For 18 long months, Northern and Southern California were—like Brad and Angelina—definitively separated. On May 20, 2017, a mudslide changed the landscape of one of the state’s most famous vistas, shutting down California Highway 1—more commonly known as the Pacific Coast Highway—in the Mud Creek region of Big Sur. The location suffered tremendous damage, resulting in nearly 50 acres of land displaced, making it impossible to drive the iconic highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Mud Creek slide was daunting in size and called for an emergency response with all hands on deck to prop up the PCH—a highway that ordinarily spans a spectacular 650 miles and has thrived for 84 years of California’s history.
Everything old is new again—a truism that is wonderfully embodied by Ferrari’s new limited-edition Icona series of cars, which are visually inspired by the marque’s iconic barchetta-bodied racers of the 1950s. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll find that the vehicles are packed with the most cutting-edge sports car technology available.
Call it a fix for speed junkies, a gearhead indulgence, or simply unadulterated fun—BMW has created a place where willing individuals can unapologetically partake in satisfying their thirst for speed in broad daylight. It’s called the Performance Center, and it was created by the marque to give consumers the opportunity to learn precision driving while experiencing the exhilarating performance on tap from vehicles that comprise the company’s sporting lineup.
Think of it as a high-performance-driving starter kit for automotive aesthetes. In celebration of Italian coachbuilder Zagato’s 100-year anniversary in 2019, Aston Martin has introduced the DBZ Centenary collection, which comprises the track-only DB4 GT Zagato Continuation and the road-legal DBS GT Zagato—meaning that for about $7.9 million, you can get keys to both a vintage-inspired weekend-warrior racecar and your contemporary daily driver all in one swoop. The two cars will only be sold together, and just 19 pairs will be produced.
Earlier this year, Infiniti boldly announced that all of its vehicles would be powered by electricity by 2021. The Prototype 10 Concept, unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is another step in the company’s quest toward achieving that goal.
“The Prototype 10 you see at Pebble is another proof point of our strategy to electrify our portfolio,” says Infiniti president Roland Krueger. “The team has been working for quite some time on the technical side and the design side, and what you see now is a great example of how the design language and the proportions of the car are evolving.”
On a recent business trip to Detroit (which included visits to the country’s top auto manufacturers), Craig Jackson—the chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company—learned that annual sales of aftermarket engine components and crate engines could soon eclipse $1 billion. Those projected sales numbers reflect the growing popularity of significantly customized vehicles, including restomods—a term used to describe classic automobiles (mainly from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s) that are modified to be more comfortable, offer contemporary conveniences and amenities, and deliver better performance, all while retaining their classic lines, proportions, and overall aesthetics.
Jaguar Classic is determined to keep the marque’s iconic vintage models alive for future collectors, and to that end, earlier this year announced a 25-unit run of a reborn D-type racer from 1962. Now the division is going back to the future with an electrified E-type, a prototype of which was unveiled at the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week.
A 1964 Shelby Cobra 289ci Competition Roadster earned top lot status at Bonhams’s Goodwood Revival automotive auction, held September 8, at the Goodwood Estate in Chichester, England. Estimated at $1.5 million to $1.9 million, the Shelby Cobra commanded $1.7 million, setting a record for any Cobra at auction in Europe.
The warship Vasa was commissioned by King Gustavus Augustus of Sweden in the 1600s to expand the country’s military presence in Poland-Lithuania. On August 10, 1628, the 226-foot vessel—adorned with ornate woodwork and multiple bronze canons—sank on its maiden voyage after traveling a mere 1,400 yards from its port in Stockholm. The ship’s top-heavy construction caused it to topple over, sending it, and many of its crew, to the bottom of the sea. The Vasa’s fate was a stark reminder that beauty alone is often not enough.
The specialists at Velocity Restorations know a thing or two about breathing new life into classic Ford Broncos. The Pensacola, Fla., shop was founded over a decade ago by friends and Bronco fanatics Stuart Wilson and Brandon Segers, who had both bought and restored their own original Broncos within six months of each other. Today, the shop completes around 15 to 20 custom Broncos each year, with each restoration requiring about 1,500 hours of labor and about nine months to gestate.
Nissan is about as far removed from the million-dollar collector car universe as possible. A mass-market automaker bound by pragmatic selling points like cargo capacity and fuel economy deals in volume, not exclusivity.
