All posts by Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle.He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs.A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

Feasting at the Pebble Beach Concours

Ferrari race cars on the grass at Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen photos

The day started gray and cloudy, as usual, a chilly coastal mist drifting in from the bay. Although I missed Dawn Patrol – the famous gathering of early birds who arrive before daybreak to watch the first of the cars roll onto the field – I did get to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance early enough to witness a bunch of the cars drive in and take their places on the grass.

Chugging antiques trailing smoke, gliding classics and snarling sports cars and race cars, each was greeted with applause from the crowd of people already assembled hours before the start of the public show at 10 a.m.

A veteran race car rolls in

The air was charged with anticipation – as well as a haze of exhaust smoke – with each participant hopeful that his or her vintage automobile could win a prize, maybe even a best of class, a special honor, or even the much-coveted Best of Show award.

I walked the 18th Fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links as the concours spaces filled in, taking as many pictures as I could before the swirling masses of spectators make getting a clear shot nearly impossible. Soon, the sun came out and gleaming show cars popped with color.

My anticipation was experiencing the lineup of significant Ferraris here to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the revered Italian marque, the magnificent Isotta Fraschini luxury cars, open-wheel racers from past decades, and the quirky group of custom 1960s show cars. These were among the special classes, with 27 classes in all occupied by 204 very special cars brought to Monterey from around the globe by private owners, museums and major collections.

The 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer basks in its Best of Show honors

The Ferraris were stunning, dozens of rare models lined up in several classes of incredible Italian magic. I love seeing the early cars, such as the 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Touring Barchetta, along with the sighting of an iconic 1963 250 GTO, this one a class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as other successful race finishes.

The antiques and classics are always impressive at Pebble, a gathering of great old cars unlike anywhere else. Especially interesting, at least to my eye, were the 1935 Duesenberg SJ, an extravagantly styled limo by Bowman and Schwartz coachbuilders; a striking Darrin-bodied 1939 Packard 1703 Super 8 convertible; and any of the fine Isotta Fraschini (pronounced eye-sota fras-keeny) classics with their Art Deco grille designs.

The American Dream Cars of the 1960s class was pretty wild, especially the sprawling 1960 DiDia 150 Bobby Darin Coupe, the famous 1963 Mantaray by Dean Jeffries, and the innovative 1967 Gyro-X prototype that balances on two wheels via an internal gyroscope. It was great to meet customizer Gene Winfield, who was showing his 1964 Reactor coupe, which was not only a show car but a TV star.

1960 DiDia 150 and Dean Jeffries’ 1963 Mantaray

The best of show winner was something unusual, a 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer, sparkling in blue with bright silver hood and trim, owned by Bruce McCaw of Belleview, Washington, who seemed kind of stunned by all the hoopla.

My only disappointment during the day was the lack of a motorcycle class this year, always a favorite. The triangular grassy space where the vintage bikes are usually parked was depressingly empty.

But as a Porsche 356 guy, I was psyched to see an early Porsche make good. The 1952 Porsche 356 Reutter Cabriolet was the only Porsche in the show, unlike the gang of them at most other events and driving on the streets during Monterey Car Week.

A beautiful car, the 356 won best of class of Postwar Open, beating out some excellent ragtops from Lancia, Cisitalia, Kurtis, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, as well as a pair of Shelby Cobras. Very nice.

This was yet another terrific Pebble Beach Concours, now in its 67th year, the granddaddy of them all that sets the standard for the rest.


New Concorso Arizona, largest Corvette festival featured

Unique 1961 Ferrari 250 GT 'aerodynamique' highlight's Lime Rock's annual festival | Lime Rock Historic
Unique 1961 Ferrari 250 GT ‘aerodynamico’ highlights Lime Rock’s annual festival | Lime Rock Historic

A new collector car celebration, Concorso Arizona, has been announced to take place at the start of the Scottsdale/Phoenix area’s annual week of collection car auctions, shows and events in January. The inaugural event was announced last week at the Russo and Steele collector car auction in Monterey, California; the auction house is based in Scottsdale.

The Concorso, organized by Scuderia Southwest, will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Casino and Resort on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community just east of Scottsdale.

