My Car Quest

April 23, 2019

Concorso Italiano – 2016

An All-Italian Show during Monterey Car Week

by Wallace Wyss, with support from Louis Vandenberg, KUCR “Autotalk” show

OK you can talk about the fancy-dancy car shows during Car Week, the Pebbles, the Quails but let’s get down to one almost all of us can afford—Concours Italiano.

This event started out decades ago with Janet and Frank Mandarano and the Maserati Club but then slowly, incrementally, added other Italian brands.

Thankfully they added Iso early on and that paved the way for their present status as superstars (especially the Bizzarrinis, built on an Iso design). They also welcomed Panteras, which is one reason it has grown, some other concours discriminating against exotic cars with American engines.

Alfa Romeo

This Sprint Speciale was one of several. It has really emerged as one of the great Alfas in terms of styling. There was also a low nose, much more exotic, and more valuable. The early low noses were aluminum bodied.

This event is one event during Monterey Car Week that is always highly anticipated by Italian car owners. You don’t go there expecting to see a legion of early ‘50s and ‘60s classics because it’s mostly more contemporary Italian cars of the last two decades. Still we found a Ferrari TdF, a Lusso, an unidentified roadster race car, and we’re glad that the owners of the mega-expensive cars don’t stay out of the Concorso because they will be parked cheek-by-jowl with more mass market cars.

The philosophy of Concorso Italiano is to be “every man’s car show”, a show in which the average Italian car owner can enter and even hope of a class win.

The show takes place at the Black Horse Golf course which is in the middle of what used to be Ft. Ord military base.

Individuals can enter their car without being a member of a club so even if you are, for instance, owning an Iso and parked with other Isos, you wouldn’t have to be a member of the IBOC to be nominated for a class win.

I think that’s a plus because that will tempt some newcomer who has been hiding his car for years out onto the playing field and we can all feast our eyes on a new “barn find.”

They also don’t mind a “survivor” car, a restoration still not completed. In fact those are very exciting because we get to see a car “in the raw” (doesn’t that sound salacious!)

In each class there is a nomination of the best car among their group to go up on “stage” (actually a center aisle flanked by a grandstand on both sides.)

Fiat

A gray market Fiat. makes sense to me. An attention getter and parts still available.

There the class winners are interviewed by the very practiced emcee Keith Martin (publisher of Sports Car Market). Early in the day they had author and ex-Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, who also boasts dulcet tones (but can’t do an on-point pirouette like ex-dancer Martin). Both are experts at extracting from often taciturn owners the real skinny on why they chose to champion the car they are driving.

Miles Kitchen, a collector in the Bay Area, also was an announcer.

Unlike Pebble, which features the crème d’la crème of the shows that week, or the Quail, equally a curated show, Concorso features cars that sold cheap such as the Fiat 850, which sold for around $2,100 new and the next step up, the Fiat 124. On the other end of the scale was a couple of La Ferraris which I think are above a million dollars. Plus Enzos and other limited edition Ferrari supercars. Some of the cars were displayed by dealers anxious to meet new potential customers.

Each marque parked alongside others of the same ilk. Ferraris were the Big Dog but the Lamborghini contingent was well represented as well. I counted at least eight Miuras (one of the marques honored at the event), and there might have been more. I was hoping to see the one and only factory targa (actually from the Bertone factory, built without Ferrucio’s co-operation). Also I didn’t see any LM002 off road cars. True they are ugly as sin, but with what other off road car can you still have the siren sound of a Lambo V12 at speed?

“I DID IT MY OWN WAY”

I guess the Sinatra song was actually entitled “My Way” but there were at Concorso a half dozen cars that well, would have made a judge at Pebble have apoplexy.

For example there was a GTC/4 displayed that had been cut into a targa, and though I am glad that the chassis can take it without cracking the windshield, that owner, in my opinion, went a bit overboard by raising the tail with a built in spoiler, and doing some fiddle with the headlights. But still I am glad it was there, if only to see what some folks like to do to their cars. Rest assured, it’s only going to take cubic money to have it redone stock but meanwhile he is enjoying one of the two or three targa GTC/4s out on the road.

PREMIERES

Now the promoter of Concorso is mindful that his event is potentially a source of news, i.e., first looks at new cars. Now he doesn’t get the cars on the “dream car” lawn at Pebble (the lawn in front of the Del Monte Lodge). But he did open the door to allow display of two cars there making their debut.

