The Best Cars of The Quail 2018
One of Monterey Car Week’s premier events offers something for everyone
One of the events everyone looks forward to each year during the busy Monterey Car Week is The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. Held on the Quail Lodge and Golf Club's course on the Friday prior to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, The Quail always delivers on its promise of exhibiting some of the world's finest sporty and sporting automobiles. Here, our editors and contributors highlight their favorite cars from this year's edition.
1978 Dome Zero Concept
Any supercar enthusiast worth his salt knows the wedge movement was ignited in the late '60s by stunning Italian concepts like the Bertone-designed Lamborghini Marzal, Ferrari 512S Modulo by Pininfarina, and Lancia Stratos HF Zero. However, a little-known successor to the trend came a decade later in the form of the Japanese-built Dome Zero concept. Plucked from the Petersen Automotive Museum's Roots of Monozukuri exhibit, this 1-of-2 concept was Japan's stab at the doorstop genre that, unfortunately, ended up as a footnote in automotive history. Though it was at the trailing edge of the wedge movement, the Dome had a shot of going to production as an affordable, sharply designed sports car that would have made it a sort of Asian equivalent of a Lotus Esprit. —Basem Wasef
1951 Porsche 356 pre-A split-window coupe
The pureness of this 356 pre-A split-window coupe stopped more than a few onlookers as they strolled past it. It was far from the most conspicuous car, or even most conspicuous Porsche, on The Quail's grass, but these early models—of which the company made less than 2,000 (and who knows how many still exist)—showcase the sort of elegant design the Monterey and Pebble Beach crowd adore. Just look at the bumper work and, of course, the two-piece windshield Porsche used prior to 1952, before the company introduced the 356 A and a host of revisions to its classic sports car. —Mac Morrison
1970 Datsun 240Z
One of the first cars to catch my eye as I walked into The Quail was this 1970 Datsun 240Z, striking in its dark red livery with white striping along its lower profile. The 240Z was also one of the first Japanese sports cars to catch the eye of American enthusiasts, and thanks to a 2.4-liter straight-six with roughly 150 horsepower, it had some punch as well. This particular Z is one of the early '70 models (the first year of the Z) and is equipped with a four-speed manual. Datsun/Nissan was the featured marque at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the first Japanese automaker to be so honored, and the Z played a starring role in its performance lineage. This car, owned by Eric Breslow of Nevada, won The Quail's Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens, or FIVA, Award. —Mike Floyd
1979 Tamiya Sand Scorcher
This 1:1 scale tribute to Tamiya's classic 1:12 scale radio-control Sand Scorcher Baja-style Volkswagen Beetle was one of the most unique and whimsical cars to appear at The Quail. Alongside is its (non-functional) RC controller appropriately sized to the car. —Rory Jurnecka
A Flock of Yellow RUFs
We've obviously got a thing for these cars, as this is the third time we've mentioned them—and no, we didn't discuss it amongst ourselves ahead of time. But before all of the modern-era Porsche 911 mixologists arrived on the scene, there was RUF, the German outfit that created a legend with its CTR Yellow Bird. It's a treat to see one of these beasts in person, packing its 3.2-liter twin-turbo flat-six rated at 469 horsepower paired up with a five-speed manual, even more so when you gaze upon 1988 Yellow Bird No. 001 owned by super collector and Petersen Museum benefactor Bruce Meyer. Given that this was a special class celebrating the creations of Alois Ruf, there were several other birds of a feather flanking the Yellow Bird, most notably one of RUF's latest creations, the 2017 CTR. Also decked out in yellow on The Quail lawn was a 1998 CTR2 Sport. Based on the 993-series 911 Turbo, its 3.6-liter flat-six was tuned to 580 hp. —M.F.
1988 RUF CTR Yellow Bird
One of the beauties of The Quail is, no matter your age, you can almost certainly find something to stir memories of youth from long before you were of driver's-license age and, as a result, left only with your imagination to inform you of what it must be like to pilot the outrageous machines of the day. RUF's Yellow Bird is one of those cars; I recall reading about it in wonder back then on more than one occasion, and to see it in the flesh 30 years later makes it easy for me to block-out the rest of The Quail's impressive participants, if only for a few moments.
