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What not to miss at Monterey Car Week and Pebble Beach 2016

The automotive activities on the Monterey Peninsula – once colloquially referred to as ‘The Weekend’, and in more recent times ‘The Week’ – have become a cornerstone of the classic car calendar. Here’s what not to miss at the 2016 Monterey Car Week…

Even ‘The Week’ is no longer representative, as a ‘Pre-union’ already took place last weekend at the Laguna Seca Raceway. A number of other enthusiast-minded events will take place over the coming days, with all tastes of motoring (and, in the case of the McCall Motorworks Revival, aviation) catered for. But the real elegance, in name at least, begins on the Thursday, as the Tour d’Elegance rolls out and revellers are given their first glimpse of the cars whose tyres will grace the immaculate links lawns on Sunday.

Traditionally, cars participating in the Tour d’Elegance on Thursday gain an advantage they might come to use on the Sunday, should they end up tied on points with another entrant. That advantage has been removed this year, however, as a forest fire that has raged through the Ventena Wilderness to the south-east for the past three weeks has led to the route being shortened by approximately 50%, and restricted to non-highway roads where possible. The resulting low speeds of the police-escorted cavalcade could pose a threat to the health of the competition-minded cars, so withdrawal will not carry a penalty. However, the organisers still promise a scenic cruise along 17-Mile Drive and a stop-off for lunch (and onlooker admiration) at Carmel’s Ocean Avenue for the remainder.

From the tour to the auction halls

Mecum, Russo & Steele and Rick Cole get the glut of auction proceedings underway on the Thursday, with the ‘Big Three’ taking their respective turns across the weekend. Collectors of blue-chip automobiles are perhaps more spoilt for choice this year than ever before, with RM Sotheby’s outmaneuvering its competition to consign the Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-type and Alfa Romeo 8C Lungo Spyder, and Gooding securing a Prancing Horse one-two with the consignment of Competizione variants of both the California Spider and 250 GT SWB. What will be most telling, however, is whether there are enough willing buyers at this level given the current market climate and its ever-mounting variables…

Now in its 14th year, The Quail remains the sophisticated automotive garden party that everyone wants to attend – but only a select few can experience. Lucky attendees (and we mean that quite literally; tickets are lotto-drawn) will be treated to the sight of around 200 rare automobiles and motorcycles, with this year’s feature classes including a Laguna Seca Raceway Restrospective and, perhaps most intriguingly of all, one dedicated to the ‘Rivalries of the Ages’. And we could see a brand-new rivalry born in front of our very eyes, as the chopped-roof Lancia Aurelia B20 ‘Fuorilegge’ – Italian for ‘Outlaw’ – presents a curious alternative to established resto-modders such as Singer, Emory and Eagle. Elsewhere, the ‘Best of Show’ winners of six of 2015’s most prominent global concours – The Quail, Amelia Island, Pebble Beach, the Goodwood Cartier Style et Luxe, the Royal Concours of Elegance and the Cavallino Classic – will be brought together to contest the inaugural Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award. Only the absence of the Villa d’Este winner prevents it from effectively deciding the 2015 World Champion of the concours lawn.

The featured marque of this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion is centenary-celebrating BMW. This will be no static showcase, however, but a dynamic museum named the ‘BMW Living Legends Garage’. No fewer than 64 BMWs will be put to work on the track – from the pre-War 328 to the all-conquering BMW V12 LMR of 1999 – including seven from the manufacturer’s American classic division. Consequently, this tribute will also represent the largest gathering of BMW M1 ProCars ever assembled in the USA, and the first time all five factory IMSA-specification 3.0 CSLs will be back together for the first time since they raced in the mid-1970s. BMW certainly seem to have got their bird’s-worth from the centennial stone.

Combat on the Corkscrew

Another notable milestone to be honoured with a twisting of the Corkscrew is the 50th anniversary of Can-Am. A field of Lolas, Shadows, McLarens and Porsches, split between two separate grids comprising pre- and post-1968 cars, will be combined for feature races taking place Thursday through Saturday, before a number of them are whisked off to the 18th Fairway to do battle on the concours lawn in their own dedicated class on Sunday. Just make sure you resist the temptation to carry on into the Saturday night…

…because you’ll want to be up long before the sun on Sunday morning. Dawn Patrol is regarded by die-hard regulars as the foremost on the ‘must-attend’ list for the (extended) week. Early risers will be rewarded by the sight of each concours entrant gently ‘putt-putting’ its way onto the concours lawn, shedding the night’s dew with assistance from a spine-tingling shoreside sunrise. Highlight concours groupings this year include both two- and four-wheeled classes celebrating the topical Bavarian birthday – including the first public showing of the restored Elvis 507 at which we recently took a closer look – as well as the golden jubilees of both the Lamborghini Miura and the Ford GT40 Le Mans podium lockout, the latter effectively representing the model’s second victory homecoming. Elsewhere, the genius of Giotto will be honoured by a gaggle of Bizzarrinis, including not only the rare roofless variants but also the home-brewed project that saw Enzo Ferrari give the young graduate engineer a job on first sight, affectionately named the ‘Machinetta’.

Idyllic backdrop

In the concept car category, BMW will self-congratulate itself once again this year by presenting its 2002 Turbo Hommage in a new livery (clue: you’ll only feel its full effects the next morning…), while another nostalgia-heavy example of futurism will present itself in the form of the Mercedes-Maybach coupé – all six metres of it. Early teaser images suggest more inspiration has been taken from the marque’s past-masters (think pre-War and Exelero) rather that its would-be stablemates. One thing’s for sure: in terms of design statements, it certainly won’t be the weakest at the Links. Also rumoured to be in attendance is the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo, recently purchased directly from Bugatti by a Saudi prince who picked up the Chiron showcar from Geneva in the same eye-watering sweep. Lamborghini is also said to be readying its outfit for the party – Huracán Superleggera, perhaps, or another piece of egotistical (by its own admission) exotica for the elite?

Packed Peninsula

Elsewhere, a heavy McLaren presence will involve, among numerous historical and contemporary displays, the latest Special Operations project. Manufacturers’ appetites for alternatives to the traditional motor show format are becoming more apparent than ever, as has also been seen at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Villa d’Este this year. The question is, is there much room left on the already packed Peninsula – or will we be referring to ‘The Fortnight’ in the coming years?

Photos: Rolex