I thought of their styling as making them Ferrari competitors, but their promoters were not handing out brochures so I can’t tell you much about them but one was designed and built by Ken Okuyama who is the same Japanese designer who, while working in Italy for Pininfarina, did the incomparable Enzo and one other production car plus a prototype, the Ferrari Rossa. The first car he did on his own was a small one but I am glad he has seen we want to see something more supercar-ish from the creator of the Enzo and this car looks like it will fill the bill.

Ferrari Enzo

The Enzo, now a few years old, still holds its own compared to the more modern La Ferrari. That’s what “timeless” design means. You go Okuyama!

Concorso is to be congratulated for giving him a place in their show because us Ferrari fans wondered what happened to this worldly designer, who also ran Art Center School’s Trans Design Dept. for awhile.

The gray car I don’t have a clue to its identity. It was equally sexy, but a muted gray, perhaps not the best color for a hot new exotic car.

Another new design on display was the Disco Volante Spyder by Touring. This beautiful blue car succeeded in having the feel of the original ‘50s Alfa Discos. Probably too late to buy one–they only made seven.

Another coachbuilder who had almost died, but has come back was represented by the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept.

LAMBORGHINI

I was hoping to see a LM002 but maybe it’s in their future to be concours superstars. In those you get ugly styling but an engine that could have come right out of a Countach.

The catalog of the show, free to every ticket buyer, is really splendid (even as truth be told, I wrote some of the stories in it) and I think that’s an extra added attraction to any concours when they have a catalog you can learn from later. I especially enjoyed the story on the Mangusta which included production photos and the story on Ferraris powered at one time or another with Chevy V8s (the horror!).

BOOTHS

Booths? They had at least 30 to 40 of them, some selling exhausts, some selling books, others selling jewelry and m’lady’s clothing. I myself had my wife gainfully employed at our art and books booth in the new “art tent row” and we met many “repeat” customers from years before and new ones intent on commissioning a portrait of their car. Art prices in general were far below the $10,000 range like we saw in the AFAS booth at Pebble.

Fiat

This cut down Fiat was the type ordered by
yacht owners so they could flit about on the islands they landed on. Ghia built some of them.

I think the vendors though the operational word was “reachable” as, let’s face it, many of those there had expensive cars out there on the turf are a bit wary of being a first-time art buyer. I can see this booth segment growing as Concorso becomes a sort of mini-Pebble in every category.

One shocker was the booth ran by a business that sells wrecked sports cars, and they had two examples that had taken hard hits but were still rolling so to speak. I think it’s wonderful that they give buyers an opportunity to buy a car that “needs a little work” at a lot less than it would cost if 100% stock condition. After all if you own a body shop, such a project car will give the boys in the back room something to work on when things are slow.

There’s also a VIP Lounge, which I didn’t dare approach, not being a VIP, but I am sure it had refreshments and such available to members all day long. Many of the marque clubs also had a tent for their members to relax in, each with a guard at the door to bar freeloaders like me (fortunately they had a media tent). There were also food trucks for those who didn’t belong to a club or the VIP Lounge.

Ferrari

Some potential Pebble Beach cars were there, like
this Ferrari TdF

THE FASHION SHOW

Concorso is a celebration of the Italian life style, so it’s natural they would have a fashion show. I got a kick out of some grade schoolgirls nearby imitating the prancing of the fashion models and am going to send them a memo to show some children’s clothes next time. (Gucci-Pucci on the playground?)

THE PARKING

Unlike Pebble Beach, the Concorso has “easy parking” on a section of golf course and, though I didn’t experience the line to get in (using instead a VIP entrance) I can say it’s relaxing compared to the pressures of parking at Pebble which are akin to climbing Mt. Everest carrying a 70-lb. bag of cement.

Pricing per ticket is far less than the Quail, and Pebble so this show can be thought of as the Monterey Car Week show that’s for everyman, still justifiable for driving several hours to because this show alone has a bit of everything and I know because I went to the Quail and Pebble in addition. My radio show colleague enjoyed it even with a 6-hour trip both ways.

SUMMING UP…

The Concorso is the show you go to if you have an Italian car that’s not “Pebble material” but you still want to meet other owners and shoot the bull on what’s available for your car and what you can expect in terms of the longevity of various components. Plus it’s a chance to see how other owners have fitted out their cars and to collect memorabilia.

