Live From Pebble Beach Car Week: Day One
The realtime madness from the very well-appointed front lines in Monterey.
4:45pm: At Play in a Field of Jaguar E-Types
“Once in a while there’s a design that comes along, no matter what the product category is, that just stands apart,” says Barry Cohen, the co-CEO of Luminox watches. “This is one of the prettiest cars ever designed.”
Cohen owns a 1966 Jag E-Type roadster, opalescent gun-metal on the exterior, oatmeal on the interior (both original E-Type paints from the 1960s). Here at the Quail, every exotic car you can imagine is on display, and plenty more that you’ve never imagined: Bugattis, Listers, Lolas, rare Ferraris, Lamborghinis by the dozen. The E-Types—the only carin the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art—have turned out in force. Cohen bought his just 18 months ago. “It went through a complete nut and bolt restoration,” he says, “65,000 pieces taken apart and put back together. I think you can see they did a great job.” Uh, yeah.
Right next to Cohen’s E-Type sits Scott and Kevin Robertson’s hand-built 1961 Jag, the ninth E-Type coupe to be completed at the factory, chassis #885009. During the restoration of this car, the pair had to hunt all over the globe for parts; others had to be freshly fabricated, according to exact specifications that were to be found on the original. The man in charge of the restoration is the same guy who handled Cohen’s E-Type—David Ferguson. Clearly he knows what he’s doing.
Robert Wagstaff of Alaska is sitting with his British racing green 1965 E-Type coupe that he purchased three months ago. “I’ve always loved Jaguars, and I’ve owned some in the past, but this is my first E-Type,” he says. Is this the most beautiful car he’s ever seen? “It’s certainly one of them.”
Take a gander as this collection of E-Type photography. It’s amazingly rare to see so many E-Types in such beautiful shape, all in one place. That alone makes the insanely annoying traffic jams of the Monterey Car Week worthwhile, and then some.—A.J. Baime
3:30pm: The 1974 Lancia Stratos Gives Us Much Pleasure
Vintner Mark Ketcham has owned a Ferrari NART alloy bodied Spider, a 250 Testa Rossa deaccessioned by the Henry Ford Museum, and a Maserati 200Si, but he says that none of them has given him pleasure like his indigo and sunshine yellow-liveried 1974 Lancia Stratos rallye car. "No matter how fast you go, it keeps going, 'There's more. There's more.'"
Ketcham bought the car only a couple years ago, on the advice of a friend, a Stratos fanatic. The car, a rally champ still retaining its numbers-matching 2.5 liter Ferrari Formula2 engine--then underwent a total overhaul in German. As soon as it was done, Kertcham had it shipped to Italy in time for the 40th anniversary of the cars World Rally championship this past summer in Italy. "That was the first time I drove my car," Ketcham says. He ended up taking home the championship trophy.
Ketcham is a sizable fellow, and I wonder about how comfortably he fit in the tiny, short wheelbase wedge. So he demonstrated his method for me, sitting down, ducking under the door, torquing in one leg and then the other. "Once you're in, it's pretty comfortable," he said, looking not entirely comfortable, but incredibly happy.
"When we won the trophy in Italy, at the awards ceremony," he says, "I had my whole family there. And I told the crowd, The award I really want is for the biggest man to ever fit into a Stratos. I joked that the only way I got into the car every day was with a shoehorn and a can of olive oil." He grinned. "The Italians loved that."—Brett Berk
2:15pm: Chatting with Christian von Koenigsegg
When we stopped by the Koenigsegg display at the Quail in Pebble Beach, we expected carbon-drenched fever dreams. We didn't expect to see the mastermind himself, Christian von Koenigsegg, standing in the middle of it all. Since he had nothing better to do, he walked us through his new $2.1 million Regera.
The Drive: Where should we start?
Koenigsegg: With these beautiful carbon fiber wheels. We make them in-house and we use carbon because this shape would be very heavy if we made them out of aluminium. This way they can retain their lightness while still being very beefy and sturdy. We also make our own brake calipers. We have software that tests every kind of load case, heat point, and so on and optimizes the caliper for strength while making it machinable. Those are affixed to a carbon ceramic custom sized disc.
Very cool. What else are you proud of on the exterior?
We have the first fully robotic body, meaning everything is motorized, from the frunk to the doors to the engine cover. If you look at the frunk, you'll see what look like normal gas struts but there's a tiny hydraulic control which runs along them to power them. It adds so little weight, we were able to include that.
The powertrain is unique in that there is no gearing.
Correct. The engine is connected directly to a hydro coupling for torque conversion then right into the rear axle. We have an electrical motor on the crank, too, and we can provide torque in high amounts all the way from 0 rpm to 8250 rpm. We have an electric motor on each side of the rear axle, each good for 500 lb-ft of torque and 250 horsepower. The gas engine gets 1,100 horsepower and the electrics get another 700 HP so we have a ton of power here.
How fast can it go?
The top speed is 251 mph but that is rev-limited. It could probably go faster but do you need to? You will hit 250 mph in 21 seconds so this is a very quick machine.