For goodness sake, its 3.2-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine made something in the neighborhood of 500 horsepower, and it reached 211 mph on its way to becoming what was then the world's fastest production vehicle. Those numbers are impressive even by modern-car standards, but back then? It was absolutely staggering speed achieved by a rather pedestrian-looking little 911 that blew the reigning supercars of the '80s into the weeds. In retrospect, I recognize that this car (and others like it) has more than a little to do with why I chose to enter this profession. —M.M.
RUF Automobiles GmbH's prominent placement and "reunion" at this year's Quail Motorsports Gathering was well earned; the manufacturer's reputation was cemented three decades ago when the 211 mph Yellow Bird set the Nürburgring Nordschleife record, launching the brand into fame. The latest RUF (and first model built on its own carbon-fiber platform) may bear a passing resemblance to the legendary and recently restored Yellow Bird that's now under the stewardship of Bruce Meyer, but this 223-mph missile is powered by a Metzger design twin-turbo 3.6-liter flat-six producing 700 horsepower. Though it sits wider and longer than the original model, the new car managed to blend seamlessly with the old, offering a modern reinterpretation of the legend while sticking to the signature 911 look. Stay tuned for Automobile's first drive report on this limited production supercar. —B.W.
1977 ItalyCar Ferrari 312T2
You might find this one an odd pick, but in Monterey Car Week's churning sea of rarity, outrageous cars become commonplace. In other words, it's more difficult than ever to stumble across something you haven't already seen more than once at various car shows. This fun 1:2-scale replica of the Ferrari Formula 1 car driven during the famous 1976 grand prix season by Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni is owned by Dick Caradori of Missouri. It features many 1:2-scale parts that its manufacturer, ItalyCar, procured originally from the F1 team's real-life partners, though it uses a small two-stroke engine for power. The mini Ferrari boasts independent suspension all-around, rack-and-pinion steering, a two-speed gearbox also with reverse, a genuine Momo steering wheel, and even air ducts to keep the brakes cool.
A friend of Caradori's based in North Carolina brought this example to the U.S. in 1979 and offered it to him for $5,000, but he passed on the opportunity. But in 1984, he changed his mind and paid $8,000 for it as a plaything for his then-young son, Kevin. As it turns out, this is a rare piece of quirky history, as ItalyCar's planned run of 100 examples in reality only produced a handful of 1:2 312s, reportedly five finished copies. (Whether that was because Ferrari put the clamps on the project or ItalyCar went bankrupt depends upon whom you ask.) One of those sold last year for almost $90,000—but this car's owner says he has no plans to let his go. —M.M.
1953 Porsche 356 America Coupe
Early U.S. Porsche distributor Max Hoffman gets credit for the America "trim level" as seen on this 356 coupe. The idea was to produce a cheaper 356 with fewer luxury features that would attract American buyers used to cheap and simple British sports cars. This example is highly original, save for its repaint from red to beige, and it was recently rescued from long-term storage to be put back on the road. —R.J.
1973 Volvo 1800ES
I've long had a soft spot for the Volvo 1800, and this 1973 1800ES two-door wagon in a British Racing Green-like hue turned that spot to pure mush. The final variant of the 1800, the ES is powered by a 2.0-liter four with roughly 125 horsepower, which is paired to a four-speed manual in this particular car. It also has the wild frameless rear glass tailgate Volvo reprised for the contemporary C30 coupe. Volvo only produced the 1800ES for two model years; it built a little more than 8,000 in all. Volvo is famous for its wagons, and this is arguably its most memorable model of the body style in its history, at least as far as I'm concerned. —M.F.
Acres of Espadas and Isleros
Miuras and Countaches may get all the glory for their unmistakable supercar silhouettes, but the Quail event deserves props for shining a light on the less celebrated Espada and Islero models. While their funky styling may not have earned precious poster real estate in their day, these two V-12-powered outliers are finally getting the recognition they deserve. —B.W.