With the prototypes it’s also a glimpse into the future—you see what present day automakers are making and occasionally get a glimpse of what’s to come in the exotic car market. I’ll be there next year for sure…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist, specializing in exotic cars. He accepts commissions for car portraits. Write Photojournalistpro@gmail.com for prices and photos of past commissions.

Wallace Wyss

Your author with his commissioned portrait of Mark Sassak’s Bizzarrini Red Spyder (that car shown at Pebble)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

photos above by Wallace Wyss, photos in the slide show below by Mike Gulett

Summary
Concorso Italiano - 2016
Article Name
Concorso Italiano - 2016
Description
Italian cars as far as the eye can see, down in Monterey.
Author

Comments

  1. slide shows are nice, but not everyone recognizes every car. a title plate would be a good addition doncha think?

  2. Love the green Lele! Just priceless..

  3. wallace wyss says

    About the green Lele. I too was struck by the color. Now the originality mavens will say “Thou shalt not paint a car any color than what it came with” but I say Marilyn Monroe with a green dress is the same as Marilyn Monroe in a red dress. It’s still Marilyn. I say, for purposes of owning and enjoying your car, if you want to paint it the color of your wife’s eyes or whatever, you can do it. Only for concours, if you expect to win, you should return it to stock color. I have to say that I have never noticed some certain cars until I see them in a new vivid color and suddenly their beauty becomes apparent. That color made me notice the Lele (and I owned one for five days) I’m just sayin’

  4. Mike Clarke says

    The color of my Lele is Verde Gemma Metallizzato which was a Iso color as seen on Mike’s color chart posted on MCQ http://mycarquest.com/2011/05/iso-color-samples.html as number 14. The car was originally Bleu Sera Metallizzato with black vents, but this color hid all the subtle lines on the Gandini design, so I choose to find a better color to show off Gandini’s work. After seeing a Maserati Ghibli in Verde Gemma Metallizzato I knew the lele’s similar sharp lines would benefit. I researched the color for over a year seeing numerous cars painted in Verde Gemma Metallizzato but they were all a bit different. I ordered the Iso paint code and the Maserati paint code and had them sprayed only to find out that those were a bit different too! So we tried the paint on a few different primer colors and once again they both came out different than any of the past colors we had seen. I finally came to the conclusion that depending on the base color and primer color Verde Gemma Metallizzato would be a bit unique. Now what? At this point I decided to find a base paint with the correct fine flake and have samples made. ………after spraying twelve samples we selected the final color that we felt was closest to Iso’s and had some pop! The color is not everyone’s cup of tea but it makes me smile every time I walk into the garage.

    • You like it so that means it is the right choice – I like it too and have always loved green cars even though I have never owned one!

      Congratulations on an excellent restoration! I have many more photos of your Lele that will likely show up here in the future.

    • Raymond Zinn says

      You’re gonna love this………
      My Saturn Ion QC is the same color, or about as close as the picture shows………

  5. My red Jarama, (seen in a couple pictures in the photo gallery) was originally green, painted red in the 80’s and I couldn’t care less about the originality compromise. I like the color.

    What I do care about is usability. Get the car to start, to run cool, to stay in tune to some degree. A 45 year old V-12 with six carburetors will never match the reliability of a modern car but it can be made to work without gross compromises. I drove the car 800 miles during car week without a major hitch.

    Next year the car will be a tiny bit less original. It will have modern cooling fans. It will have electronic ignition. It will have relays on some circuits that don’t currently. It will also be a way more usable/reliable car.

    • John,

      I agree with your philosophy.

    • Can I suggest looking into Evans waterless coolant, I run it in all sports cars it a new product that won’t boil until 325 degrees. You only purchase it once for the life of the engine and it takes the stress off the radiator and driver. No more worries on boiling over. It’s not a gimmick it works especially well on older cars that run hot.

      • Thanks I know of Evans. In my car anyway there were were a host of problems, the usual accumulation of neglect and sloppy repairs over the years, inoperative temperature switches, inoperative fans (one literally rotating backwards!), a leaking water pump, incorrect ignition timing, stuck thermostat etc. With all these corrected, the car maintains reasonable operating temperature. Evans will be the final insurance after I change to modern, high performance fans.

  6. Is that Lele for sale? What does a nice Lele sell for?

    That is a good looking car!

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