What, then, should we make of the $1.1 million GT-R50? Codeveloped by Italdesign, a renowned design and engineering house, the GT-R50 is a faster, lighter, and more elegant take on Nissan’s sports car icon. Its release also marks the 50th anniversaries of both the Italian and Japanese brands. Clad in carbon-fiber bodywork and gold accents, Nissan’s first seven-figure model cannonballs into the hypercar pool. Amidst titans like the Koenigsegg Agera and Pagani Huayra, the GT-R50 must do no less than dazzle during our short test-drive in Malibu, Calif.
The Goodwood Revival—held annually for the past 20 years at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex, England—celebrates the famed motorsports track’s reemergence in 1998 after its closure in 1966. This year, more than 150,000 people attended the weekend’s events (September 7 to 9), which included auctions, shopping, displays, and, of course, racing. Not only does the event attract some of the most beautiful vintage cars still in existence, it also lets these pinnacles of past performance duke it out on the track to the thrill of the spectators lining the course.
Near the end of last month, at the famed WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., Audi unveiled the PB18 E-Tron, a new, all-electric sports car that promises to break barriers in the realms of both design and technology. Described by Audi executives as “a cross between a supercar like an R8 and a sportback,” the track-worthy racer looks like something out of the future with its shooting-brake-style silhouette, voluptuous lines, and blistering performance.
When it comes to cost and complexity, few cars come close to the multimillion-dollar Bugatti Chiron (as evidenced in part by the fact that we awarded the Chiron our Robb Report Best of the Best award in 2018). This ultra-luxurious super-coupe has a quad-turbocharged W-16 engine, all-wheel drive, and a top speed in excess of 260 miles per hour. Yet even this incredible 1,479 hp supercar might have met its match, thanks to a dedicated team of Lego engineers who’ve created a fully drivable 1:1 scale replica of the Chiron.
In the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz was setting land speed records and dominating racing with its Silver Arrow racecars. Known as the W125, the grand prix car employed some of the most advanced technology of its time, including a stiff tubular frame construction, a constant mesh transmission, and a supercharged, eight-cylinder engine that made 637 bhp and sent the car hurtling to speeds of up to 195 mph. At the same time, the Silver Arrows embodied a pure, organic design with reduced lines and functional shapes.
The exhibition juxtaposes a range of rare conveyances—everything from a 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom to a 2018 Bugatti Chiron—against fashion, art, architecture, and design. The display will travel to Miami Beach in February and then to Hong Kong in May.
One important exhibitor at the recent Concorso Italiano—held every year on the Californian coast to coincide with Monterey Car Week—was the Italian restoration house Bacchelli & Villa. The firm was established in 1972 by Franco Bacchelli, who began his career as the first employee of Piero Drogo, maker of important competition cars for Ferrari, Bizzarrini, and others. With partner Roberto Villa, an expert panel beater, he opened a body shop situated not far from the Ferrari factory in Maranello.
Concorso Italiano—the world’s biggest Italian car concours—hits the lawn every August during Monterey Car Week. This year marked the 33rd get-together, and the event featured more than 1,000 Italian automobiles and motorcycles. Badges ranged from Abarth to Zagato and included marques both famous and obscure in between. For those taking names, these would include Alfa Romeo, ASA, ATS, Bizzarrini, Cisitalia, DeTomaso, Ferrari, Fiat, Iso, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati, and a few others ending in “i.”
During Monterey Car Week, legendary coachbuilder and design house Automobili Pininfarina gave a peek into the future—its own future. Historically known for penning some of the more beautiful and iconic automobile bodies such as the Cisitalia, Nash-Healey, and Ferrari Sergio, Pininfarina is being escorted into the next generation by its own bloodline, company chairman Paulo Pininfarina.
The Corvette formula has remained largely unchanged since the first Polo White convertibles rolled off the production line in 1953. All ‘Vettes have two seats, power to the rear wheels, and a massive motor up front to get it all moving quickly—and in the case of the 2019 Corvette ZR1, very quickly. Dealer allocation of America’s hottest sportscar is limited and the ZR1 ‘Vette is expected to become a future collector’s car.
The greatest of all time. It’s a debate that rages everywhere from barrooms to boardrooms over sports figures, but when it comes to sports cars, one model seems to own the conversation—the Ferrari 250 Gran Turismo Omologato (GTO), at least according to collectors. On August 25, at the RM Sotheby’s sale in Monterey, Calif., that prancing horse’s pedestal was placed even higher when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO became not only the most expensive Ferrari sold at auction but the costliest car of any kind to ever cross the block. When the frenetic bidding reached fruition, the competition coupe had fetched a remarkable $48.4 million.
