Friday afternoon during Monterey Car Week is The Quail. Even its full title of “The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering” does little more to define it, though the fact that the number of highly-coveted $650 tickets normally sold was reduced this year due to COVID-19 helps to further refine one of the most exclusive automotive lifestyle events on Planet Earth.
The attendees of The Quail are a distillation of the automotive world’s most successful collectors, constructors, industry leaders, motorsport legends, celebrities and connoisseurs, and the very essence of the audience that attends the much larger Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Friday saw the 18th running at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley, California, and if you take a look around the automotive media’s coverage of this year’s event, there seems to be a focus on the just how exclusive the audience is at The Quail.
The Quail is invariably the stage upon which most of the world’s most prestigious marques show their finest wares for the first time. This year we saw a bumper crop of new models, with our first look at major models from Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Rimac Automobili, Lotus Cars, Pagani Automobili, Automobili Pininfarina, Gateway Bronco, Lamborghini, Hennessey, Acura, Bugatti, Bussink, Lucidair, Project Sandbox, Smit Automotive Engineering and Speedkore.
So important has The Quail become that it would be easy to think of it as a new hypercar showroom, when in fact it is a celebration of automotive excellence focussed far more on the past than the present and near future.
Here’s a quick rundown on what we came across this year, from the first reveals, to the most timeless of classics.
A very special Spezial Roadster
A Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster is one of the world’s greatest cars. It is a brutally fast, handcrafted, hulking art deco sculpture on wheels designed to seat two comfortably at 100 mph on Germany’s autobahn network of the 1930s. The 500 K Special Roadster was one of a half dozen variants using the Merces-Benz 5.0 liter straight eight with Kompressor (supercharger) introduced in 1934, and in 1936 it was lightened and upgraded to 5.4 liters to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Carl Benz’s 1886 Autowagon, which kicked off the automobile industry. Only twenty-nine 500 K and twenty-five 540 K Special Roadsters were made, they were frightfully expensive, very few have survived and they are even more frightfully expensive now. The record price for a Spezial Roadster is $11,770,000, set in 2012 at Pebble Beach when the 540 K Special Roadster of Baroness Gisela von Krieger of Prussia became the fourth most valuable car ever sold at that time.
The 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that was awarded the Rolex Circle of Champions Best of Show at this year’s Quail is very similar to that of the beautiful Baroness, only it is restored to absolute perfection, having been acquired by K. Heinz Keller in 1986 from a private owner in Colorado, and the vehicle then underwent an eight-year ground-up restoration. If this car were to go to auction today, it would probably fetch more than double the current record.
We’ve included more than a dozen detail images of the car in the image gallery because it really is astonishingly beautiful and has been subjected to such an extraordinarily detailed restoration. For those who do not know how The Quail concours is judged, the class winners are elected by the judges, and then the owners of the class winners judge the Best in Show. Just as the audience at the Quail is pre-qualified, so too are the judges as the more than 200 entrants in the concours are by invitation to begin with.
The vehicle was chosen by the owners of the best of the best, for its design, engineering, sophistication and presentation.
Audi shape-shifting Skysphere roadster
While the all-new Countach LPI 800-4 debut will undoubtedly garner more column inches and eyeballs than Audi’s skysphere, the skysphere is perhaps already the most significant new automotive concept of the year. A few inches of difference in the wheelbase of an automobile makes a massive amount of difference to driveability and stability and steering and … the Audi’s variable wheelbase is something that automotive engineers have been dreaming about since Gottleib Daimler was in his prime. There are a half dozen images of the skysphere on the lawns at The Quail in the image gallery and a feature article from Chris Weiss.
The coolest car of the seventies and eighties becomes the coolest car of 2021
If you were older than five in 1971, the chances are that the Lamborghini Countach made an impression on you. Even those with no interest in things automotive were aware of the angular phenomena that emanated from the Geneva Motor Show that year. It was the poster car of the 1970s and as the Countach evolved to the final 1985 LP5000 QV, it captured the imagination and aspiration of successive generations.
Reusing a name as powerful as the Lamborghini Countach is a significant step for the marque, as it ensures everyone will revisit the new car that wears it and reevaluate their relationship with it. The all-new Countach LPI 800-4 that debuted at The Quail is a reimagined Countach, with modernized styling and a supercapacitor-driven V12 hybrid four-wheel drive. The coolest car of 1971 and 1985 has become the coolest car of 2021. Full story here.
