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2011 Monterey Classic Car Week Preview
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Each August, the Monterey Peninsula is the hub of the global classic car community. What began as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has steadily grown out as a full week of events, many of which alone are worth the visit. The first expansion to the program were the historic races on the nearby Laguna Seca track, followed in more recent years by a plethora of shows and auctions. Today these auctions tend to grab as many headlines as the events themselves as the big companies go out of their way to consign the most valuable machines. This year there are several cars lined up that might just break the $12 million record of the most valuable car ever sold at auction. For a more detailed look at what is planned for this year's Monterey Classic Car Week we have compiled the following concise preview.
Our reporters will be covering all the events and auctions humanly possible for the eighth year running. To make their lives a little easier, they have been entrusted with this, the latest Ford Mustang GT 5.0 in a very striking colour.

Concours on the Avenue (August 16th, Carmel)
One of the most recent additions to the Monterey Classic Week roster, the Concours on the Avenue is back in full force this year. In 2010 the organisers were forced to scale the event right down, using just a small section of Carmel's picturesque Ocean Avenue. Spectators are welcome from 11:00 am on Tuesday morning and as far as we can tell, access is once again free of charge. You can expect a colourful field of post-War classics with the cut-off at 1973 for all marques but Ferrari and Porsche, which are eligible through 1989.

McCall Motorworks Revival (August 17th, Monterey Jet Center)
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the McCall Motorworks Revival will once more serve as the social 'kick-off' of the Monterey Classic Car Week. Held at the Monterey Jet Center, the exclusive event kicks off at 17:00 pm on Wednesday. Visitors to this year's anniversary edition will be treated to food and drinks from the area's finest establishments in a surrounding packed with classic and modern cars as well as airplanes of various vintages. Lamborghini will use this occasion to launch their latest 'Aventador LP700-4' sports car to the American market, while Lotus will show the all new Evora GTE Road Car Prototype for the very first time. Other high-end manufacturers present include Aston Martin, Ferrari, Pagani and Porsche. Among the aviation companies lined up to present their products are Bombardier, Embraer, Gulfstream, Piaggio and Pilatus. The rest of the tarmac and hangar are filled with classic machinery, which usually provide a sneak peek of what can be expected at the events later in the week. Auctioneer Bonhams also has a strong presence, traditionally previewing some of their finest lots. Priced at $295, tickets are still available. Read on ...

Monterey Motorsports Reunion (August 18th - 21st, Laguna Seca)
Featured marque as the 2011 Monterey Motorsports Reunion will be Jaguar, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launch of the E-Type and the 60th anniversary of the British manufacturer's first outright win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Partnering with the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust there will be a massive display of Jaguars in the paddock to complement those that compete in the various races, which includes a special class for E-Types. Even more mind-boggling is a class reserved exclusively for the Ferrari 250 GTO.
Like last year the 17-race program is spread over four days with the first two days reserved for practice and qualifying, and the following two for warm-up and racing; nine groups on Saturday and eight on Sunday. Among the groups that will race are all of the fans' favourites, including the 3-litre F1s, Can-Am cars, Trans-Am, IMSA GTP and the sports racers that competed in the World Championship between 1964 and 1976. Read on ...

The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering (August 19th, Quail Lodge)
Traditionally one of the most exclusive events of the weekend, The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering is held in the peaceful Carmel Valley on the 18th fairway of the Quail Lodge golf course. At its core, 'The Quail' is a concours d'elegance like many others but there are some ingredients that make it truly unique. The entrants and spectators are treated to some of the finest cuisine with a choice of four different styles for lunch. The entrants also have the responsibility of judging their fellow participants' entries. Among the featured themes this year are the 50th anniversary of Phil Hill's F1 World Championship, the Riverside International Raceway, Ferrari America & Super America models, the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type and a century of racing motorcycles on the Isle of Man. Around midday, a parade will arrive from the nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a selection of entries from the Motorsports Reunion. The ' Quail Run' takes these vintage racing cars across the fabulous Laureles Grade Road. The Quail also hosts the two-day Bonhams & Butterfields auction that kicks off on the eve of the Motorsports Gathering.

