Knocked out by Pebble

This was my first trip to Pebble Beach week. I had always wanted to go but for some reason I never had. I have been involved in classic cars most of my life and have traveled to many events half across the globe. I would come to enjoy the week with all it had to offer. Why it took me so long to go is beyond me!

The day came early, in fact at 3AM I would hustle a quick breakfast before heading to Reagan National Airport. I had a good attitude for such an early start in the day. I was galloping across the country for a great and memorable week. I arrived in San Jose, CA. about 45 minutes earlier than my friends Russell Glace, Bob Scibelli, and Rick Hartwell who were arriving from Palm Beach, FL. I changed terminals to meet them.

We found our rental car and drove south to Monterey. It was still morning, and a longer one for us. After checking in the hotel we were off to start the day. After a hearty lunch we checked into RM and Russo & Steele Auctions for our credentials and auction info. We were next off to Monterey Automobilia. I could have spent thousands on books alone but behaved. Prices were high to average depending on the exchange rate you were using. Here one could find a good assortment of books, memrobilia, artwork, and clothing which is normally unavailable to most. In the evening we all went off to Pebble Beach for a reception put on by Infinity called House of Inspiration, an inspiration of furniture and automotive design. After a few drinks we went to the Village Corner in Carmel for a glass of wine and dinner.

On Thursday the 14th we were off early to catch the 11th annual Pebble Beach Tour sponsored by Rolex. Several veteran cars built prior to 1916 were to start a shorter 9 mile tour. Included was a beautiful 1913 Lancia, one of the featured marque cars about to set off. The younger cars did the normal tour on parts of 17 Mile Drive. All the cars were displayed on the main streets of Carmel for lunch. I met Chris Laporte, the proud owner of a black Ferrari 410. Chris has owned this car since 1969 and drives it regularly. The 410 had also previously won the preservation class at Cavallino. My heart also skipped a beat when I saw a spectacular 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900SS owned by Tim and Lori Roberts.

Hunger setting, in we stopped at one of the local Carmel restaurants. After lunch we decided to drive south on route 1 towards Big Sur. The cars on the tour would also follow a similar route. We stopped at the Big Sur River Inn. We wanted to go in for a drink but they were closed for a wedding reception. We ended up buying a few drinks and walking down to the river where they have hand made wooden chairs nestled in the brook. One should take their shoes off and relax, we needed to decompress.

After a wonderful drive back to the hotel and a short nap we went to a spectacular reception put on by Russo & Steele. Among many fantastic cars there were several Jaguars; 1967 E-Type OTS, 1964 E-Type OTS, two 1960 XK150S DHCs, and a 1959 XK150 Roadster. There was also an interesting 1959 Austin Healey 100/6 Jamaican. This was a fiberglass coupe with issues, maybe a #3 car. Again the cars were fantastic, some more than others, just in different ways.

On Friday the 15th, after attending a short breakfast put on by RM Auctions we were off to Concorso Italiano. This was to be the first year the event was held at the Monterey Airport. I was told some of the ambiance was missing from the previous years. We split up to look at the different cars. I even ran into Jay Leno who was looking at the same group of Aston Martins as I was. He was having his photo taken by several people. Towards the end of their session he looked as though he just wanted to continue to look at cars just like the other car guys.

There were four Jaguars present; a nice white 1955 XK120 FHC OT with a C-Type head owned by Mr. & Mrs. Horton of Sonoma, CA, and three E-Types including a 1963 and two 1965s. Included in the British display was a very pleasant looking pale blue Austin Healey Sprite with a white hard top. Of course there was also a big showing of Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and Ferraris. Also present was one of the largest groups of BMWs I have ever seen. I also met Jorge Bujazan from Twaana, Mexico. He had a stunning Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 that his father had purchased new. His now 3rd generation son was helping him care for the car.

From afar, the Quail was said to have a spectacular showing of 100 cars. All the cars were to be grouped in separate classes such as Sebring cars, Can-Am cars, etc. I was told the food, music, beer, and wine all flowed generously. Walking to the Bonhams auction I spotted a 30 plus group of BMW Z8s in the parking lot. I could tell I would have a reality check upon leaving Pebble Beach Week.

