BMWBLOG attended the 2012 Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach and over the course of five days, we had the opportunity to visit several motoring events. Here is a recap of the 2012 glamorous event, including the iconic Concorso Italiano.

Monterey 2012 Day 1

Thursday, August 16th, marked the start of the 2012’s Monterey Car Weekend, arguably the greatest grouping of car events in the world. Tuesday had the “Concours on the Avenue,” a free car show in downtown Carmel, one of the hubs of the region. Wednesday had the Jet Center party that typically showcases some supercars, classics, helicopters, and planes.

My weekend started on Thursday with the “Tour D’Elegance.” This is an optional parade for all Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegnace entrants meant to showcase the cars in their element. The tour can also act as a tiebreaker. In the event of a tie between two cars in Sunday’s Concours, cars that participate in the tour get a quarter point advantage. The tour leads the cars along the scenic twisty roads of Carmel down to Big Sur and back. On their return journey the cars stop for a quick show on Ocean Avenue, the main drag in Downtown Carmel. Each year seems busier than the last.

This year, the cars were positioned pretty close together making it difficult for photographers to capture them and spectators to view and move around them. However, it is still quite a site to see dozens of multi-million dollar cars displayed on the avenue for all to enjoy. After the stopover, the cars then depart for Pebble Beach, where they started, to get washed off and stored back in their transporters until Sunday Morning. This leg back to Pebble is where I caught them.

Here are shots of almost every car on the tour cruising through the neighborhood between downtown Carmel and the entrance to Pebble Beach.

Monterey 2012 Day 2 – Part 1

This year’s event had three big shows running on Friday of the Monterey Car Weekend: Legends of the Autobahn, The Quail, and Concorso Italiano.

Legends of the Autobahn is a show for German cars held in Carmel Valley. Now in its fourth year, the show has transitioned from all BMWs to including the other prominent German makes: Mercedes, Porsche, and Audi.

The Quail, held at Quail Meadows Golf Course, is more of a high class social gathering around just a few dozen top-quality cars. The show has only a handful of classes, each with only a small number of cars, surrounded by stages showcasing the latest cars from companies like Lamborghini and some vendor booths.

Concorso Italiano

Concorso Italiano, the show I attended is probably the biggest of the three, it’s a car show that celebrates Italian cars and culture. From classic Fiat 500s to Lamborghini Reventons, Concorso has  hundreds of Italian cars, bikes, and motorcycles on display every year. This year Concorso featured Fiat and Bertone but I turned my attention to supercars.

Upon arriving I went straight for the Lamborghinis. At 9:30am the sun was already blazing in full force so the candy colored metallic paint of the Lambos was almost blinding. The pearl paint colors are finished in multiple layers so the intense sunlight helped to display the colors’ full depth.

About midway down the row of Lamborghinis I spotted an Arancio Argos Aventador and hurried straight over. The closer I got the more Aventadors I saw. In total there were at least five! This car truly is a thing of beauty with all of its complex creases and curves. It looks good in almost any color combination. Even plain black looks good on this car. Maybe the contradiction between its outrageous performance and styling and the subtle, nonchalant black paint is what intrigues me about it. Regardless, the Aventador is destined to be a classic.

Mixed in with the Aventadors were a few Murcielago LP670-4 SVs! In comparison to the Aventador the car is starting to look slightly soft and dated. However, compared to anything else, this car looks like an absolute weapon. The low and wide stance and the carbon bits make it look ready to eat up anything that stands in its way.

Continuing down the hill I saw the Pagani tent with the new Red and Carbon Huayra parked out front. This car was surrounded by a crowd of people for the entire day; no other car got as much attention. The doors were open and the engine cover raised to show off the jewelry-like finish quality of the interior and engine bay. Each individual part of the car is a work of art on its own.