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (August 21st, Pebble Beach)
The week is rounded off at Pebble Beach with the annual and very prestigious Concours d'Elegance. First held in 1950, it is not only the oldest but also the most important event of the Monterey Classic Car Week. A more recent tradition is the Tour d'Elegance on Thursday that gets the ball rolling for the Concours d'Elegance. Although participating is optional, completing the Tour successfully will give the entrant the advantage in case of a draw during judging on Sunday. For the spectators the Tour gives a rare opportunity to experience some of the world's most valuable and beautiful machines on the road. Among the celebrations this year are 125th anniversary of the Automobile, which is marked with three classes for Mercedes, Benz and Mercedes-Benz cars. Other featured marques and models include the Stutz Centennial (two classes) and the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Ferrari 250 GTO (one class). The event will also welcome back the concept car lawn where the latest creations are shown, which tend to include several world debuts. Read on ...

Bonhams & Butterfields Auction (August 18th - 19th, Quail Lodge)
Kicking off the auction action is Bonhams & Butterfields at the eve of The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering with the first of its two-day sale. The Anglo-American auctioneer's catalog features a very diverse selection of around 120 automotive lots. In keeping with its location, motorsport is very much the focus of this sale. Included are a lovely selection of Porsche racing cars, headed by two-time Sebring 12 Hours winning 962 and the 935 K3 that had so successfully been raced by Australian Rusty French at Laguna Seca during the last few years of the Historics / Reunion. Further highlights are the BRM P207, which is the very last BRM to have been entered for a Grand Prix and a BMW M1 Group 4 racer complete with 'art car' livery. Another lot to keep an eye out for is the Bentley 6.5 Litre with Vanden Plas sports tourer body, which was constructed in aluminium for its demanding customer instead of the more commonly used fabric. The big Bentley has survived remarkably with the original chassis, engine and body still together; a rarity for cars as heavily used as Bentleys traditionally are.

RM Auctions Sale (August 19th - 20th, Monterey)
Over the years the RM Auctions sale in downtown Monterey has yielded some of the weekend's biggest results. Following Pebble Beach's example, the two-day auction has a very strong Mercedes-Benz presence, more specifically of the top-end 500 K and 540 K models produced in the mid to late 1930s. These rank among the finest machines ever produced by the German manufacturer, which should be reflected in the prices. Expected to be the auction's single most valuable lot is this 540 K, clothed by the factory's special vehicle department with the spectacular 'Spezial Roadster' body. Only just over two dozen of these were built and the example offered boasts the most desirable specification. It also comes from a prominent collection and has benefited from a meticulous restoration in recent years. Although no pre-sale estimate was released, it might require an eight figure bid to obtain this 540 K Our eye was also caught by the even rarer 540 K Spezial Coupe. Only a handful of these fixed head machines were built and this is certainly one of the best in existence today. Ferraris also traditionally star at RM and this year is no exception with a 340 Mexico and a 375 America Vignale Coupe heading the Ferrari line-up, which also includes a 250 GT SWB and 750 Monza.

Gooding & Co. Auction (August 20th - 21st, Pebble Beach)
Located almost across the street from the Pebble Beach Lodge, the Gooding & Co. auction certainly has the best location and also arguably the most impressive catalog. Their star attraction is without a doubt the achingly beautiful 250 TR Prototipo. It is the most likely candidate to break the record, which is held by a similar 250 TR; in fact the owner told us that he would not let it go if the winning bid does not exceed the record. Another lot that will no doubt fetch top dollar is the equally striking Duesenberg 'Whittell' Coupe. Built to the custom order of Captain George Whittell Jr., this is certainly one of the most evocative Duesenbergs in existence. In addition to the big money machinery, Gooding & Co. will also cater to the connoisseur with more unusual cars like the Gobron-Brillie Skiff, which features an opposed piston engine and the Bentley 3-Litre Tourer, which is the oldest Bentley in existence and the first ordered by a customer.

Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com