2022 MONTEREY CAR WEEK AT PEBBLE BEACH
A CLOSE-UP OF 2022 MONTEREY CAR WEEK AT PEBBLE BEACH AND CARMEL
I’VE BEEN A CAR NUT SINCE CHILDHOOD, SO ATTENDING MONTEREY Car Week which culminates at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the 18th fairway of the famed golf course has been a dream trip. This year’s dream journey, brought to me by Land Rover, started on Wednesday morning when I was handed the keys to a new Land Rover Discovery. I immediately took off for the wilds of downtown Monterey, where it fit in perfectly among the Ferraris, Astons, Audis, and their like as well as the Packards, Talbots, and more exotic cars of yesteryear. Next stop: the Bonhams auction tent in a field next to The Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to peruse the cars slated to be sold over the next few days. My favorite was a bright red 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe being sold by the original owner’s daughter. Thursday brought more delights. I drove the Discovery to the Range Rover House, an absolutely incredible private home serving as Range Rover’s “base camp” (“base mansion” would be more accurate) right on the cliff overlooking a charming, rocky cove in the Carmel Highlands area. Then it was time to take the Discovery through Big Sur and on to the Ventana Resort for a private lunch in the glass house which sports incredible views from an intimate patio. Following lunch, I swapped back to the Land Rover, a sumptuous vehicle that felt like the Rolls- Royce Cullinan’s cousin, it was so luxurious and quiet. That evening I attended the Land Rover dinner party and the unveiling of the Range Rover SV Carmel Edition (an ultra-exclusive model-only 66 will be made with a price tag of $345,000). Land Rover pledged some of the proceeds to support the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Suffice it to say that the four seats in this cabin are the most opulent ever seen in a Range Rover and include comforts such as special leather, white ceramic controls, fold-out workstations, and more. Thursday’s events included the auction previews for Goodings, Bonhams, and RM Sothebys; previews of the DeLorean Alpha V, Czinger21C, and V Max; the unveiling of the Lexus Electrified Sports Concept; the Bentley media preview; and the Maserati MC-20, GT, and Grecale SUV viewing at the Maserati mansion.
Friday was the first full car day, starting with The Quail, the quintessential private car party held annually at The Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley on an incredible golf course owned and operated by Peninsula Hotels group. The cars are spread out, and each manufacturer has a stand or stage. A press pass allows entry long before the general public, so that was a great time to conduct interviews. I started with the father and son team of Kevin and Lukas Czinger to talk about their amazing 21C and 21C V Max cars. The two models are completely built with 3D printers! Their self-made company includes three lines of business: 1) design software for optimization, 2) prototyping industry, and 3) assembly and production. One can tell that they started as a tech company, not a car company, and have segued. They now make a fully printed subframe for Aston Martin. Their current model offerings are the V Max, the 21C, and the Hyper GT. The first two offer seating for two, with the single passenger directly behind the driver. The Hyper GT is a 4-seat coupe. Watch for big things from this high-tech family.
The Rolls-Royce stand at The Quail presented the new Phantom Series II. What a car! Rolling luxury and elegance together, the newest RR was a sight to behold. The first thing one notices is that the famous “Parthenon” grille now is illuminated (as if it needed to be more noticeable). With new headlights, the nose is even more imposing. The wheels are different now, sporting discs more reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties than today’s bespoke spokes. The interior offers more options now, including cloth seating areas. The car really looks like the interior was designed and created on Saville Row, as the materials and finishes resemble a very fine suit more than an automotive interior.
Lamborghini’s stand displayed the new Urus S which joins the Performante in the Urus stable. With a slight “hp bump” (16 more), the performance metrics remain mostly unchanged, but the exhaust sound is a little more distinctive. It’s hard to believe that Lamborghini could pack more testosterone into their sports ute, but they have.
The MC20 is a gorgeous machine showing what Maserati is capable of and harkens back to their racing victories of the 1950s and 1960s when Maserati and Ferrari vied for championships. What a beautiful car! Having the chance the next day to visit with the CEO and learn more about this supercar added to the luster.
Saturday night belonged to Bentley, as it has for several years. Their signature party at the Beach & Tennis Club is one of the largest parties with live music and food and drink aplenty— not to be missed. The night started with the Bentley Motors Chairman Adrian Hallmark and Bentley USA CEO Christophe Georges unveiling the spectacular Batur, a $2 million bespoke car. Only 18 will be built, and all are spoken for. It was a fitting prelude to a special night.
My last Car Week adventure on Sunday began around 5 a.m. I wanted to experience the “Dawn Patrol.” It’s really a great experience, watching, hearing, and smelling the cars enter the 18th fairway. It’s really a 3D VR-meets-IRL experience to see these cars entering the runway under their own power, many being conducted by owners dressed in their best period finery. Some growl, a few wheeze, and several pop-pop, but all make it by to their hard-earned places on the vaunted golf-course-turned- fashion-runway, sharing the stage, as it were, with some of the finest metal known to man. Other than tasting the cars, it’s a feast for all of the senses.
This year’s Sunday schedule was more leisurely, with interviews on the concept lawn adjacent to the main building at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Interviews with Lamborghini’s head of engineering are a delight. He walked me through the special Urus Performante set up for its record Pike’s Peak run. Some may think of Lambos as boulevardiers, but that is one mean, purpose-built machine that came home with the medal.