After drooling over the Huayra for a bit I kept walking towards the corral at the far end of the show where all non-italian cars were displayed. The cars that caught my eye were the Rauh-Welt Porsche, the Carrera GT, the white and black GT3 RS, the CLK63 AMG black series, and the Ford GT. This was the first time I had seen a Rauh-Welt Porsche in person and they are every bit as wild as the look in the pictures. The stance, the extreme body kit, and the off-the-wall colors make for a unique package that just isn’t offered by anyone else. The other Porsches of note, the yellow Carrera GT and the white and black GT3 RS 997.1 looked great too. These two cars are aging gracefully. The Mercedes-Benzs of note were the CLK63 black series (one silver and one black) and the SLR McLaren Roadster in metallic black. The CLK63 still looks great and provides thrills on the road. Now with the Legends of the Autobahn show occurring on the same day Concorso doesn’t have quite as strong a showing of non-Italian cars. However, this year still saw some impressive German and other rides on display.

Next stop, Ferrari. Heading back up the hill I made my way through a sea of Fiat Dinos and 308s to the more potent prancing horses. They were seemingly arranged by year and level of performance with modern-era (80s to now) models displayed separately from the classics. Starting from the bottom of the hill the progression went from 308s to 360s and 430s to 360 CSs and 430 Scuds to front engined V12s to the kings of the hill, the 288GTO, F40, and F50.

I love the white 348 coupe with white wheels, it so perfectly represents its time. The car looks like it was delivered to the show in a time machine from an 80s cocaine dealer in Miami. Then there were the 360 Challenge Stradales, a favorite among car guys and purists. This stripped out street racer is almost ten years old now but excites me just as much as when I saw one driving around near Portofino, Italy 8 years ago for the first time.

Next comes the 430 Scuderia. There weren’t any uniquely optioned versions on display, most were fairly plain reds or greys, but the extra little flair of the Scuderia’s body kit gives it a sharp and focused look that eludes to its track focused nature. The newest offerings from Ferrari, the 458 coupe and spider were on display as well. Some of the 458s featured a carbon fiber cap on the rear to give it the look of a challenge car. This is a must have upgrade. Finally, at the top of the hill sat one of the purest, most raw driving machines ever created, the Ferrari F40. Even at 20+ years old the car drew crowds almost all day.

For the rest of the show I just wandered back through all of the different car groupings and displays. On my second pass through the show I paid more attention to the details. The alcantara Lamborghini sport seats, the Bugatti Veyron engine covers, the LP640s bat wings and Carbon engine cage all display the careful thought, planning, and passion that went into developing these italian automobiles.

Concorso Italiano had another great year and I look forward to seeing what they have planned for 2013!

Monterey 2012 Day 2 – Part 2

The Quail

This year, after Concorso Italiano, I drove over to “The Quail” to see the yearly collection of exotic cars. On the way over the hill to Carmel Valley, where the event was hosted, I saw the metallic orange and carbon fiber Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse!

The road leading in to the Quail Meadows Resort was lined with nice cars. Towards the entrance of the actual show there was a Jaguar test drive event. Further down the road there were exotics of the “special” guests parked on both sides. Finally, when I pull in to park, I see dozens and dozens of exotics, some ordinary ones like the Aventador and McLaren MP4-12C, and some limited edition cars like the Ferrari 599 SA Aperta and 599 GTO. After parking the car, I systematically made my way up and down every row of the incredible Quail parking lot. The parking lot was a show within itself, it had better cars than many car shows I have been to!

By far the most common special cars were the Ferrari FF, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, and the new BMW 6 series GranCoupe. I saw the SLS in matte bronze, matte grey, silver, dark grey, and black in coupe and roadster forms. The car has a great exhaust note and sort of growls as it drives by. The new 6 series Gran Coupe with the M sport package is really starting to grow on me. After seeing the car in person in the changing light conditions and getting to examine it from a number of angles I think it looks a lot better than in the press pictures. Modern BMWs are designed in a way that it takes months or years of being exposed to the car to take in the depth of its styling.

My favorite car of the parking lot was the Silver 599 GTO with black wheels, black stripe, and a red and black interior. The exterior colors are subtle and show off the car’s lines well and the interior has sporty italian flair with the bright red leather. The wolf in sheep’s clothing paint job fits the nature of the car. While the 599 GTO looks fairly similar to the 599 GTB, practically the whole entire car was reengineered using technology from the 599XX to make it a much more potent road weapon.

