September 22, 2012
Danville Conours d'Elegance
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my first Concours d'Elegance last sunday, and it was an experience like no other. Unfortunately due to timing, I was not able to upload the photos until now because I was travelling back to SoCal and moving into my new apartment. But patience is a virtue, and I do believe what I have to share was well worth the wait.
Concours events are a series of upscale automotive shows where one may see the rare, exquisite, and highly expensive cars most of us only see in our dreams. To be in the midst of such prized vehicles was incredible. The variety and quality was absolutely superb, I would expect nothing less. It was no surprise to see cars from Fisker and other automakers that leave enthusiasts in awe.
You likely recognize the Karmas in the previous image because of their popularity, but few know of previous Fisker creations, such as the Latigo shown here. It is a custom build developed from a BMW M6 platform with a 650hp V10 engine, this particular car is #001.
If you're an avid Top Gear U.K. fan, chances are you know what this is. The Ariel Atom is one of the fastest and lightest four-wheeled vehicles on the market, it is built specifically for speed and precision handling, hence the bare bones design. It has the potential to take your face off at top speed, as demonstrated by our dear Jeremy Clarkson in a segment from the show.
The Audi R8 V10 has been of great interest to me lately. I was lucky enough to see one in my neighborhood over the summer and now I've come across it once again. I prefer this one because of the striking red, most R8's are silver or gunmental gray.
The rear-mounted mid engine is snugly nestled within its carbon fiber bed, a design also used by Mclaren on the MP4-12C to help with balance and breathability.
To its right, the lovely Porsche Cayman R, a member of the Porsche family I rarely see. Ranked between the Boxster and the 911, the Cayman has 330hp and a top speed of 175mph. It's a taste of Porsche's renowned engineering without shelling out the cash for a 911.
On the other hand, I see Panameras everywhere (tuesday I was in Newport Beach and saw three within 10 minutes). Although many originally thought the Panamera would be a flop, their popularity is exploding. That may be due to the fact the sportier models are surprisingly quick for their size. The GTS model has 430hp with a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds, not bad.
The Mercedes 300SL is a legendary classic, the first car to feature gullwing doors, which now grace the body of the SLS, a tribute to the car here. Sadly, this model is a convertible, and therefore lacks the famous doors, but it is no less beautiful than its winged counterpart. It also has a set of custom red leather luggage that fits in the trunk. That's keeping it classy.
Lamborghini fans would've been a little disappointed in the lineup of bulls on display. Only Gallardos & Diablos of various years attended. Even still, they were a very nice collection. I do wish I could've seen a Murcielago though (I wouldn't dare hope for the Aventador).
Godzilla was present as well, and despite being outnumbered by the creme de la creme from Britain and Italy, it was quite an attention grabber. A gentleman I spoke with about it commented he wasn't necessarily a fan of its design, but he had the utmost respect for its abilities. The GT-R's sprint from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and mind blowing launch control makes it a serious threat to European machines of the same caliber.
I've seen a handful of Jaguar E-Types, but all of them were topless, I've never seen one like this before. The roof adds a little more curvature to the overall body. It was said this car was once owned by Elvis Presley himself. Funny, I took him for more of a pink Cadillac kind of guy.
McLaren of San Francisco was generous enough to provide one of their MP4-12C's for this event and I was thrilled to see it. Mclaren's new supercar is a finely balanced creation when it comes to combining performance with comfort and aesthetics. It may very well be one of the greatest supercars of all time, but it's still no F1.
Generally, BMW's don't interest me much, but there are a few models I think are absolutely gorgeous. The Z8 is one of them. It has typical European styling cues that give it an air of sophistication and a classic feel. It's one of the most attractive cars created by Bavarian Motor Works.
There was an entire row of 911's, but I overlooked them all (shame on me), save for this single Carrera, which caught my eye because it was toting a red and gray bicycle that matched its paint. Can't say I recall ever seeing a Porsche owner do this before, but I approve.
In my opinion, Astons are one of few cars that can really pull off muted colors. This Vantage looks superb in this soft shade of green. It would also look dashing in slate blue or a champagne color.
My jaw dropped when I laid eyes on the DB5, to me, it's one of the most beautiful cars in the world. It was Mr. Bond's vehicle of choice in 007 films Goldfinger, Thunderball & GoldenEye. The iconic British luxury car will also be making an appearance in the latest film Skyfall, which comes out this November.