Bonhams auction puts on a premier event. I would have to say they are in the top three best quality auction houses in the classic car industry. One very rare Citroen 2CV Sahara 4X4 sold for a hammer price of $80,000. This car is interesting because it has a motor in both the front and the rear that drive the different pair of wheels. I was also amazed to see an Aston Martin DB4GT sell for a hammer price of 1.2 million dollars. One 1951 Jaguar XK140MC FHC sold for a hammer price of $66,000. This was a nice red car going to a good home. A 90-91 Lister-Jaguar sold for a hammer price of $250,000. Lawrence Pearce manufactured this re-creation in England just like the original 1958 model. There was a nice ex- Luigi Scarfiotti 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spyder by Zagato that sold for a hammer price of $1,225,000. Suddenly a huge noise erupted when the ex-James Gardner/ Ed Leslie 1967 Chevy Corvette L88 Competition was driven in by Dick Gulfstrand. The loud thunder ended with a pop. During his introduction he mentioned the era that this car raced in was a time when racing was dangerous and sex was safe. The car was sold for a hammer price of $670,000. Following this car was a gorgeous blue 1953 Jaguar XK120 FHC with a MK2 motor that sold for a hammer price of $65,000.

I have always had a weakness for the ex-Maharaja cars from India. It is now impossible to export these national treasures out of the country. The ex-Maharaja Bahador of Jammu and Kashmir 1928 Rolls Royce Phaeton 1 Torpedo went for a hammer price of $1.5 million. Finally another star of the show, the ex-Dan Gurney/ Walt Hansgen 1960 Jaguar E2A Lemans Sports-Racing prototype sold for a cool $4.5 million hammer price. This was a fantastic car offered for the first time at sale to the public. E2A was the test car for the forthcoming Jaguar E-Type. During the auction I also ran into my friend David Kinney, also reporting on the auction. He gave me the latest copy of Cars That Matter, a more correct price guide that he publishes.

In the evening we strolled into the RM Auction where a bright red, supposedly un-restored 1969 Jaguar series 2 E-Type sold for $45,100 including commission. RM is another top notch auctioneer that puts on a good quality event having top notch, mostly classic sports cars. Another Jaguar that sold for the evening was a 1955 XK140 MC DHC. This was a rich burgundy color selling for $83,600 including commissions.

The nest day, Saturday the 16th was to be a busy day. We started the morning at The Lodge at Pebble Beach where Infinity hosted a breakfast to introduce the new G37X Coupe and G37 Sedan. These are nice cars and should do very well. We were also given a photo of the new G Convertible. Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice-President and Design Director of Infinity gave a brief description of the new cars to come.

We were soon off to the Rolex Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca. The day was a lot of fun. We wandered through the paddock seeing the spectacular array of historic and classic cars. This is an area where you come across many Ferrari, Maserati, and Jaguar C and D-Types. I also saw several Austin Healey 100M and 100ss. The vendor tents were also filled with great finds such as automotive books, model cars, and almost any automobilia. We broke for lunch. After a long line we were able to sit down surprising Harlan Hadley, a friend from Arlington, Virginia. We later all walked through more of the paddock area and booths throughout the track area. On display was a 1949 Jaguar XK120 Alloy Roadster. This was a 100 point car jointly owned by Jack Ruscilli and John Gelespie. This car was originally purchased on December 12th 1950 at International Motor Sports of Beverly Hills, CA. The XK120 was presented in Old English white and was just spectacular.

We would constantly run into other very rare cars such as a Siata 208 S. This is a sort of Italian V-8 Cobra of its day that was never produced in great quantity.

Back at the strait away on the track we saw some really great cars of their day at race, no one was holding back. At the courtesy of Lexus we were able to secure an ES 350 for hot laps during a caution. Julio, an ex-race driver from Argentina was our driver. What a ride, and what a track! Julio gave us three intense laps. The corkscrew was a strait down curved part of the track and is named that for a reason. At the crest you see trees and then it drops like a roller coaster. My stomach felt like a corkscrew at the bottom. We stayed for one more Race before returning to the Hotel for a shower and a change of clothes.

RM Auction was on their second night of sales. Despite the state of economy cars were selling for average to very strong money. Several cars caught my interest. A 1971 Jaguar series 3 E-Type FHC sold for $30,250 and an Austin Healey MK1 3000 sold for $111,100 including auction fees. A bargain for the night was a really nice 1952 Alfa Romeo 1900C Berlinetta that sold for a bargain $96,250 including auction fees. This car also participated in the Amelia Island Concours and then the Forza Amelia Rally. I remember the car well in both events. Had I had extra cash on hand, I might have defected to Alfa. On another extreme, a really nice Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible sold for $148,500 including fees.