While there are many more cool cars to check out in the gallery, the last model I will cover is the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. In pictures, the Bugatti Veyron (in all forms) is easy to get used to and eventually shrug off as big, heavy, and uninteresting. However, in person, the car is incredible. The Bugatti Veyron is not merely another people mover rolling down the road, it is a masterful blend of art and engineering that carries an aura of history and grandeur. Other cars can grab my attention but this automobile transfixes me from the moment it enters my sight to the moment it leaves. These 2 uniquely colored 1200hp convertibles do a great job of continuing this company’s legacy. Instead of boring off-the-shelf color combos, these Bugattis have special configurations that push the boundaries of materials and colors used on automobiles. The first car is metallic orange and Carbon fiber. The boldness of metallic orange fits the outrageous performance of this car that has 1200hp and can hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. Additionally, carbon fiber body panels represent the car’s technological innovation and give it a modern, cutting-edge image.The second car is neon yellow and olive green. This color combo represents pushing the style and design boundaries. Bugattis are the epitome of style and elegance so dressing the car with a new and controversial color palette is fitting and makes a statement.

As the show ended I was able to get in and take a few pictures of the displays and some noteworthy cars in the show. Take a look below. What do you think about the new Bugattis?

Monterey 2012 Day 3

Saturday of the Monterey Car Weekend is typically a day to rest, check out the shops and cars in downtown Carmel, or watch the historic races at Laguna Seca. I ended up driving over to Pebble Beach to test drive a car and explore the area.

First I looked around the polo fields, where all the show cars are stored and worked on. One truck held the red and black Pagani Huayra along with a matte white Koenigsegg Agera R, that was delivered that weekend to a certain someone with a matte white car collection.

Next to the fields was the Gooding Auction tent. Right out front I saw the silver Ferrari California Spyder and white McLaren F1 that were driving around all weekend in tandem.

From there I made my way down the hill to the lodge stopping at the Jaguar and Cadillac tents on the way. Alongside their newest offerings, the Jaguar display had a lineup of the C, D, and E-types. Almost half a century old, these classics are still as stunning as ever. The soft yellow color fit the D-type quite nicely and represented the style of the era. The Cadillac tent had the popular Ciel concept on display. The car is stunning in person because of its wild proportions. Giant convertibles like this just don’t exist like they used to. I hope to see something like it on the road soon.

Down at the concept lawn the crews were still setting up so not all of the cars were on the lawn yet. However, of the cars there, the McLaren MP4-12s Spyder, the Infiniti Emerg-E concept, and the new Viper, the infinite was the most interesting. With its glossy metallic grey paint and its scalloped features, it looked as if the car was carved out of a block of metal. The purple window tint, the wavy grill, and the rearview cameras in place of mirrors all made this quite a unique vehicle.

Further down the road was the new Pagani Huayra. Parked among a row of ordinary rental cars, this sculpture on wheels stood out like a fighter jet in a sea of Toyota Camrys. Every detail of this car is a work of art in itself. The carbon fiber accents, the active aerodynamics, the jewelry-like interior bits, and the awe inspiring engine bay all add up to make this one of the most incredible fusions of design, engineering, and passion to date.

Next, I headed over to the BMW tent to test drive the new 6 series Gran Coupe. This car is a great technological achievement. Each of the four seats are comfortable with sufficient space, the car has a ride refined to an exacting degree, and the steering takes the car exactly where you expect it to go. However, at low speeds, anything under 80 mph, there is hardly any feel to the car at all.

This is a 4000+ lb vehicle but feels like you are driving a simulator at your desk with a simulator wheel. The car’s weight is completely hidden in most driving conditions so it lacks the communication of earlier cars. At the end of the test drive I went on to take a spin in the new M6 coupe. While I didn’t get to really push either car to its limits, because of small roads and tourist traffic, I came away feeling less than impressed by these two new rides. The M6 has a throatier exhaust note, heavier steering, and more brutal acceleration than the 640i Gran Coupe but it didn’t feel like a different car altogether, it just felt like the same car with more aggressive settings entered into the computer. At the end of the day when I got back into my E39 BMW 540i with a 6-speed manual, I told my friend that I preferred my older BMW to the new M flagship. The 540 feels like it is actually riding on the road as opposed to floating above it on a cloud of computer programs. When you hit a bump in the road in the 540 you feel it and what it does to the car. When you hit a bump in the new BMWs, the bump goes to the computer and then gets sent up to the the driver as a preprogrammed response rather than direct communication. Until this day I doubted all the journalists and fanboys that cry about the death of the automobile and sing the E30’s praises. Now that I have experienced the latest generation of cars for myself, I have to agree, each generation loses the soul and excitement of the last.

