If I could select only one word with which to describe the Monterey vintage automobile week, it would certainly be “overwhelming”. The sights, sounds, and smells had my head reeling for days, and now that it’s over, I’m still trying to come back down to earth. There is something about the historical significance present at an event like this one that really makes a person feel like only a small part of the grand scheme. Everything moves at 1000 miles per hour, and you’re stuck in the middle just trying to keep up. While the events really begin earlier in the week, it isn’t until Friday that the party really begins. Read the full story after our gallery below. Click on any image to view a larger version. To return to the post click the “X” in the top left corner.
People start arriving, cars are shuffled about, and parking becomes much more difficult to find. Automotive activities are everywhere you look from concours to swap meets, from vintage racing to auctions, and literally everything in between. For one week per year, it is the haven for all things vintage and automotive. From Pebble Beach to Laguna Seca, the peninsula is packed with stuff to do for the automotive enthusiast.
We started our tour bright and early last Friday morning, heading out to the “Legends of the Autobahn” event, held at Rancho Cañada golf club for the fifth year. The event, hosted by the Porsche Club of America, the BMW Car Club of America, the Mercedes Benz Club of America, and the Audi Club North America, showcased a number of excellent German cars over the years from race cars to road cars, spanning all generations. Porsche was represented with everything from a Paris-Dakar racer to a gorgeous 959, as well as a pair of home made 993 Speedsters, well known on on the Rennlist forums. There was a wonderfully complete cross section of Porsche history on display.
From there, we ventured out to Laguna Seca for a full day of paddock wandering, people watching, and race car pondering. There were no full on races going that day, but there was plenty of on track action with practice sessions and qualifying heats for nearly all classes. On Friday near the end of the day, Porsche toted out four special racers from the museum; the Le Mans winning GT1-98, the “baby” 935, Moby Dick, and the last 935 produced. All four went around the track for a few exhibition laps.
In vintage racing, more than any other form of racing, it is the cars that are the stars. In most forms of professional motor racing, the drivers are the ones who receive the following. Sure, in sports cars, there are fans who will follow a certain make, but it is the drivers that eventually seep into your consciousness. I have been a fan of Allan McNish since his 1998 victory with Porsche at Le Mans, but I continue to support his efforts, even now that he will be competing against Porsche next year in the Audis. Vintage racing, however, has none of this.
Vintage racing, to the spectators, is more akin to a very quickly moving and very loud car show than a motorsport event. To the competitors, surely some of them at least, the racing is as exciting as or more so than anything modern professional racing has to offer. Either way, the rumble and buzz of the engines, the historic environment, and the eclectic mix of automotive competitors combine to provide an altogether unique experience. I was not fortunate enough to have been alive in the 1960s to witness Porsche’s fiberglass flyers, and I was never able to hear the roar of a 2.0 liter 910 at full chat, or the rev-happiness of the Fuhrmann four-cam engine in a 550 Spyder. With the glory that is a vintage event, you get the opportunities that you never had. Even if you did experience these cars when they were new, you can relive your youth by pressing your face to the fence as they scream past.
Friday night concluded with a trip to the RM Auctions event in downtown Monterey. Luckily, the auction was held across the street from where we were staying, so a quick trip to the hotel to freshen up before the auction was definitely in order after a long and dusty day at the track. Friday’s RM offerings included the 959 Vorserie which sold well, the 934 1/2 which went for a little less than pre-auction estimates, and a handful of 911s and 356s that didn’t particularly blow our socks off with their pricing. There were some staggering numbers, with multiple cars in the millions, unfortunately none of them Porsche.
Another early morning had us getting to Laguna Seca around 7 to see the gates open. Attending the photo meeting and grabbing a photographers vest, a quick trip out to the hairpin was in order. Saturday’s morning warm ups and afternoon races were especially interesting, with many 356 based specials, a few early fiberglass racers, and a number of 934s and 935s were interspersed among the Trans Am group and others. On Friday exhaustion was too heavy to make the trek up to the corkscrew, so Saturday afternoon marked the first time we had ever laid eyes on that famed corner. Other highlights of the day included a trip to vendor row to visit with artist and Porsche enthusiast, Nicolas Hunziker, where business was absolutely booming. While it would have been easy to kickstart our decent into bankruptcy by carrying wheelbarrow loads of memorabilia home with us, we refrained from doing so, probably wisely.
Another long day at the track turned into another star studded night at the auction houses. A trip down to Pebble Beach for the Gooding and Co. auction proved decidedly fruitful. We knew going in that Mr. Magnus Walker’s now famous ‘STR II’ would be going up for sale at around 9PM, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare. We watched as a beautiful 904 GTS and an equally well prepared 356 Carrera Speedster both crested the one million dollar mark, and an astonishing $165,000 was reached for a comparatively pedestrian 1962 Super 90 Cabriolet. STR II went for well above the pre-auction estimates, as we reported earlier, and Magnus was absolutely beaming. A quick round of congratulations and hand shaking, and we were back on the road, heading to RM to catch the end of their sales. We were most interested in catching the sale of the Dyson 962, and walked into the room just as it was being rolled on stage. Unfortunately, we didn’t witness history, but instead a no-sale with a high bid of $650,000. A 2.7 RS crossed a few lots later, again a no-sale at $430,000. After that, it was evident that it was time to leave.
Sunday began with a strangely serene foggy morning on Pebble Beach for the concours. Arriving early with plenty of time before things really got hopping, we had a great opportunity to see everything before the crowds really started rolling in. Some of the worlds best prepared cars congregated on the green leading up to the 18th hole, and this year, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 911, competition and road going 911s were invited to compete. Among the 911s on the lawn, the 901 prototype “Barbarossa”, the 901 Cabriolet prototype, the 1979 Le Mans overall winner, and a pair of 911R were in attendance. We felt a little out of place and underdressed, wearing simple “business casual” attire, well outclassed by the myriad of red pants, gingham, tartan, and seersucker donned gentlemen walking the lawns. Absolutely flabbergasted by the quality of the cars displayed, we left with longing in our hearts.
Heading out to Laguna Seca for the final time of the weekend, Sunday afternoon held some of the best on track action anyone could ask for. One group in particular had four 956/962 variants in Rothmans, Jagermeister, Leyton House, and Lowenbrau liveries. Another hike up to the Corkscrew, and a few trips through the paddock area left us properly sunburned, muscle sore, and absolutely exhausted. Ending the day with the Weissach cup specifically for 911 racers was the perfect cap on a perfect weekend. A whole lot of fun was had by all, and we got to see and experience some of the vehicles that we couldn’t experience in their day. We will definitely be back next year, and you can bet we’ll bring some seersucker and sunscreen.
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