Another notable Jaguar was a 1961 XK150 3.8 FHC. This was upgraded to S spec. The 2-tone burgundy red was not correct but made everyone stop to look at this stunning piece of art. Two stars of the show sold well. A slick triple black 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/ 4 Daytona Spyder sold for $1,485, 000 including auction fees. RM presented a hay barn find 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra. After a brief video the car drove in with a roar out of the mist and sold for a cool $605,000 including fees. This Cobra was a great car with a lot of interesting patina. Another star, a 1956 Ferrari 250GT Tour De France failed to sell at $3.9 Million. Two prominent Jaguars did sell. A 1965 E-Type S1 4.2 sold for $148,500 and a XK120 Alloy Roadster for $225,000 after fees. At 11PM, RM was still going strong but we were tired and still had no dinner. An apple strudel and double espresso did the trick. Yes I did sleep soundly.

Sunday the 17th was a big day, the main event had arrived. The four of us managed to valet our car at the lodge. We paid $20 each, this was worth every penny. We were given a tour of the featured cars on display. Cars had come from as far away as Hong Kong and Brazil. One of the featured Marques for 2008 was the Lancia, now 100 years old. One of my favorite cars there was the 1954 Lancia D24 Pinin Farina Spyder, owned by the Torrota Collection in Switzerland.

In its day Lancia raced Formula 1 regularly beating Ferrari and Maserati. When Lancia could no longer afford to race in Formula 1 it gave its remaining race cars to Ferrari. Ferrari raced these as Ferrari-Lancia D24s. There is also the 1923 Lancia Lambda Torpedo; these were the first unibody built cars made. There were many Lancia Aurelia cars also on display; they gave us the first V-6 motor in a car.

General Motors also had a grand display of Motorama vehicles. There were many proto type Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Chevrolet. There was a spectacular Cadillac V-16 452 Fleetwood Town Cabriolet on display from the Nethercutt Collection. Skip and Judy Barber also showed their 1938 Lagonda LG6 Rapide Drop Head Coupe.

I also recognized a 1951 Allard K2 Roadster owned by Martin and Dottie Stickley. I remember their car before it was restored. It was previously green and had once run the Mille Miglia Rally. The Stickleys moved from Virginia to Winter Park, Florida. They also own a nice Alloy Jaguar XK120.

One Jaguar that was represented was a 1954 XK120 SE Roadster owned by James May who resides in Winter Haven, Florida. Now it was lunch time and my hyper energy was fading. I had been invited to relax in the General Motor hospitality area where we had lunch. This area also had a great view of the awards area. Best of show went to Jon and Mary Shirley with their 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta. This of course was another spectacular car. On conclusion of the show we collected our car and drove up to the Gooding Auction.

Gooding and Company is another premier auction company. We were not able to attend the auction the night before due to a heavy schedule. That night Gooding was to auction several of Oprah Winfreys cars to benefit charity. There was also the large collection of Bugattis from the Dr. Peter and Susan Williamson Collection. This collection was expected to bring over 15 million but went for just over 24 million instead. The blue chip cars are still bringing strong money. It is the suspect, not so correct cars with incorrect motors or transmissions, and story cars that are a bit week in the marketplace.

The first car of the evening was a 1959 Jaguar XK150 Roadster with an estimate of $120,000 to $140,000 that sold for a hammer price of $90,000. This car did not have the correct transmission or motor. Based on these facts it still brought strong money for what it was. There was a 1960 Lancia Appia GTE Zagato that sold for a hammer price of $95,000, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso that sold for a hammer price of $570,000, a 1926 Bentley 6 1/2 Liter Simplex that sold at $900,000 hammer price, and a 1952 Jaguar XK150 FHC that sold for $115,000 hammer price. This was a -1 car, but the color was off a bit. A fantastic 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300C Mille Miglia sold for $2,350,000 hammer price. There was also a Spanish car/ Swiss design 1930 Hispano-Suiza H6C that sold for a hammer price of $560,000. Again, there were some truly fantastic cars here.

Monday the 18th was also an early rise. We were going home. I was waking from my week long dream. Somehow the drive back to San Jose Airport went quickly. Back to real life; with all the normal daily driven cars on the road. This experience made Pebble Beach week seem so surreal.