Latin metal takes over Monterey

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Concorso Italiano, California's annual celebration of all things red, white and green, drew a fantastic array of machinery of all shapes and sizes to the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch today.

The modern supercar contingent continues to grow at this huge event, but there were still some mouth-watering rarities to keep the crowds interested, such as the beautiful 1953 Siata Daina of Cheryl and Thomas Creedon (above).

Perhaps the most impressive display, however, was put on to mark the 50th anniversary of the Intermeccanica-built Apollo. Not the biggest turnout by any means, but the 18 cars represented a fifth of total production and is thought to be the largest-ever gathering of the marque.

The original prototype was present (above), along with creator Milt Brown, designer Ron Plescia and sales manager George Finlay - who still owns a rare convertible. But drawing the most attention was John Barron's mint yellow 5000GT, the 'Thorndyke Special' as driven by David Tomlinson's villain in the Herbie movie The Love Bug.

"I've wanted one since I read about them in the ’60s," said Barron. "Max Balchowski staged the race scenes and prepped the cars for filming. There are several modifications to the chassis and suspension. I was looking at a convertible but couldn't get the numbers to work, then I saw this on eBay and I was the only one brave enough to bid. It needed a full restoration and I did 80% of it myself.

"Whenever I see a Volkswagen I automatically veer towards it to try to smash it off the road!"

Another 50th birthday being celebrated in style was that of Lamborghini, with vast numbers of post-Diablo models in particular, but it was an earlier car that stole the judges' hearts to take both best in class and overall Best of Show: the 1969 Miura S of Mark Jansen, all the way from Hamilton, Australia.

Drawing most of the attention away from the supercars, though, was Bill Scott's huge 1969 Lamborghini R-475 orchard/vineyard tractor, which towered over its sporting cousins.

"I've had a Maserati for 30 years and always wanted a Lamborghini but my wife wouldn't let me buy another car," said Scott. "So I bought this – and boy was she mad!"

The 5-litre direct-injection diesel 'four' weighs in at 8000lb and needed a full restoration, but that didn't faze machine-shop owner Scott, whose next project is a Ferrari 400 hot rod with Corvette V8 power.

That might upset a few purists among the great tracts of Ferraris of all ages at Concorso, from Dinos (above) to obscurities such as the wild Navarro Special 'Golden Car' created by NART's Luigi Chinetti based on a Ferrari 330GT (below).

De Tomasos are a West Coast favourite, and there was a fine turnout of Panteras on the immaculate Laguna fairways, along with a pair of Mangustas. Steve Wilson (pictured below with son Lee) bought his Pantera – of which he is the fourth owner – on the encouragement of his wife. “It was our 30th wedding anniversary and she asked me if I really
wanted one," said Wilson. "I said that I did, so she told me that I was
69 and I better hurry up!”

Wilson has done some work on the car to make it look closer to standard, such as removing a rear wing, but has retained the flared wheelarches and modified engine. “It’s a real hot-rod unit!” he says. “It’s been bored and stroked, and it’s got aluminium heads – it’s giving around 500bhp. It makes it interesting to drive. The cam is so hot that it’s always fighting you at low speed, but it’s really fun."

As always at Concorso, there was the usual selection of non-Italians on show, but this year they were sensibly corralled in a separate area away from the main Latin focus, with an eclectic set of Brits – from MG TF-1500 to Ultima GTR – plus Americans, French and Germans led by a gaggle of Porsches (below).

 

Further pictures from the event follow below:

Barry Hon's 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C-2300

Corvettes were among the foreign interlopers

308GT4s lead Ferrari 'middie' line

1953 Dodge Storm Z-250 bodied by Bertone

Biturbos front Maserati selection

White Countach looks just right on the West Coast!

Comments

RobbNorthrup

Alastair:

Enjoyed your comments on the Apollo and our 50th anniversary. However, you erred when you wrote that the Apollo was "Intermeccanica-built". This is only correct when mentioning the bodies. In the Apollo's case, Intermeccanica was only the contractor that built the bodies by hand in Italy (as was/is Pininfarina for Ferrari cars). The bodies were then assembled into cars by International Motor Cars in Oakland, California. Hence, the Apollo is not an "Intermeccanica."

On the other hand, the Griffith/GTX/Italia cars, along with the Indra, were indeed "Intermeccanica built," as the company assembled complete cars at their factory in Torino.

Robb Northrup
President, Apollo Owners Registry

PS: Were you able to deliver the Gordon Keeble info to Mick?

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