. So I chased it until luckily, the car pulled over so the drivers could swap places and I had a chance to take a closer look. Based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Coupe, the Disco is powered by the same (Ferrari-derived) 4.7 liter 8-Cylinder engine with production limited (presently) to six cars.
10. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Spider (1938, foreground) and 8C 2300 Corto Zagato Spider (1931): I am a total novice when it comes to the vintage-era Alfa 8C, which is an important lineage to in-the-know collectors due to their engineering prowess and drop-dead good looks. These two cars were, to my eye, among the most jaw-dropping cars on the Concours lawn at Pebble Beach.
11. Ferrari 212 MM Vignale Berlinetta (1951) and Ferrari 250 MM Pinin Farina Berlinetta (1953): The nature of their perfection rests in making beauty seem so easy, which of course it is not. I’m told they are equally brilliant cars to drive: perhaps I should have asked Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason who was at the wheel of his Ferrari 250 MM (Mille Miglia) Panamericana?
12. Lincoln “Executive Study by Boano, Turino”: As this car rolled past me onto the Concours lawn at Pebble Beach, for a moment everything else just fell away. Spectacular in every detail, I hoped against hope it would win “Best in Show,” which was awarded instead to the 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria which isn't featured here because, ahem, it didn't quite make my cut.