Jurassic Park for cars: Bentley’s cloned 92-year old Blower
Continuation cars have become all the rage recently, but the Bentley Blower Continuation series is a milestone because it is the first continuation series of a car built prior to WW2. Hence the “Car Zero” on display at The Quail is really a relic that has been recreated by Bentley Mulliner by laser scanning an entire car then recreating all of the composite parts from scratch.
“Car Zero” is the first prototype and is the culmination of 40,000 person-hours and contains 2,000 individually designed and hand-crafted parts, all reverse-engineered from Bentley’s own 1929 4½-liter “blower” raced by Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin. Sadly, after all that, just 12 customer cars, all pre-sold and personally specified, will follow at a base price of $2.1 million. Astonishingly, those cars will not be able to be used in many parts of the world because they cannot be registered for road use. The full story on this car can be found here.
The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award
The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award has become the de facto world championship for concours cars, and was entering its sixth year when the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the world in 2020. Hence, the 2020 award didn’t generate the same publicity as previous events as it was due to be announced under the worldwide spotlight of Retromobile in February 2021, which was rescheduled then subsequently cancelled thanks to the pandemic. As well as slipping through the publicity cracks somewhat, the 2020 award suffered from a smaller list of nominees due to cancellation or postponement of four partner concours events in 2020, also as a result of COVID-19.
The Best of the Best Award was nonetheless announced in February 2021 and the Grand Prize was taken out by a 1954 Ferrari 750 Monza, with coachwork by Scaglietti, which achieved the distinction both for its impressive racing history and its exacting restoration. It became eligible as a Best of the Best Award contender after winning Best of Show at the 2020 Palm Beach Cavallino Classic.
The winning 750 Monza has an extraordinary racing provenance, winning on debut at the Inaugural Grand Prix of the Imola Autodrome in June of 1954. After driver Umberto Maglioli secured first place for Scuderia Ferrari with the car, it was subsequently fitted with a 3-liter engine and went on to compete in several other major races that year, including the Monsanto Grand Prix (where it won), and Nassau Race Week, where it was driven by its original owner, Alfonso de Portago, and secured a 1st and two 2nd places.
The car’s next owner, Sterling Edwards, raced the 750 Monza over the next two years mainly in California, including the Pebble Beach Road Races (an event he founded) in 1955 and 1956, garnering four 1st-place and two first-in-class wins in the car. After the tragic death of his friend Ernie McAfee prompted Edwards to stop racing altogether, he sold the car to his engineer Bob Whitmer, who replaced its engine with a Chevy V8 and continued to successfully race it through the early 1960s.
The car spent most of the ensuing 50 years disassembled, though its chassis, body, engine, and gearbox were all carefully preserved in a small San Francisco-area warehouse. In 2016, a complete restoration of the car was initiated under the direction of Bob Smith Coachworks, located in Gainesville, Texas, a process that took new owners Tom and Jill Peck of southern California over two years to complete.
The final 350-only, limited-edition 600 hp version of the Acura (Honda) NSX
Five years after the second coming of the Acura NSX, Honda showed the final iteration of the mid-engined hybrid supercar, using new fuel injectors, intercoolers and turbochargers to squeeze out an extra 27 hp and 37 lb-ft of torque from the car’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, making it the most powerful NSX yet with 600 hp and 492 lb-ft of torque. Just 350 of the new Type S will be built, of which 300 will be coming to the United States for a new MSRP of $171,495.
One-off Bugatti Bolide becomes Limited Edition Super-Dooper Car
When Bugatti presented its Bolide technological concept in late 2020, it was a one-off 1824 horsepower experimental vehicle. At The Quail, Bugatti announced the Bolide would be produced as a limited-edition 40-only Hyper-Super-Dooper Car.
“The Bolide generated a great deal of enthusiasm and intrigue last year. Following its presentation, a significant number of enthusiasts and collectors asked us to develop the experimental Bolide as a production vehicle,” explained Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “We therefore decided to make the Bolide a few-off in order to give 40 customers the opportunity to experience this incredible vehicle. Our team has now been developing a production model – the ultimate driving machine for the track.”
A few compromises were made so that the car could be driven in the real world, most notably an engine retune so it would run on the 98 RON petroleum you can buy at gas stations, rather than the 110-octane racing fuel the original track-only car guzzled. That dropped the horsepower to 1578 but it will still be the most extreme configuration of Bugatti’s 8.0-liter W16 engine made available to the public, and as the Bolide has an anorexic curb weight, it will have a power-to-weight ratio approaching that of an Exocet missile – 1578 horses pushing 1450 kilograms.
“We are proud to have succeeded in keeping the production vehicle so close to its technical demonstrator both visually and technically while also enhancing the design, quality, and vehicle safety,” said Winkelmann.