Viva La Controversy
Nothing ruffles the feathers of dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads like electric vehicles, but Jaguar's battery-powered E-Type struck a special chord because it replaces the drivetrain of what Enzo Ferrari called "the most beautiful car in the world" with a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor. Jaguar can retrofit your XKE with the zero emissions hardware for around $75,000 (and keep the internal combustion equipment in case of remorse), or offer a turnkey electric E-Type for around $300,000. Cue the quarrels. —B.W.
1957 Alfa Romeo C 1900 SS Zagato
Alfa built just 40 1900 SS Zagatos and this is not just one of them, but also the very last one the company made. Just six of these cars wear Zagato's recognizable "double bubble" roof, a feature that is actually functional in that it gives helmeted drivers a little bit more headroom. —R.J.
1971 Honda TNIII Super DeLuxe
How can you go wrong with a name like Super DeLuxe (soooo Japanese)? We're also totally digging on that amazing white Honda logo dominating its flat front, key-lime pie colored face. Honda's little Kei truck hit the scene in the late 1960s and the TNIII made its appearance in 1970. It was extremely light at around 1,100 pounds, and as was the case with early Kei cars, a comically small engine powered it, in this case a 354cc I-2 with some 30 horsepower. The TNIII also benefitted from the addition of a fully synchronized four-speed manual. The Super DeLuxe was so named because it came with, er, deluxe options like a cigarette lighter and a radio!—M.F.
1929 Riley Brooklands
It's refreshing to find the Brits represented by a marque that's not amongst the usual suspects. This bright blue Riley Brooklands is one of the coolest open-wheeled British roadsters we've seen as of yet, with simple, streamlined bodywork and function-forward mechanical design. The 1.1-liter four-banger engine wasn't powerful, but the car was lightweight and well-balanced, claiming numerous wins in the competitive Pre-War era. —Conner Golden
1954 Kaiser Darrin
Howard "Dutch" Darrin was one of America's foremost designers of his era, and the '54 Darrin is one of his crowning achievements. It's an elegant looking machine with a few quirks like that tiny, kissy face grille. A partnership with industrialist and automotive magnate Henry J. Kaiser, the Darrin was innovative in several ways, thanks to its fiberglass body and parlor-trick doors that slid into the car instead of the traditional opening style. But the car proved underpowered thanks to its 161 cu-in flathead-six that had only 90 hp, and it was overpriced given its competition, not to mention the novel doors proved an issue to keep working properly. To make matters worse, it was plagued by production problems. Only 435 cars or so were built in all during its single model year run, and this particular car was retrofitted by Darrin with a 305-hp V-8 sourced from the Cadillac Eldorado to give it more punch. We featured a Darrin several years back in Automobile. —M.F.
1980 Ferrari Pinin Concept
It's 2018, people—nothing is sacred in the automotive space. Lamborghini, Maserati, Bentley, and Jaguar have mass-market SUVs, with Aston and Rolls-Royce not far behind. Porsche's gone electric crazy, and Ford readily admits a hybridized Mustang is on the horizon. I'd say it's about high time for a four-door Ferrari, and it seems Enzo himself thought the same thing in the 1980s.
Pininfarina was tapped for the four-door design study, resulting in this handsome one-off concept in 1980. It's built on the bones of the sedan-ish Ferrari 400GT coupe, packing a 4.8-liter flat-12 with a five-speed manual transmission. With the egg-crate grille and pillarless glass, it's a strange mix of classical and retro-futuristic design.
After the Pinin's show tour, Ferrari analyzed customer feedback, and ultimately decided against production. Production flaws are accepted more readily on low-volume sports cars, but the Pinin would have faced off against the best from Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce, and those standards were beyond Ferrari's capacity. —C.G.
And the Winner is: 1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200C Spider takes Best of Show
This 1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200C, owned by Anne Brockinton Lee of Nevada, won The Quail's Best of Show award, out of a field of more than 250 entrants in all. Lancias were a special class at the 2018 Quail, and this particular car stood out from that pack of wild Italians. Powered by a 2.0-liter V-6 with roughly 90 horsepower and styled by Pininfarina with jet-age cues, no two PF200s were exactly alike. This is one of only three Spider versions of the car known to exist, so it's also incredibly rare. —M.F.