You're producing only 80 of these Regeras in the next five years. How are sales going?
They're selling like hotcakes. Reasonably specced, you're looking at about 2.5 million dollars per car and we already have a waiting list for production. Each car takes about 4,000 hours to build so we have our work cut out for us. [Laughs]—Sean Evans
11:45am: A 1967 Lamborghini Miura Barn Find
It's the 50th Anniversary of the Lamborghini Miura, and . One day a couple years ago, Chicago native Bill Nielsen's mother called him and said, "Do you still want that car?" Um, yes. "That car" is a 1967 Lamborghini Miura, and it had been on blocks in his grandmother's cousin's garage since 1988. Two years ago, Neilsen started the process of rescucitating the engine and getting the car in running order.
"I don't think I'm going to restore it," the 31-year-old Neilsen says, standing on the lawn of the Quail, surrounded by an army of candy-colored Miuras. "I like old stuff, and if you look around, every Miura out there is restored. I don't think the world needs a new one."
The family bought the car in 1970 from its second owner in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Wisconsin. The first owner was actually General Motors, who purchased it new in '67 and reverse-engineered the drivetrain. When the bill of sale (for $5,500) was passed onto the Neilsen's, the Miura had under 900 miles on the odometer. Today, it's got 18,000 and change.
"We'll keep it for now," Neilsen says, sipping a beer. "No plans. Just enjoying the weather."—Mike Guy
11:30am: One-on-One with Car Matchmaker's Spike Feresten
While outside a forum hosted by Jay Leno and Donald Osborne at Spanish Bay, we ran into Spike Feresten. For the uninitiated, Feresten hosts Car Matchmaker on the Esquire channel, where he brings three potential cars for a buyer to find their perfect vehicle. Feresten’s also known for his work in comedy, especially his work on Seinfeld. We chatted with him while waiting for Leno’s talk to start.
The Drive: Are you here working or playing?
Feresten: Both. I’m shooting a new pilot for Esquire all about covering the 10 auctions that matter every year around the world. So we’re here to film a bit, but I’m also looking around. I just sold my 365 GTC4. Closed the deal in a little cafe that Steve McQueen used to frequent out in Big Sur. That felt good.
Does that mean there’s a little space in your garage now?
It does. I’m hosting a forum here [at Spanish Bay] tomorrow for first-time collector car buyers. I'll be talking about something I'm considering from eBay, which is not a buying method I recommend. But I found an ‘88 Ferrari 328 GTS in Lake Worth, Florida that I’m very interested in. It’s in a silver over tan trim, which I love.
What do you love about hosting your matchmaking show?
You’re a car person. The people reading this are car people. You’ll understand that people often as your advice about cars and then do whatever they want. [Laughs] I love it when people actually follow my advice. I like helping educate people and I like that I can give them a tangible experience by putting them in cars.
Have you seen Jerry Seinfeld since you’ve been out here? You guys are buds.
Yes! Jerry and I did a dinner and went to Carmel to walk around the other night but he’s gone already. It’s his son’s birthday and he wanted to get back for that. We’re trying to get his son’s birthday changed to a later day, so he can stop missing Pebble Beach. [Laughs]
He must really love his kid, since he really loves his cars.
Or he’s terrified of his wife. [Laughs]
What have you seen out here that you loved?
The valet circle at Spanish Bay is very intense. Love that. But I really like seeing everything in motion. I’m a huge fan of pulling up to a restaurant out here and seeing a 300SL pull in right behind me.
What’s one thing that would surprise most people about Pebble Beach?
That three people can drive the whole market up. Jerry and I went to dinner the other night with 15 buyers and brokers and they are in command of so much money. They all go after the same few cars and they spike the price significantly and instantly. I had three friends all chasing the same 993 RS and they were all over the world and didn’t realize they were bidding against each other. I called them and said ‘Stop.’
No. They really wanted the car. [Laughs]—Sean Evans
8:20am: The Ford GT40 Alert Sounds at Pebble With These 1996 Le Mans Winners.
In my lifetime I have seen lots of celebrities. I've hung out with Tom Brady and Mike Tyson—just a few examples. This beats that. The pictures you see here are of the Ford GT40 that won the 24 hours of Le Mans historically in 1966. This is the first car from an American company ever to win the race, at a time when it was at its height of fame, the Golden Age of Motoring. The tires you see there are actually 50-year-old tires. They look pretty sharp right? I wouldn't motor into a turn at 160 miles per hour on them, but they're pretty to look at. The car was recently restored by RK Motors, as you may already know if you peruse this website with any regularity. And the photos were taken on the Pebble Beach golf course, part of the opening salvo of this weekend's Concours d'Elegance.
The two drivers who won Le Mans in this car are sadly past on: Bruce McLaren, who launched the fabulously successful McLaren brand and racing team, and Chris Amon, who left us earlier this month. But this car motors on in their memory and in ours. Look closely in these pictures and you'll see a gentleman standing in the back: Raj Nair, chief engineer of Ford Motor Company. Even Nair was starstruck by this beautiful machine.—A.J. Baime