It was an event straight out of the auto show playbook. Car beneath sheet? Check. Execs talking (and talking) about the state of the automaker and everything we wanted to know (and some things we didn’t) about the car? Check. The only real difference was the location: a concrete mansion on the edge of a golf course filled with fabulous people (and me) shivering through a late summer evening on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
The world debut of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet, a vision of what the automaker imagines as a potential future of open-air super-luxury grand touring, was just one of several debuts and newsmaking announcements by the world’s top car companies during what has become known as Monterey Car Week.
As we outlined for you in our August issue, what began in 1950 as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Pebble Beach Road Race have morphed into a multiday extravaganza of events catering to all manner of automotive tastes.
A huge chunk of the folks who descend on the peninsula for the annual festivities have pockets deeper than the Marianas Trench, and they’re buying lots of cars for lots of money—sometimes into the tens of millions a pop, as you’ll see on page 94 in our breakdown of all the Monterey auction action.
With all that dough flying around, it’s increasingly become a place for today’s automakers to see and be seen among all the insanely expensive and impeccably restored machines—everything from historic racers bombing around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to dazzling super sports cars of all eras to massive prewar masterpieces from long gone but not forgotten marques.
In addition to the stunning Vision 6, Mercedes-AMG also showcased the powertrain for the upcoming Project One, its Formula 1-inspired, 1,000-plus horsepower hybrid hypercar. They’re ringing in at around $2.5 million apiece, and we’re betting more than a few were sold in Monterey.
Volkswagen showed up on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links with a pack of its vintage hippie buses to trumpet the fact the 21st century, all-electric version of the iconic Microbus, the I.D. Buzz, will make it to production by 2022. In this month’s cover story, Georg Kacher drives the concept version of the Buzz into San Francisco’s legendary Haight-Ashbury district along with a bus from VW’s past as he details what to expect from the German marque’s electrified future.
Infiniti took a future-past approach to its big Pebble debut. Called the Prototype 9, the single seat, open-top, open-wheeled racer—done up in a ’40s-era torpedo style—was a hit with the crowds and looked the part among the old-school rides. There was one big thing missing from it, though: an ear-rupturing, fume-spitting powerplant because like the Buzz the Prototype 9 is electric powered. Look for Robert Cumberford’s critique of the new/old Infiniti in January’s issue.
November’s cover star, the BMW Z4 concept, also came out to the world in Monterey. As we detailed, the production Z4 is shaping up nicely, and it should be one stout roadster. Both the Z4 and the concept version of the coming BMW 8 Series look edgy and elegant, and along with the Z4’s Toyota Supra coupe sibling, we’re excited to see how all three perform when they reach production next year.
Other premieres during the week’s festivities included: Acura’s ARX-05 DPi race car, which will contest the entire 2018 IMSA schedule in a two-car effort run by Team Penske; noted designer Ken Okuyama’s Lamborgnini Aventador-based Code 0; and the 400R Concept, a resto-modded 993-series Porsche 911 by fledgling outfit Gunther Werks.
Ferrari brought a stable of Prancing Horses as part of its 70th anniversary celebration. On the golf course’s first fairway, 70 Ferraris past and present worth some $500 million parked and posed. Spectacular 250 and 288 GTOs shared the fairway with a LaFerrari, 212 Inter, 365 Daytonas, an F40 and F50. Mind-blowing.
The week always culminates with what is arguably the most famous concours in the world—the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The 67th edition’s Best of Show went to a Mercedes-Benz, which the esteemed Mr. Cumberford breaks down on page 34. It was a fortuitous choice, with grand tourers of past and future making news for the three-pointed star. From the looks of it, we’re going to see more automakers and others use Monterey for exposure in the future. And why not?
Want to see the cars I mentioned as well as a video recap of the concours? Then head over to 2017 Automobile coverage.