Those of you who prefer wine and cheese over beer and burgers would probably find yourself at the Monterey Car Week 2022 & Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance rather than the Woodward Dream Cruise – both are held on the third weekend of August. While your author is firmly in the latter’s camp, he appreciates the bonkers amount of money being tossed around at the former.
As they often do, RM Sotheby’s will be using the occasion to hold a high-dollar auction. Lots include the likes of a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider by Scaglietti allegedly raced by Fangio himself.
“The times they are a-changin’” sang Bob Dylan in the early 1960s. The legacy of the song can be seen as to how, no matter the year, it always finds a way to relate to contemporary life.
Take electric vehicles, for example. In just a decade, electric vehicles went from almost non-existent to Tesla selling hundreds of thousands each year. Furthermore, numerous global automakers have released their own EVs and/or pledged to have their entire model lineup be exclusively electrified by the end of the current decade.
It often feels like the automotive industry has hit a creative wall where every concept vehicle has to be another electric vehicle offering next-generation connectivity and some self-driving claims that will later be tamped down. We’ve gotten used to being disappointed but there has been one brand that’s been furnishing concept vehicles that are at least interesting.
In 2018, Audi debuted the PB18 E-Tron Concept (AI:RACE) in an attempt to highlight what’s possible with a pure EV using the skateboard platform. Without a driveshaft hogging interior space, the automaker felt it could build a supercar with an interchangeable driving position that allowed the pilot to transition from a central F1-style cockpit to something that’s more suited to the daily commute. The company has since decided to build on that idea with the Skysphere Concept, which alters the roadster’s exterior based on whether it’s you or the car that’s doing the driving.
Lamborghini’s Countach is arguably one of the most important vehicles ever to be manufactured in that it solidified the brand’s reputation and helped create an entire subgenre of automotive pornography. The model is often touted as being one of the only posters featured on more teenage walls than Bo Derek and was among the first performance automobiles to appear in videogames with any regularity. Introduced in 1974, it’s the one Lamborghini almost everyone recognizes and probably the vehicle that best represents the brand. It’s wildly impractical, beyond garish, and totally obsessed with giving an experience so unique that you cannot help but place the car on a pedestal.
Oh, and Lamborghini said the Countach is coming back in limited quantities for its 50th birthday. Though it’s to be reimagined as a modern automobile.
If you were hoping to browse the mouth-watering classics at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, don’t break out the collared shirts just yet. The event has been cancelled for the same reason everything else you wanted to do is now impossible. Pebble Beach officials have decided to nix the show, originally scheduled for August 16th, rather than risk the health of entrants, judges, and volunteers.
“My heart goes out to all of the people who are involved in the Pebble Beach Concours and who are impacted by this decision,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button for the announcement. “Many of our entrants have been working on a special car for years, and this was to be their moment. Some of our overseas entrants were nearing the point of putting their cars on boats and planes, and their own travel arrangements have long been made. The same is true for many of our international cadre of judges.”
Despite the growing importance of crossover vehicles, Acura is one of the few automakers that has not abandoned its commitment to sedans. It intends to prove that by bringing a production-ready vehicle, based heavily on the 2016 Precision Concept (seen above), to Pebble Beach this summer.
The car will also signal Acura’s entry into a new era of styling, underpinned by muscular shapes offset with inorganic angles — sort of like a sexy robot. If you want sense of what that looks like, and are made uncomfortable by the notion of having to Google the words “sexy robot,” contrast the 2018 RDX with the 2019 model to get a taste of Acura’s updated design language.
Last summer, Infiniti revealed an open-wheeled racer that merged the sex appeal of yesteryear with the electric powertrain of tomorrow. It was called the the Prototype 9 and it was stunningly beautiful. This summer, the brand attempted to repeat that success with the Prototype 10.
While the vintage maxim of “lightning never strikes the same place twice” isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s applicable here. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Prototype 10 is a rehash. It’s another reimagining of mid-century racing, bestowed with an electric motor and some modern flair.
It’s an incredibly handsome automobile, but unnecessary, as it’s representative of absolutely nothing. Infiniti isn’t planning on building single-seat race cars and doesn’t appear prepared to jump into the mass assembly of high-performance EVs. This has been a problem with Infiniti for a while now. The company embraces forward-looking and completely fantastical concept vehicles at the expense of something that might enter into production within a few years. Ultimately, it feels like a wasted effort.
In 1964, Carroll Shelby asked his staff to lengthen the chassis of one of the six Daytona Coupes so he could outfit a 427 cubic inch Ford engine based upon its NASCAR big block. The vehicle was intended to race at Le Mans for 1964 but the truck transporting the motor was involved in a wreck and the Daytona Cobra Coupe returned with a 289, never to make use of the big block Ford.
Now, Shelby American is reimagining history bringing it back for an extremely limited run of heritage cars. “We’re taking care of some ‘unfinished business’ for Carroll Shelby,” explained Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “It was sometimes called the ‘car that never was’ because a lone big block Daytona prototype was built but never raced. We plan to complete this amazing program by offering six turn-key 427 powered Daytona Coupe race cars, which is the same number as the small block versions built in the 1960s.”
This is not the next BMW Z4.
But it’s very likely an accurate portrayal of what the production version of BMW’s third-generation Z4 (and successor to the Z3) will look like when it goes on sale next year.
Love it or hate it, the BMW Roadster Concept that BMW will officially unveil in Pebble Beach later today is an eye-catching followup to the departing Z4 that appeared eight years ago. Now we wait to see whether the next Z4, which shares its underpinnings with the reborn Toyota Supra, will attract any buyers.
U.S. sales of the Z4 plunged by more than 90 percent between 2003 and 2015.
Infiniti designed a heritage-inspired Grand Prix racer to show off at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year. However, it’s not technically a part of Infiniti’s heritage, as the concept vehicle’s 1940s-era styling predates the automaker’s existence by over four decades and Nissan’s own serious entry into motorsport by nearly the same margin. It also uses technologies unlikely to be found in a mid-century race car, like an electric motor — instead of an internal combustion one.
Although, the updated internals don’t amount to some impossibly fast track monster. The open-wheeled racer, dubbed Prototype 9, makes an alleged 148 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. While not terrible for something in a sub-2,000 pound weight class, it would still lose plenty of ground to any pre-war Silver Arrow on a straight. It also tops out at 105.6 mph and is capable of around 20 minutes of track-use before needing to be recharged.
Prototype 9 is definitely an example of glorious form over utilitarian function. It represents Infiniti getting into the spirit of Pebble Beach more than anything else. But celebrating craftsmanship for its own sake is something we should all get behind.