A smaller, more intimate Concorso Italiano

1970 Iso Lele

Salute!

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Monteral

Alfa Romeo Veloce

Kevin Cogan’s (not the racer) 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica 

De Tomaso Pantera in the viewing area

Ferrari Dino GT

Lamborghini 400GT

Lancia rally car in Martini & Rossi livery

Lamborghini 400GT 2+2

Lamborghini Espada

1987 Countach

Diablo!

LM002 with a Cummins turbodiesel swap

Le shooz

Ferrari

It seemed like a less crowded, somewhat smaller, more relaxed Concorso Italiano this year, showcasing the best and most beautiful of Italian cars in one of the most spectacular settings on the Monterey Peninsula. The show was still at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course on the old Fort Ord north of Monterey, but it was moved a couple fairways over, away from the clubhouse where it had been held for many years. This was largely a good thing, as the new location was almost serene in its natural, isolated splendor. Concorso organizers said there were “a record 800 works of Italian automotive art” on the field this year, though it wasn’t clear if that was all cars or if it included artwork for sale at the show. Still, if you like Italian cars, this was the place to come during car week in Monterey.

One traditional part of the show that was missing this year was the presence of emcee Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market, who is bravely doing the hard work to recover from a stroke he suffered last year. Martin has said he will attend car events this year, but was not yet ready for this one. Send him a get-well card at https://www.sportscarmarket.com/contact-us. The good news is that veteran automotive journalist and Italian car book author Matt Stone stood in and did a splendid job. Stone’s background in Italian supercars is nearly unmatched, and it showed through as his commentary filled the afternoon awards ceremony with detail and background on the cars that crossed the block.

That ceremony culminated with the Best in Show going to Ron Corradini’s 1960 Ferrari 250 GT II Cabriolet, a sharp silver/gray car from the traditional egg crate grille to the trademark taillights. Samuel Chuffart, VP and global design director of Italian design and prototyping firm Icona presented Corradini with a custom sculpture in honor of his win.

Out on the field was every kind of Italian car you ever lusted after as a kid or realized you could afford as an adult. Right out of the entry gate were the Alfas, with near-perfect Giuliettas and Giulias galore. Not a knick in the paint of any of them.

Just down from that was the awards stand, where Connor Kogan was piloting his dad Kevin’s 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Aero Coupe toward the reviewing stand.

“We’ve had the car five years and taken it on multiple rallies,” he said, before relating one late-night drive with the Duke of Marlborough. “At 100 mph around turns, it feels great.”

Down the hill from that we counted five Lamborghini LP400s. Or rather, four 400s and a 350. There were three Miuras, and from there the hill was populated with Diablos and Countaches. Among the Countaches was Jeff Maxwell’s 1987 5000S, tended to by a friend.

“He had the poster in his room,” said the friend. “On one wall was Farrah Fawcett, on the other wall was this.”

The car is white, just like the poster one.

“He drives it one week a year, this week.”

Just down from that was an LM002. But not stock. Michael Carpenter said when his dad Jim found the original SUV, it had no engine. They have a business called Italian Design and Restoration LLC in Mesa, Arizona, which specializes in working on Ferraris and Lamborghinis and other Italian exotics. So the lack of an engine wasn’t so much a challenge as an opportunity.

“We asked everyone we knew who had one what they liked and what they didn’t like,” said Michael. “They said it was underpowered, had bad brakes, a heavy clutch and they didn’t like the steering.”

So they put in disc brakes, a better clutch, better steering and a Cummins turbodiesel that boosts horsepower to 600 and torque to 1,200 lb-ft. Sounds like an excellent solution, especially considering the original LM002 made 450 hp and 360 lb ft.

From there it was over to the Ferraris, where there were a lot of 599s and 458s, among others. Up that fairway was a Fiat Multipla from Concorsos past, still in perfectly restored shape. Just up the hill were the Isos, including a perfect-looking Rivolta GT and a Lele.

“They’re very good-handling cars,” said the Rivolta owner, Ted Hirth. “They’re not as good around town because the steering’s heavy, but on the open road they’re a dream.”

The Lele was cool, too, owned by Mike and Jennifer Clarke. How often have you ever seen a Lele? Such are the charms of Concorso Italiano.

Until next year then, ciao baby!

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