My next interview was with William Peffer, CEO of Maserati. He walked me around the MC20, which looked even more spectacular on the lawn in the morning sun. Also on the lawn were incredible concepts from Lincoln Motors and the newest DeLorean. A stroll through the day’s offerings brought one delight after another. With the sun high in the sky and the glistening Monterey Bay mere yards away, there was no better place to experience the best automotive creations. Cars even the cognoscenti haven’t heard of competed with other equally obscure vehicles, much to the delight of all. Each had been shined and polished to a fare-thee-well, especially implausible for vehicles at or past the 100-year mark.
The 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo, shown by Lee R. Anderson, Sr., was named Best of Show at the 71st Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The lavish ceremony on the ramp in front of the Lodge at Pebble Beach was a fitting end to Car Week 2022, a cornucopia of cars and an overflowing of octane, after which car lovers of the world will be satiated for yet another year.
“CAR WEEK 2022 WAS A CORNUCOPIA OF CARS AND AN OVERFLOWING OF OCTANE, AFTER WHICH CAR LOVERS OF THE WORLD WILL BE SATIATED FOR YET ANOTHER YEAR.’
Going to the Bugatti display next to the Pebble Beach Golf Course always is a delight. I’ve been a huge fan of the brand since childhood. However, my mission for the day was to interview Achim Anscheidt, the chief designer for Bugatti, about himself and the new hyper car, the Bugatti Mistral. I feel like a fanboy when I get to spend time with him, which I now have done for a combined several hours over the past 17 years. He’s one of the most affable, unassuming, well-spoken, and kind gentlemen I know, and his quiet demeanor belies his incredible talent. Having him point out the styling cues of his newest creation and how they echo the Bugattis of the past is a terrific experience. Spending some time with the Mistral was a real treat, too. I couldn’t drive it, but I received a special up-close-and-personal experience with it. It’s a fitting tribute to the last W16-powered vehicle from the storied marque, as future cars will be hybrids and then all-electrical.
From Bugatti I went to the Inn at Spanish Bay to experience the new Lucid Air. This new vehicle brand was born in Silicon Valley, the company initially building powertrains and batteries for other manufacturers. With senior executives arriving from positions with other manufacturers like Tesla and Mazda, the company hit the ground running. Their first car, the Lucid Air, was the one I drove that day. It was an absolute pleasure. The luxury car’s high quality fit and finish includes some unusual features, such as a windshield that continues into the top, providing a truly panoramic view. The technology is impressive: the motor unit is quite small compared to other electric cars’ propulsion systems, yet the car is incredibly quick. Once production ramps up, supply may start to catch up with great demand.
I missed this year’s Concorso Ferrari, which is one of the highlights for me each year. Ferrari rents a great location on the first fairway of the Pebble Beach golf course where they display truly special models. Their party has a terrific Italian vibe. Unable to be there in person, I was there in spirit, having field tested many of their cars this year, including the beautiful Roma and the incredible SF90 Stradale.
I spent the afternoon at two marques’ houses, first with Koenigsegg to say hello to Christian and Haldora von Koenigsegg and to see their newest model, the CC850 (the “ideal combination of classic design and cutting-edge technology” which I would call a 1,350 hp bundle of meanness with a real stick-shift transmission). Also on display was the gorgeous Gemera (the same one I sat in during the launch tour). I haven’t driven either one and hope to get some seat time soon. The Gemera is Koenigsegg’s first 4-door car and sports enormous gullwing doors to allow access to both the front and rear seats. Though I’ve seen them before, these cars in “person” are even more impressive, especially when Christian and Haldora are talking about them.
The afternoon’s second stop was Maserati, a few minutes from the Koenigsegg house. The gorgeous, sky blue MC20 was on the patio, and the beautiful Greycale Trofeo occupied the rear garden.
At my next stop at the opulent Hispano Suiza stand, I met CEO Sergio Martinez Campos and saw the all-new offering from this Spanish legend. “Hispano Suiza” literally translates to “Hispanic Swiss” in a nod to the company’s founding, as they had factories in both Spain and Switzerland. The same family has run the company since its founding in 1904, and they just unveiled the Carmen Boulogne, an all-electric vehicle with a motor at each wheel and a body that is sculptural and imposing at the same time. The first one produced-a bright purple car which drew attention everywhere was already sold to a collector in Miami who allowed the company to show it at The Quail.
I moved to the Ruf Automobile stand of Alois and Estonia Rufis. That was somewhat of a culture shock, as the no-nonsense Porsches from this atelier have little adornment or flourish. Alois is a friendly, welcoming man, but his cars are all business as well as absolute perfection. Starting his company as an aftermarket “tuner” for Porsches, his creations are now almost entirely of his company’s making, literally creating new 911s with upgraded and updated components. He also has created some bespoke models (with prices expected to range from hundreds of thousands to over $1 million).
Friday evening’s events included Aston Martin’s unveiling party for their new hypercar, the Mercedes Benz cocktail preview, the McLaren cocktail party, the Alfa Romeo event at a winery, and a Lamborghini customer event at the Lamborghini house on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach golf course.
Saturday started out bright and early with a visit to the Mercedes lounge to pick up a couple of “loaners” for a few hours. The bright red SL 55 AMG was up first-and what a stunner! I dropped the top and took off for 17 Mile Drive. The morning chill was just perfect to experience this open-aired beauty, and I couldn’t believe that it was almost 20 years old. I returned it (reluctantly) to borrow the bright red CLK 63 AMG Black, another vintage model from the Mercedes Classic group. This low-volume car (about 500 units) is a stormer of the first order, a car with the raison d’etre of causing a ruckus. It did not disappoint.