The Bolide will be further refined to production maturity over the next three years, with delivery scheduled for 2024 at €4,000,000 (US$5,700,000).
The fastest car on Earth?
This year sees the 30th anniversary of the American supercar brand, Hennessey, and the company’s aim as been to build the absolute fastest road car on Earth to commemorate three decades in the business. That car is the Venom F5, with the first built F5 first shown in Amelia Island earlier this year. The F5 made its Monterey Car Week debut at the 30th Anniversary McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center on Wednesday night (11 August 2021) and was presented at The Quail alongside a second-built Gold F5.
The F5 is powered by a rear-mid-mounted 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 1,817 hp at 8,000 rpm. The F5 weighs 1,360 kg which translates to a power-to-weight ratio of 1.34 hp/kg, which is well in excess of any road car on sale today. The F5 aims to exceed 500 kph (311mph) on a two-way validated speed run using a production specification car.
The “Spirit of The Quail”
Its story is truly remarkable. It was purchased new in 1902 by W.B. Twiss and was his daily transport when he was a student at first Dartmouth and then Harvard. In 1909 he was appointed to the staff at Rutgers University and the bike was crated up and sent to New Jersey. Before it was uncrated, Twiss realized that riding a motorcycle would be frowned upon, so the crate was left in the basement. It was removed from the basement and the crate in 2020, some 111 years after it was entombed, and has been treated to a conservation restoration. It is just the 14th Indian motorcycle ever built, and the oldest known original, unrestored, running American Production motorcycle in existence. More pics in the image gallery.
Marc Phillip Gemballa’s Martien aka Project Sandbox
High performance sports car fans will recognize the name Gemballa from yesteryear. This is a car by Marc Phillip Gemballa named the Martien. Marc is Uwe Gemballa’s son and he has decided to follow in pop’s footsteps and start a business hotting-up supercars. Marc, now 27 years old, was just 16 when his father was murdered in South Africa in a gangland-style execution investigators suspect could have been linked to a money laundering operation. His first car is an “adventure sports” take on the Porsche 911 with a distinctly 959 flavor and a 750-horsepower Porsche engine built by RUF. Full story.
Rimac goes from strength to strength
Rimac just keeps on making news, firstly for taking over Bugatti, then for bringing its €2-million electric Nevera hypercar to market … and while it was showing the Nevera at The Quail, the news broke that the Nevera has cracked the nine second mark for the Quarter Mile. Apart from being the quickest production car in the world, the comes chock full of the latest tech, including AI-powered driver-performance assistance, steer-by-wire and second-gen torque vectoring. All the key performance numbers can be seen on the wall behind the Never. The full story can be found here.
One of just two Fiat Eden Rocs ever built
This Fiat Eden Roc had its beginnings in the mid-1950s, when FIAT boss Gianni Agnelli envisioned a stylish transporter to move his guests from his Nice estate’s main house down to the shore. He commissioned Pinin Farina to design this vehicle atop a stretched and widened Fiat Multipla chassis and the car was shown at the 1956 Paris Motor Show where Union Oil Chairman William Doheny commissioned another. Rumors of a third example built for Henry Ford II had not previously been verified, but this car was apparently once owned by Ford according to the accompanying placard. The car’s design is quite unique, with its forward-control driving position, open-air coachwork, lack of doors, low-set windshield and wraparound rear seat built of curved teakwood slats.
A 500 whp $200,000 Mini Cooper
If you’ve been watching Netflix’ Fastest Cars, you’ll recognize the Super Cooper from Season 2, Episode 4. Super Cooper takes any classic Mini from the 1960s and modernists it, from a lot (think $95,000 + for a finished car) to a Super Cooper Type S with a 500 whp rear-mounted Acura V6 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, a 0-60 mph time under 4 seconds, a 10 second quarter mile time and a $200,000 price. Breathing new life into a much loved Classic, we suspect that now they’ve embarked on getting some publicity, they’ll need new and much larger premises before long. Bravo Super Coopers.
The Bussink GT R Speedlegend
The Quail attracts the most unique and highly desirable cars on the planet and the Bussink GT R Speedlegend definitely fits that class. Mercedes-Benz reprised the ballistic speedster segment back in 2009 when it built the SLR Stirling Moss. Since then Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Pagani have all trotted out entrants in the category and fans of the three-pointed star have been missing out … until now.
The Bussink GT R Speedlegend starts with the very expensive and limited edition Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster and then adds lightness … and horsepower. The result is a five-only hyper roadster with 850 ps and lots of carbon and a distinctly F1 feel. The reason there’s a helmet there is that the driver will need it, as will the passenger, unless they wish to sandblast their eyeballs … there’s no windscreen worth mentioning. The price is not known but we’re expecting six figures near seven figures.
