Under new ownership and at a different location, the Concorso Italiano made a fresh start in 2009. That was definitely needed after the disastrous move to the Marina Airport a year earlier. The uninspiring backdrop, high winds and dust overload proved nearly fatal for the event. The odds were against the 2009 edition, as a rivaling event with a similar theme was scheduled on the same date at the Black Horse Golf Club; the scene of so many Concorsos. With Tom McDowell at the helm and a move to the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, Concorso Italiano made a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. The loyal visitors and entrants were rewarded with a fabulous display of Italian excellence that quickly wiped the 2008 edition from memory. Further proof of this is provided by our 70-shot gallery
Ferrari 288 GTO 25th Anniversary
Originally built as a homologation special for a Group B rally car, the Ferrari 288 GTO has gone into the history as the Italian marque's first real supercar. Only 273 were built and today they are very rare sight. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the twin-turbo V8-engined sports car, an attempt was made to bring together the biggest assembly of the model. The world record dated back to the late 1980s when twelve GTOs were assembled at the Dutch Zandvoort track. In North America only four were ever together at the same time. With fifteen examples present both records were handsomely shattered at the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch. Among them was one of the six 'Evoluzione' racing cars and the very last 288 GTO that rolled off the production line.
Four Alfa Romeo B.A.T.s
The three Franco Scaglione-designed experimental show cars built by Bertone on Alfa Romeo basis in the 1950s have been part of the Blackhawk Collection for several years now. As a result seeing the original B.A.T.s (Berlinetta Aerodynamica Tecnica) is not all that difficult. At this year's Concorso the organisers did one better by inviting the B.A.T. 11 that was commissioned by Gary Kaberle in 2008. So for the first time we could compare the new and old B.A.T.s 'in the metal.'
Additional celebrations included the golden anniversary of DeTomaso, highlighted by a massive collection of Panteras. Legendary Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni was honoured with the introduction of a special edition Gallardo named after him. He was also awarded a watch by talk show host Jay Leno. The SV 9 Competizione, built up the road in San Francisco, also celebrated its world debut at the show. Also grabbing a lot of attention was a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 that had been in South African ownership for the last 50 years. Although fitted with a late 1930s coachwork, it has survived in remarkable original condition.
Best of show
The judges had the difficult job to pick the very best from the large selection of glorious Italian machinery. The surprising winner of the much coveted 'Best of Show' award was Martin Loge and his Maserati Mexico. The V8-engined, Vignale-bodied two-seater had just been restored by the owner himself. The Concorso Italiano was the post-restoration debut for the Mexico and the meticulous work was immediately rewarded.
Thanks to the hard work of all involved, the entrants and the new location the 24th Concorso Italiano will go into history as one of the finest. The end seemed near only a few months earlier and now everybody is looking forward to the 25th edition of the celebration of Italian motoring. We have already learned of the goal to bring together forty F40s.