Aston Martin has no equal when it comes to my top automaker, but Ferrari leaves me swooning over the 458. Historically, Ferrari's cars have been all about performance, they weren't necessarily what I call attractive, but the 458 is deadly when it comes to looks, be it the Spider...
...or the Italia. It oozes with a lustful appeal, especially when it wears red.
I've also developed a fondness of the FF, the four wheel drive shooting brake design Ferrari released last year. It's a first for the company, but I'd say it is very well done. It looks fast standing still.
Two Maserati GranTurismos sat nearby, the first a Sport model in dark blue. The first thing I noticed about it was the incredibly strong smell of its leather interior, a scent so rich and so sweet it perfumed the air up to ten feet away. The fragrance only added to its devilish allure. I was so mesmerized it was quite some time before I could bring myself to leave it.
The second GranTurismo was a stripped down racing version. The entire interior had been gutted to reduce weight and make room for a full roll cage. All that was left in the cabin was a racing seat, the steering wheel, and the fancy buttons required for racing such a machine. A fire extinguisher was tucked in the back for safety reasons.
After these next few images, you might be sick of Ferraris for awhile, but I think you'll live. The Italian stallions outnumbered everything else, and they were looking fierce.
Let's begin with the 360 Modena Spider. My favorite thing about this car is the paint, it's such a dark shade of blue it's almost black (the exact same color I plan to have on my Aston Martin someday). Even though the 360 precedes the F430 & new 458, it still looks incredible.
As miraculous as the paint was on it, I couldn't help but take this photo, I like seeing my reflection on pretty cars (which is so totally not vain at all you guys).
Next is the F430 Scuderia. This is the very first time I've seen the Scuderia version of the F430. It is lighter and more powerful than the base model and features a semi-automatic transmission (which sounds like a deadly weapon) as well as a reduced power to weight ratio.
The improvements create an even more devastating prancing horse to compete with RS model Porsches and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. The name Scuderia means "stable of horses," and from where I'm standing, they look ready to stampede right out the back of this thing.
Lastly, the California. While I do find it pretty cool it was named after my home state, I'm not that crazy about it otherwise. The California is not nearly as intense as the other cars, it's more along the lines of cute. I assume Ferrari made it to appeal to a different audience, but I'm not a member of it.
Remember the Iso Griffo A3/L from Blackhawk? Here it is again. I was able to get a much better look at it this time since it was out in the open. It's even more gorgeous in the sunlight.
There were several Cobras but this is the only one I photographed, I think the reason is rather obvious. I always admire owners who find that extra flare to make an extraordinary car stand out even more.
The next few photos I have are of some incredible racing machines that are as fast as they are insane-looking. Pictured above is the 2010 Chevrolet Streamliner, a salt flat racer that holds the land speed record at 334.260mph. Its missile-shaped body reduces drag and wind resistance on the incredible scale required to reach such blistering speeds.
Now this is something I've never seen before at any event I've been to. What you're looking at is the GTR by Ultima Cars Ltd. It's a mid-engine rear wheel drive kit car. Owners have freedom to choose between different engines of various sizes, this particular specimen is fitted with a V12. Ultima's main goal in producing the GTR was a car that could break records, and it does. In this speed demon, 0-60mph is dealt with in just 2.6 seconds, 0-100 in 5.3 seconds, a 1/4 mile devoured in 9.9 seconds.
I thought the GTR was bonkers, but this takes the cake. The 1969 Lola 163 Can Am is another speedy creation, currently holding the fastest lap time at Road America. It was driven by race car driver Peter Gregg.
The last racer I have is the 1982 March 82G. Research on this vehicle revealed it is an English made racecar that has a strong racing history with impressive performances in Le Mans. The 82G was at the height of its game during the early 1980's, an exciting time for racing of all kinds. It's not surprising when you look at it, I bet it eats up a track.
Last but certainly not least, a 1954 Bentley R Type. No information was available on this vehicle, so I did a little outside research. It was a popular post World War II automobile for the domestic market, and shared similarities with the Rolls Royce Silver Dawn produced around the same time. It was available as a sedan (saloon) and coupe. Most were black, this one however proudly wears British Racing Green.
That concludes my coverage of the Danville Concours d'Elegance. Never before have I been to such an exciting event with so many different high quality cars of such stunning presence and beauty. I will most definitely be attending again next year.