At the end of the day I took some friends to one of the underground parking garages int he area to see some cars that were in town for the show. As you can see from the last several pictures, we struck the jackpot and found quite a few good ones.

Enjoy the pictures below.

Monterey 2012 – Day 4

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Held on Sunday of the Monterey Car Weekend is the crown jewel, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Every edition has a selection of around 200 of the fastest, most beautiful, most elegant, and most historically significant automobiles in history. Last year’s display of 22 Ferrari 250 GTOs is almost impossible to top but this year was still worth the visit.

There were four main areas to explore: the polo fields, the new car hill, the concept and the show lawns.

The polo fields and entrance area had some great cars to see. The fields are where all of the trucks that transport these cars park and where cars get worked on or stored away. Up there I saw many of the newer cars that were out in California as demo cars for the manufacturer, like the several Ferrari FFs. I also saw a nice Alfa Romeo 8C, the new Ferrari F12, a McLaren F1, an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, and more. It is fun walking down the rows of trucks, peeking inside, and hoping to find some special car unexpectedly. One of the trucks I came across had one collector’s 599 GTO, Black F50, Enzo, and a few others! The Polo Fields always have a surprise or two and the guys driving the trucks have some great stories to tell.

The new car hill has a bunch of displays set up by new car manufacturers showcasing their latest offerings, a concept or two, and sometimes cars from their past. Porsche had one of Jerry Seinfeld’s 550 Spyders on display and Jaguar had a nice lineup of the C, D, and E types. This hill has tons of opportunities for the show attendees to experience and learn about new cars they might not have considered otherwise. Displaying concepts or old cars also helps attract customers that like the concept or old cars and get them to take a look at the company’s current lineup. Over the few days prior to the show, this is where ride and drives for a few companies take place. Overall, this area provides a much more pleasant environment to learn about new cars than going to a dealership and getting ignored or pushed to buy a car.

Down at the concept lawn, the last landing point before entering the show are some of the most unique concepts, one-offs, and special editions of the moment. Seeing the concept cars on display in person provides a chance to fully take in all of their intricate details and design cues that tend to get lost in the press pictures. Cameras replacing mirrors, carbon fiber wheels, coach built roadsters, and 1200hp supercars are all on display on the concept lawn. While this year had many attention grabbers, two clear stars of the show were the Lamborghini Urus SUV concept, and Sesto Elemento carbon fiber track car concept. These two beasts have more passion, style, and presence in one bolt than other whole cars! The concept lawn did not disappoint this year.

Finally, you make your way down the path, through a sea of ticket checkers, between two buildings, and out onto the main show lawn of Pebble Beach. This year I didn’t really know what to expect but still found some gems. First, the 50s and 60s european sports and race cars on display were probably my favorites. The Ferrari 250 GT Tour De France, the Ferrari 500 TRC, the Aston Martin DB5, and others are filled to the brim with beauty and emotion. Their exquisite curves just melt onlookers and their candy-like paint colors shout for attention. Next,there were many great pre-war cars on display, my favorites being a Rolls Royce with a gun rack and seriously German, all black Mercedes-Benz 540k. One could come over the car for hours and still not see or fully take in every exacting detail. It took me a while to appreciate these cars but now I can see them for the rolling works of art that they are.

Around 1:30 P.M. the awards ceremony, a four hour procession, begins. While it is a very lengthy process, it is great fun to sit back and watch all of the selected “kings of class” roll over the stage, see them in motion, and hear their stories. I always learn something new and get exposed to cars I had never paid attention to when I watch the Pebble awards ceremony. Finally, at around 5pm, they announce the best in show winner. This year’s winner was a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo. The car had sleek, clean surfaces, elegant trim, and masterfully sculpted fenders.

Another great year of Pebble Beach is now in the books and I can’t wait to go back again next year!

Here is another photo gallery shot by Shawn Molnar: