If you can’t stand conspicuous displays of extreme wealth, look away now. The automotive gathering known as Pebble Beach, held on the Monterey peninsula in California, met for the 62nd time last weekend. It has grown into a wide range of automotive events over four days, most at the premium end of the scale and a mix of high society, very serious monied enthusiasts and a scattering of the discerning public.
The Friday Quail gathering in Carmel is a mini Concours d’Elegance held on a small section of the golf course and was, for a few hours, probably the most concentrated area of wealth – both personal and automotive – on the planet. It is so exclusive that tickets have a face value of $450, if you can get one. Ebay touts were trying to sell them on for $2000.
Aside from the extraordinary collection of classics, most of the world’s premium and super-premium car makers had stands at the event. This is where the wealthiest car-savvy customers congregate, sip champagne and appetites are whetted and even sales made. McLaren, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover all had impressive stands, with Jaguar showing a 1964 E-Type, Land Rover a late-model Range Rover Mk1 and McLaren the one-off customer-specified McLaren X-1. Bugatti showed a Veyron Vitesse customer one-off. The striking Lamborghini Urus SUV concept also made its first appearance since its April debut at the Beijing motor show.
Quail’s exhibition of classics was heavy on the Iso Rivolta brand (which is 50 years old), which blended the most sophisticated Italian styling and no-nonsense Chevy and GM V8 engines. A Lamborghini Miura and Bizzarrini 5300 GT (Giotto Bizzarrini was the engineer behind the Ferrari 250 GTO and a co-founder of Iso) were among the Quail 2012 show winners.
The following day saw the famous Laguna Seca historic races in the traditional baking heat at this inland circuit. Much of the racing was dominated by the thorax-rattling noise of US muscle cars, but the highlight of the day was the exceptional gathering of AC Cobra competition cars in celebration of motorsport legend Carroll Shelby, who died earlier this year. Fifty original Shelby Cobras turned up and 169 in total, including around 75 replicas. A parade of Cobras ran around the circuit in tribute.