Monterey Car Week: impossible to get bored

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The Monterey Car Week is one of the richest and most amusing festivals in the world where the past, the present and the future of cars meet up together, creating a unique mix. One of the Concours d'Elegance is held here – at Pebble Beach – and is absolutely one of the most famous. They hold auctions here with incredible prices on offer. There is The Quail, a place where the manufacturers present magnificent new models and concept cars: this year you could see the Lamborghini Urus Performante, McLaren Solus GT, Maserati MC20 Cielo, Bugatti Mistral, Polestar 6 Cabrio, Aston Martin DBR22, De Lorean Alpha 5, etc. There is the unmissable Concorso Italiano where Italians can feel proud to be a citizen of a country which has contributed so much to car-making history (and continues to do so, thanks to the manufacturers which produce sports models). In this exhibition there were around a thousand cars, all Italian, being shown at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside: the “Best in Show” and the “Valentino Balboni Award” ended up respectively with the splendid Bizzarrini 5300 Strada from 1967 belonging to Billy Hibbs and the Lamborghini Diablo Roadster owned by Robert Fulton. There is no doubt about it: at the Monterey Car Week it is impossible to get bored.

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An American car Best in Show

It was an American car – but boasting typically European luxury and elegance – that won the 71st edition of the Elegance Competition at Pebble Beach: the Duesenberg J Figoni Sport Torpedo of 1932 owned by Lee Anderson carried off to its fatherland the most coveted trophy. This was no surprise to the 200 collectors, divided into 28 classes, given the importance of the model and its enormous visual impact. The last success for a stars and stripes car was confirmed in 2013 with the Packard Twelve from 1934. The J Figoni Sports Torpedo enchanted the public and the jury with its mighty eight-cylinder in-line 265 HP engine - which in 1932 was more or less equivalent to the 1,500 HP of a modern supercar – combined with that extremely elegant Sports Torpedo bodywork, designed by the Italian-origin Frenchman Joseph Figoni. At the time, not only was it the most powerful car in America, but it also featured futuristic technological innovations, such as the hydraulic brakes which could be adjusted depending on whether the road surface was wet or dry.

Lancia and Autobianchi on the podium

The list of participants in the Elegance Competition is extraordinary: from the Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni and Falaschi Teardrop Coupé from 1937 owned by Fritz Burkard, to the Duesenberg J Graber Cabriolet from 1930 belonging to Sam and Emily Mann; from the Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Stabilimenti Farina Cabriolet from 1951 shown by Merle and Peter Mullin to the Lancia DiLambda Carlton Carriage Co. Drophead Coupé belonging to Filippo Sole from Milan, who was awarded third place in the European Classic Early Open beating two magnificent entries - the Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer from 1931 owned by Joanie & Scott Kriens, and the Bugatti Type 38A Figoni Tourer from 1927 belonging to Gerald & Theresa Alexander. The DiLambda, which arrived in California after a coast to coast journey of over 3,000 miles starting in New York, remains one of the most refined models created by Vincenzo Lancia, having changed ownership on two occasions, before disappearing in 1940. It was returned to its original splendour in 2020, thanks to the lengthy restoration project desired and coordinated by the current owner. The Italian flag has been kept flying thanks also to the Autobianchi 112 Bertone Concept Car from 1969: it is part of the ASI Bertone Collection, acquired by the Federation in 2015: it won the Gran Turismo Trophy, handed directly to the President of the ASI, Alberto Scuro.

Exceptional auctions

During the days of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, which for this edition raised over 2.67 million dollars for charity, they held the auctions which make the festival even more famous and these were organised by RM Sotheby's, Bonhams and Gooding & Company. The latter – which is the official auctioneer for the event – achieved over 105 million dollars of sales. The top purchase was the extremely elegant Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante from 1937, which exchanged hands for 10 million and 345 thousand dollars, whilst models which set new world records were a Ferrari F40 from 1990, sold for 3,965,000 dollars and a Bugatti EB110 Super Sport from 1994, which achieved 3,167,500 dollars.