This motorcycle has averaged 5 miles a year for 60 years
The Quail offers some quite remarkable sights and this motorcycle is one of them. It is a 1962 Honda CB92R, a twin-cylinder SOHC 125cc with outstanding performance for its time. This bike is fitted with the racing equipment that could be purchased direct from Honda for the bike, including a megaphone exhaust system and racing camshaft. Even more remarkable is that the bike is now 59 years old, and is original and unrestored except for the inner tube on the rear tire. Owned by Allen Siekman of California, the bike has traveled just 338 miles. A genuine time-warp motorcycle.
Metallica’s James Hetfield shows his reclaimed rust
James Hetfield is best known as the front man for heavy metal band Metallica. He is ranked highly as a vocalist and guitar player, regularly making music media lists of the Greatest of All Time in both categories. Like so many famous rock musicians, he’s also an automotive tragic, though that’s where Hetfield really shows his individuality. Hetfield doesn’t just drive cars, he builds, or perhaps more appropriately, he sculpts them.
METALLICA’S JAMES HETFIELD’S | CAR COLLECTION
Right now there’s an exhibition of ten of Hetfield’s builds at the Petersen Automotive Museum entitled Reclaimed Rust: The James Hetfield Collection. Aquarius was one of five of Hetfield’s cars on show at The Quail.
Historic French Brand Delage returns with a 1,100-horsepower, $2.3-million tandem hypercar
The historic French brand Delage made a return to the mainstream at The Quail with one of the most extreme hypercar designs ever. The new $2.3 million Delage D12 is squarely focused on the Nurburgring lap record with its 7.6-liter, naturally aspirated 1,100 horsepower V12. The D12 is a wasp-waisted monster whose dart-shaped cabin is so separated from the front wheels that it might as well be an open-wheeler. Its colossal mid-mounted V12, developed in-house, will put power down through an eight-speed single-clutch transmission with an electric motor built in to form a hybrid system.
The $1.9 million Bentley Mulliner Bacalar
The $1.9 million Bentley Mulliner Bacalar will become the rarest two-door Bentley of the modern era. Just 12 will be built to launch a new Bentley Mulliner operation, aiming to highlight the heritage and capabilities of the world’s oldest coachbuilder. With an illustrious coachbuilding history that can be traced back to the 1500s, Mulliner now offers offer three different portfolios to customers: Classic, Collections and Coachbuilt. Read more about Mulliner here.
“Big Oly” takes out yet another win
Phillip Sarofim has been an automotive enthusiast for a long time, and being the son of billionaire fund manager Fayez Sarofim has enabled him to indulge his passion at the highest level. He first made mention in this publication when he steered his one-only Stratos Zero into the prize-winning ceremony at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2018. When the unconventional front-opening door was raised, sitting beside him was his latest girlfriend, Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne.
Sarofim purchased Parnelli Jones’ legendary Baja-winning “Big Oly” Bronco sold for $1.87 million at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction earlier this year, and at that price he also became the owner of the world’s most expensive truck. Though Parnelli Jones is known for his exploits in Indy and sports car racing, it is in off-road racing where he effectively pioneered a sport, winning the 1971 Baja 1000, 1972 Baja 1000, 1973 Baja 500 and 1973 Mint 400 in “Big Oly”, the world’s most famous Ford Bronco. The truck is a celebration of the sport of off-road racing and the unique design required for success in that arena as much as it is of Parnelli Jones, and it was hence appropriate that the truck’s new owner is also the new owner of the equally ground-breaking Meyers Manx Company.
The Meyers Manx Company was resurrected in 2000 to create new vehicles inspired by the original Manx buggy and the entire operation has been purchased by Sarofim, who intends to take the wonderful brand foundations and grow them into a worldwide leisure brand.
The Speedkore Hellraiser
This is comedian Kevin Hart’s Speedkore HellRaiser and that is no misnomer. Take a close look at that classic 50-year-old Dodge Charger shape and you’ll see the body has been replaced with a carbon fiber version, and everything else has been replaced too. The 1,000-horsepower supercharged Hemi crate engine drives through an eight-speed transmission and the suspension has also been built for precision and performance. We didn’t get a price but … if you have to ask ….
Pininfarina Battista Anniversario
The Pininfarina Battista Anniversario is a limited-edition electric hyper car which will cost $2.9 million, produces 1874 hp and 1696 lb-ft of torque, has a top speed of 217 mph and only five will be built.