Classic car clan gathers for play... and to pay
By Larry Edsall
If the adjacent photograph seems familiar, it's because it shows the best-in-show celebration last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The scene will be repeated this coming weekend, though with a different car as the star. Being proclaimed best-in-show at Pebble Beach is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a vehicle.
However, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S with a Torpedo body by Saoutchik that won last year will be back on the Monterey Peninsula this week. Just not for show. Instead, it will be for sale.
The concours by the bay and the vintage auto races staged just a few miles inland at the Laguna Seca Raceway are where the car collecting clan plays on northern California's Monterey Peninsula. But it is at a succession of auctions where the clan pays for its privilege. Last year, the tally from those auctions was more than one quarter of a billion dollars, some $260 million to be precise.
Want a best-in-show car at Pebble Beach? Well, this year your can buy one -- the defending champion '28 Mercedes -- that comes with that honor, or you can go to the auctions and buy another car with such potential and then you can polish and prep it for Pebble Beach 2014.
The award-winning '28 Mercedes will be offered at RM Auctions Monterey sale, where the docket also includes 31 Ferraris, among them a 1967 275GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider (see photo) and a 1953 375 MM Spider, as well as eight others from the estate of collector William H. Tiley.
Next weekend's auction marks the 10th anniversary for Gooding & Company on the coveted grounds of the Pebble Beach complex. Pre-auction guesstimates have a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT 14-louver Berlinetta valued at between $9 and $11 million, making it a candidate for the most expensive sale on the peninsula... well, depending on what someone is willing to pay for something like the 1966 AAR Gurney-Weslake Eagle Mk 1, the first American car to win a Grand Prix race. Other highlights in the two-volume Gooding catalog include a 1935 Avions Voisin C25 Aerodyne, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante and a 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix racer.
Bonhams holds its sale at the Quail Lodge, where the docket includes the one-off, Vignale-bodied 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa coupe built for the 1954 New York Auto Show
In addition to an array of sports cars, Russo and Steele will feature several cars with long racing pedigrees, including the 1963 Ford Galaxie built by Holman and Moody and driven to victory at Riverside by Dan Gurney. Also on the docket is one of 37 1949 Ferrari 166 Inter Berlinettas, the first car Ferrari built primarily for road rather than track use. Also drawing attention to the 13th Russo and Steele event is a 275 GTB*S N.A.R.T. Spider, but this one is a post-factory conversion.
Mecum Auctions also will be on the peninsula with its fifth-annual "daytime" auction, where the cars include a 2006 Ford GT "heritage edition" car with only six miles on its odometer and a 1955 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spyder.
Featured classes at Pebble Beach
In addition to the usual array of amazing vehicles, the 63rd Pebble Beach concours d'elegance will feature coachbuilt Lincolns, the 50th anniversary of Lamborghini, the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911, the 90th anniversary of Aston Martin, as well as the Simplex marque (only 48 were built), coachbuilder Vanvooren, the BMW 507 and French motorcycles. Also, some 30 1931-39 Alfa Romeo 8Cs will be at the concours before starting their 1,000-mile tour of the Rocky Mountains.
Shows and tours, movies and motorsports fill out the week
What used to be a classic car weekend has expanded to fill a full week with the Concours on the Avenue; the Little Car Show; the Carmel Mission Concours,;The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering; Concorso Italiano; Legends of the Autobahn; the Barnyard Ferrari event; a Cars and Coffee hosted by Barrett-Jackson auctions; and several on-road tours, ranging from those featuring Pebble Beach concours entries to one for "Le Mons," cars of what might be termed significantly lesser value.
Wedging itself into an already crowed calendar this year is the inaugural World Class Automotive Festival, August 15-17 at the Golden State Theatre, where films range from the brand new "Snake & Mongoo$e" to the classic "Le Mans."
In conjunction with the launch of the C7 Chevrolet Corvette, the vintage races at Laguna Seca will feature Corvettes and especially the 50th anniversary of the famed "split window" 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.
Owls Head hosts 36th New England auction
If you can't get to Monterey, there's always the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Michigan or the 36th annual New England Auto Auction at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine.
(Top photo by Kimball Studios/Courtesy of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance)
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