Monterey 2007

You have all heard the old saying Wine, women, and song. This time of year, in the Monterey Peninsula, it is Cars, cars, and cars. August is the famous Pebble Beach Concour de Elegance, and all that goes with it. Since 1950, this event has been hailed as the finest of all automobile celebrations. An invitation to display your vehicle on the eighteenth fairway is among the highest of compliments. People from all over the world come to see some of the best cars ever made. From the earliest examples to the most futuristic, we are all obsessed by these creations. With each passing year, the dollar amount of charitable contributions this event raises continues to build. For information about Pebble Beach Concours, see www.peblebeachconcours.net

My colleagues and I were on assignment as contributors for our clubs magazine, newsletter, and website. We arrived in San Francisco late at night on Wednesday, August 15, 2007. The next morning we drove to the Monterey area. Our first day was the lightest of our six-day adventure. First, we visited Carmel to view an informal display of many of the concour cars that were there on tour that had stopped to display their cars. Several vehicles were pre-war and classics that are driven. An interesting fact about the Pebble Beach Concour is that if there is a tie in any class, a car that has been driven in the tour will win. Most of these vehicles are prized possession, priceless, and irreplaceable. However dozens of collectors bring their cars from all over the world and drive them as if they were after all transportation. As Mr. Ed Gilbertson, a chief judge of Pebble Beach, told me, they encourage the use of the automobiles and love to see these cars being driven.

For the event, the main street is closed in both directions as thousands enjoy the upscale shops, restaurants, and tour the show. This year I had a lunch appointment with friends from another car related activity, vintage rallies, and so my time in Carmel was short. I did however take a walk down the street of dreams to Carmel-by-the-Sea; quite a spectacular site. We then went to Black Horse Golf Course to pre-register for Concourso Italiano and the Kruse Auction. That evening was the Christie Auction. There we found an array of fine automobiles that included several XK 140s. One particular O.T.S. was of interest to a couple we met. They were there to purchase the car and they wanted to pick our brains as judges to determine how much they should budget. They had done their homework and compared this offering to others they had seen in New England and Arizona. In addition to two XK 140s, a spectacular 1938 SS Saloon and four E types were offered. As with many things, you get what you pay for, with the finer cars fetching the bigger money. The funny thing about auctions is when several bidders are after a particular car, they spend silly money, like 48K for a VW bug. However, the star of this show was a 1973 Ferrari 250 S.W.B. Berlinetta Lusso with celebrity status. This car was one of five in this color way and previously owned by Steve McQueen. The estimated range was predicted to be between $850,000 and $1 million. When the hammer finally dropped, a phone bidder paid $2.1 million plus commissions and delivery. The interesting point is that up until the bidding reached $2 million, there were six bidders battling to own this car.
See www.christies.com for auction results.

Friday was busy as well. We were invited to Bonhams and Butterfields Auction at Quail Lodge. We previewed the offerings early. A Group 44 owned by Bob Tullis E type was offered. The estimate was $90,000 to $120,000 and it sold for $56,160.00. In my opinion, it was a real steal. There was also a well-presented 1950 MKV with an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000 and a hammer price of $114,660. Other Jaguars were XKs, 120s, OTSs, an early E type coupe, and a 1937 SS100 2 liter estimated between $380,000 and $430,000. In all, eight Jaguars were offered. To see the results, go to www.bonhams.com.

On to the Quail, one of the most beautiful of all the events. This display was limited to 3,000 visitors making it one of my favorites. Back to the wine, women and song; that best describes this event. There was Italian opera, fashion, food, wine, and even an air show. The highlight of this event was the vintage racecar parade that thundered onto the field. From there we went to Concorso Italiao and Kruse. There, unlimited crowds filled Black Horse Golf Course with all things Italian. Beautiful models, female and automotive, graced the course. An awards, by type and class of cars, was preceded by a fashion show. This was possibly the largest gathering of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis held in the States. The featured vehicle this year was Maserati, which celebrated the 3500GT model. It was the largest gathering of that model that I had ever witnessed. It was an excellent opportunity to see the originality and subtle differences over the years. See www.concorso.com The Kruse Auction also offered an eclectic group of cars, pre-war through modern. Two Maseratis, factory racecars, in contrasting colors were featured. For auction results, visit www.kruse.com.

That evening we were invited to Gooding & Companys preview. The auction house featured a one of a kind Ferrari collection that had belonged to the late Greg Garrison, a man who was as well known for this car collection as for his work as a television produce/director. The Rolls Royce collection of Mr. Richard J. Solove was also a major attraction. This collection has a catalog estimate of $8 to $10 million. This is the only known collection of a model from every year of production, 1907 to 1915, of the Rolls Royces first series 40/50hp Silver Ghost. The collection was offered without reserve and the proceeds of the sale went to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University.

