Italian cars are the stars in the USA

1Ferrari winning hasn’t been heard much of late, Lancia winning is something we havent heard since the heyday of the Delta Integrale in rallying. This double win however is slightly different.

Across the water in the USA it has been a busy week for show cars, first up was the the Quail, the all-day affair, which organizers describe as “a very grand garden party” that happens to also include 250 classic cars and a Concours-style competition, took place at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club, one of the Monterey Peninsula’s most exclusive resorts.

Around 4,500 guests paid £300 each to wander the Quail greens and fairways, decorated with beautifully restored cars and motorcycles and featuring tents and stands serving exotic cuisine and pouring expensive wines and Champagnes.

Unlike other Concours, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winners at the Quail are chosen by participants. Each of the exhibiting owners votes on vehicles outside his or her class, and all vote for Best of Show.

2It was a 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Pinin Farina Spider taking top honours, winning Best of Show honors at the 14th annual meeting.

Every year, The Rolex Circle of Champions winners are selected by the same collectors entering their vehicles into the competition. All participants subjectively choose the automobile that has achieved its design goal, performance expectations and overall impact on automotive history in its class.

The Ferrari 375 MM Pinin Farina Spyder, owned by Andreas Mohringer, this car is the only unrestored racing Ferrari 375 MM PF Spyder existing out of nine cars, with an extensive United States racing history.

6This 375 is one of the finest sports cars of its time produced by Ferrari in 1953 and 1954. A purposeful built spartan race car with a tidy cockpit, having only two vinyl bolstered seats, big wood-rimmed steering wheel and Brooklands-style windscreen. The Ferrari only two readable gauges showing the engine revs to 8000 rpm and the road speed up to 300 kph.

Like many Ferrari’s at the time, the name 375 was derived from its per-cylinder displacement of 375 cm3 in the 4.5 Liter V12. As was the case of the Enzo racing car’s dating from the 50s it was powered by a V12. This particular car received an engine from the newly employed Aurelio Lampredi as the company’s marquee new engine designer.

Enzo Ferrari trusted Pinin Farina for the styling of the 375 MM and it’s simply beautiful. This Ferrari is perhaps extra special, having only raced in the United States, starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring spring 1954. It was pre-sold to the semi-pro driver Bill Spear as chassis number 0382 AM and shipped from the factory to Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York City.  It arrived on New Year’s Eve to be delivered to Spear in early January. It’s a little-known fact that the Ferrari factory number was changed three times before leaving the factory.

Whilst Ferrari won at Quail it was a different marque taking the honours at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance automobile exhibition.

Over 200 classic, vintage and antique cars paraded at dawn across the deep green 18th fairway at the famed Monterey Peninsula golf course, which for more than 60 years has been the site of what has become the world’s most prestigious automobile concours.

3Winning best of show was the restored pre-war Italian sports car once owned by musician Eric Clapton, a 1936 Lancia Astura Cabriolet

Musician Clapton once described as “the most fun I’ve had offstage and out of bed”, now owned by Richard Mattei of Paradise Valley, Ariz, he thanked the vast team that helped restore the car. Mattei, an avid Alfa Romeo collector, who commissioned a six-year restoration of the car. Back in 1962, the car was found in England in poor condition, which is when Pininfarina decided to restore it based on its exclusivity. It was later sold to Eric Clapton before finally put on display in the Pininfarina museum.

4“This Lancia is a true combination of speed and style,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “Pinin Farina took a fantastic car and added many spectacular attributes, including a power top, curved side glass windows and the unusual basket-woven trim. This car is sport and luxury embodied.”

Mattei’s Lancia was also named the Gwenn Graham Most Elegant

The all-day affair attracts the world’s most ardent car collectors and historians, as well as a well-heeled crowd of auto enthusiasts, amateurs and celebrities including Formula One racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart, hitting the 18thfairway early in the day, wearing tartan green trousers and a matching tartan green cap.

“It’s going to be a fine day,” he said, surveying the foggy coastal clouds. It was just like his native Scotland, he said, “except in Scotland it’s wet all day long, of course.”

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