Nobody I know has spent more time behind a camera photographing great cars than Photodesign Studios’ Scott Williamson. Not only is Williamson the longest-running photo contributor to Robb Report, he’s a world-renowned master of the shutter. His images have appeared in publications, museums, and private collections around the world. Williamson recognizes that it’s the details of a car—and a photograph—that distinguish the merely good from the truly great. And like the best car designers themselves, he’s able to capture the subtlest of subtle nuances that define the words most important automobiles.
For its 25th anniversary next year, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will celebrate with a host of exhibits underscoring the role of the automobile in shaping American culture. Foremost among them will be an “Imagining the Future” showcase studying the future of mobility.
“We’re not looking to the past,” said Peter Mullin, chairman of the Petersen’s board, during the museum’s annual breakfast at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday. “It has everything to do with where we’re going in the automotive world, not just where we’ve been.”
Forget mere auto shows; the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and surrounding events on Northern California’s coast rank among the most prestigious places to see the world’s most enticing classic cars. It’s also where many marques use the idyllic backdrop to unveil some of their boldest and most audacious concepts. This year, we saw head-turners from big brands such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Infiniti, plus debuts from boutique automotive houses including Pininfarina and Hennessey. Here are the ones that captured our attention.
The crowning glory of Monterey Car Week is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, held this year for the 68th time on the 18th fairway of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course. Chaired by renowned automobile collector Sandra Button and judged by some of the world’s foremost classic car experts, the councours is a must-see for every automotive enthusiast. Among the 2018 assemblage of pre- and post-war beauties, we saw special classes for the Italian marque Osca, the short-lived but innovative Tucker, Eisenhower-era convertibles, and motorcars of the Raj. Here are some of the winners.
Every August, Northern California becomes the nexus of the world’s automotive industry. That’s when the comprehensive Monterey Car Week unfolds – packed full of worldwide model debuts and the highest-quality concours. Among the latter, one event has become a fast-growing favorite of car makers and collectors alike: The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering. For its 16th running, the car show was held on the lawns of the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel and attracted more than 5,000 attendees who came to see a field of more than 250 automobiles compete for acclaim in roughly a dozen categories. Here are a few of the top performers.
The return to a childhood home can be anticlimactic, as one’s place in the community’s collective consciousness may often subside with time and tide. Then again, it also depends on the wheels you roll up in. I found that out on a recent test-drive around the stomping grounds of my youth, when the rearview revealed a swarm of schoolchildren—armed with camera phones—chasing me with a persistence and pace usually reserved for ice cream trucks. But it wasn’t my photo they wanted to capture; it was the new Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster I was wearing. Italy’s high-performance marque, based in Sant’Agata Bolognese, has generated this level of fervor for generations. It began when founder Ferruccio Lamborghini unleashed his first raging bull for production, the 350 GT coupe, in 1964. Its convertible counterpart—the 350 GTS designed by Carrozzeria Touring—debuted the following year and boasted 320 hp, 276 ft lbs of torque, and a top speed of 155 mph. More than a half-century of advancements later, the Aventador S Roadster (starting at $460,247) enters the ring. But while its DNA is undeniable, this Lambo seems light-years ahead in design, power, and performance.
When it comes to Porsche’s classic 911 series, the German marque would like to respectfully remind adoring fans that it’s not only Singer Vehicle Design who can create exquisitely restored and reimagined versions of its iconic, air-cooled two-seater. So, as part of its 70th Anniversary celebrations, Porsche is unveiling Project Gold, a breathtaking recreation of one of its most sought-after models, the 993-generation 911 Turbo from 1998.
Eleven minutes. That’s about how long it took Steve McQueen, starring as Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, to defeat a pair of evildoers while behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang in the hit 1968 film Bullitt. In the process, two bad guys in a Dodge Charger are sent careening to a fiery finale—and, simultaneously, the world of cinema realized a mesmerizing car chase equals box-office gold.
Lewis Hamilton greets me in his air-conditioned trailer holding a box of raw cremini mushrooms. “Want one?” he asks, extending his arm. I decline. “Suit yourself,” he says, and pops one in his mouth. “I quite fancy mushrooms. Well . . . not those kind of mushrooms,” he adds with a laugh. He is still wearing the last look from his earlier photo shoot for Robb Report, an outfit he chose himself after eschewing a more traditional suit. The black trousers and houndstooth-and-velvet coat by Colombian-born designer Haider Ackermann are far too glamorous for our digs—a Star Waggon parked on a dusty runway in Inyo-kern, roughly 3 hours by car from Los Angeles in Southern California’s high desert. What the locale lacks in panache, however, it makes up for in scenery—an arid pastel landscape set against the Sierra Nevada foothills. For racing fans, Hamilton needs no introduction. Last year he earned his fourth Formula 1 world championship, putting