Saturday was all about racing, Laguna Seca style. In addition to the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, the treat this year was the Indy cars and drivers.
It was a reunion of drivers and their cars. Toyota, the sponsor for the event, gathered the living legends and had them drive new Toyota in a parade lap around the course. We were in the pits, which gave us the chance to get up-close and personal. There were a lot of rare cars, vintage XKSS, XK120, 140, and E types. The rarest of the rare, such as the Bentley Blowers, a Zagato Maserati, and one off Ferraris were there to win their respective classes. Even the Indy cars were racing. It was a site to behold. During the races, we were able to get on the track and set up on the wall for photographs. Imagine being within touching range as these racecars apexed the wall to hug the inside.
See www.montereyhistoric.com

That evening we were off to Russo & Steels and RM Auctions in downtown Monterey. The convention areas and hotel auction locations backed-up to the famous Fishermans Wharf. We heard the sea lions singing to each other to the backdrop of hundreds of moored sailing and fishing boats illuminated by the moonlight. The Russo & Steel Auction House featured Big Daddy Roth with many of his Ratfinks. At Russo & Steel, we witnessed a noticeable drop in muscles car prices with mopar cars dropping dramatically from last year. It seemed that the valves were there. Most of the cars were American muscle, the nitch for the vendor, with a few British, a Rolls Royce Cornish, and a Jaguar MK II. For results, go to www.russosteel.com. Across the street from Russos inventory was the staging area for RM Auctions. That house had everything from Duesenbergs, which earned over $4 million, to barn finds such as a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Scaglietti Spyder, that had an estimated price of $850,000 to $1 million and sold for $1,540,000. There were also several Jaguars, XKs, 120s, 140s, 150s, and a large selection of E types, twelve Jaguars were offered. Mr. Allen de Cadenet, host of Victory by Design on the Speed Channel, was in the staging area broadcasting for his network. Results of this auction can be seen at www.rmauctions.com.

We were off to Pebble on Sunday morning. We were fortunate enough to be given a Dosen hosted tour from 8:00 to noon. Each and every featured car was thoroughly explained. We met with curators, restorers, and owners while they told us about their vehicles. One owner, being interviewed by a major network, was asked what it was like to be invited to Pebble Beach. His response was that when you are invited to Pebble Beach, it is no longer a car, it is a possession like art or fine jewelry. As I listened to more descriptions of those possessions I began to understand his comment. Pebble Beach is the Holy Grail to car enthusiasts. Upon entering this Shangri-La you pass the prototypes. The presentation was on the practice putting green in front of boutique row and across from the Wall of Legions where Sam Sneed, Byron Nelson, and a list of the best in the world have played. Behind the famed clubhouse, was the lodge where the 18th green was host to the Concour de Elegance platform. The officials and judges were comprised of international experts in all things automotive. Many of these renowned judges actually knew these cars by their serial numbers. These vehicles survive from caretaker to caretaker, collector to collector, museum to museum. Lives and fortunes are invested in this endeavor. One collector explained to me that he tried for fifteen years to purchase a specific car. He had to wait until the owner passed away and then negotiated with another collector that had gotten the car from the estate. For him, he had realized his dream.

After our Doden tour, we spoke to a curator for the School of Arts. We were told a story about how many collectors pledge their cars to the school so the passion can live on. The curator explained that the students studied the chrome on a Duesenberg to fully understand how to illustrate this feature. The Society of Fine Arts has a huge display of original art and sculpture that honors the automobiles. To see owners and guests dressed in period ensembles to match their vintage vehicles is something to behold. The Jaguars presented were primarily factory works cars. As expected, there was an assortment of vehicles from original un-restored to totally restored. This year, Aston Martin was the feature marquee of the year. There were many unusual, vintage Astons as well as a full-sized wooden model example were shown. The model DB7 and a finished DB7 shared space in a collection beside each other.

Most the of the worlds automotive manufacturers and part supplies had hospitality tents. Jaguar was one of the few not represented. Again this year, Edward Hermann served as host and renowned car enthusiast, Jay Leno, was the color commentator. After watching the green ribbons win their class, we were shuttled to the other venues, Retromobile, The Blackhawk Collection, and our final destination, the Gooding & Company Auction. At Retromobile, we proceeded through predominately vintage memorabilia. These unusual finds had pricing commensurate with their rarity. I found a great antique that they wanted $1,500 just to pack and ship. We then visited the Blackhawk collection, of vintage, and collectible cars that have been consigned to that vendor. Six Jaguars were available at top estimated pricing. There I found a one off Bentley with Pininfarina coachwork. A stunning example that was offered with appropriate pricing given its history. To view this fine collection, visit www.blackhawkcollectionl.com.

Last, but certainly not least, was the second night of Gooding & Company Auctions. There were so many offerings; they had to extend their auction to a second night. The tent was a buzz waiting for the Richard Solove collection to grace the block. The previous evening the Garrison collection, of mostly Ferraris, set world records. In speaking with a staffer, I congratulated him for their record setting status. He believed that nights cars would blow the socks off the previous nights results. They were offering the Richard Solove collection of antique and vintage Rolls Royces. The philanthropic donor, Mr. Richard Solove, and the benefactor, Dr. David E. Schuller M.D., addressed the audience. This was a fine example of the caliber of the automobile enthusiast. Millions of dollars were pledged for cancer research. The six Jaguars offered at this venue were at top estimates and beyond. See www.goodingco.com for results. Again, proof that the correct cars, restored or original, are excellent investments. I have watched Ferraris increase ten fold in ten years. Vintage Aston Martin and Maseratis are also on the way up. Jaguar SS and XK have increased three to four fold in as many years. There are not many investments that can also be such an enjoyable hobby. It is the people I meet a long the way that I enjoy the most. I am still at the airport on my way home, tired, hungry, and sunburnt, but I am already anticipating Monterey 2008