Concorso Arizona will deviate from the style of Concorso Italiano, which took place Saturday in Seaside, California, by including a full palate of car brands and nationalities besides Italian, including several American car classes, and those for Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, British marques, Japanese, something they’re calling “Ultra Fringe” for various oddball models, and several others.

Italian vehicles expected to show include those from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and DeTomaso.

Corvettes cruise through downtown Carlisle
Corvettes cruise through downtown Carlisle

For the past four years, the Scottsdale/Phoenix collector car events have opened with the Arizona Concours d’Elegance at the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort. But the Arizona Concours for January 2018 has been canceled, although it possibly could resume the following year.

For information about Concorso Arizona, visit the event website.

Calling itself the largest and most fun-filled Corvette event in the world, the annual Corvettes at Carlisle will feature more than 5,000 Chevrolet Corvettes representing all generations of America’s favorite sports car when it starts from Friday and runs through Sunday at the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Besides the massive show of Corvettes, events include such things as autocross and burnout competitions, a swap meet and all-Corvette Corral, and a huge parade through downtown Carlisle.

Sponsored by Corvette America, the show is open to all Corvette enthusiasts and their cars. For information, visit the event website.

1905 Rolls-Royce SIlver Ghost
1905 Rolls-Royce SIlver Ghost

Great Britain’s longest-running professionally judged concours, Salon Privé, has announced the full list of entries for its Thursday, August 31 show on the lawns of Blenheim Palace near Woodstock in the U.K.

Historic Aston Martins to mark the illustrious brand’s 100th anniversary will be featured, along with one of the oldest surviving Roll-Royces in existence, a 1905 Silver Ghost; the unique 1960 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Pininfarina Superflow IV; and many others in the magnificent setting.

For information and the list of entries, visit the event website.

Ferrari’s 70th anniversary will be celebrated September 3 at the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Held during the Lime Rock Park Historic Festival, the concours will feature a special Tifosi Fantasy class of rare road and racing Ferrari models.

Leading the pack from Modena will be a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione Speciale, a one-off alloy “aerodynamico” coupe by Pininfarina, built on 250 short-wheelbase chassis in the rare Comp61 specification.

For information, visit the event website.

Europe’s largest gathering of the Porsche tribe, Classics at the Castle, will take place September 3 at Hedingham Castle in Halstead, Essex, in the U.K. The show features the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911S, with a castle-driveway display of 50 examples in chronological order.

For information, visit the event website.

Cruising in to Carmel, Indiana
Caddy rolls into Carmel, Indiana

More concours and events

Carmel Artomobilia, an automotive street festival in the Arts and Design District of Carmel, Indiana, takes place Saturday. For information, visit the event website.

The Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance, an exclusive display of cars, airplanes and motorcycles, will happen Saturday in Englewood, Colorado. For information, visit the event website.

The two-day Autofest Nationals will be held Saturday and Sunday at Lakewood Park in Oshawa, Ontario. For information, visit the event website.

The Concours of Elegance, a moveable feast of vintage vehicles that circulates around Great Britain’s revered castles, returns to Hampton Court Palace on September 3 for a show of 60 rare cars from around the world. For information, visit the event website.

Pick of the Day: 1974 Mercury Capri

The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury
The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury

The Mercury Capri coupe of 1970-77 is pretty much a forgotten classic that nonetheless was quite popular in its day. The captive import built by Ford in Cologne, Germany, and sold in the U.S. by Mercury dealers, was favored by those who appreciated its European styling and sporty handling. But these days, they are rarely seen anyplace.

The Pick of the Day is a 1974 Mercury Capri described by its private seller as a “rare, exceptional vehicle.” These were fun cars to drive when powered by the 105-horsepower 2.8-liter V6, as this one is, and four-speed manual transmission. Continue reading

Innovative antique: Lancia Lambda glows at Concorso Italiano

Part of the sea of Ferraris at Concorso Italiano | Bob Golfen photos
Part of the sea of Ferraris at Concorso Italiano | Bob Golfen photos

Amid all the streamlined fantasy cars at Concorso Italiano, Steve Peterson’s 1924 Lancia Lambda seemed an ancient relic, apparently the oldest vehicle by far at the celebration of everything on wheels from Italy held Saturday on the Monterey Peninsula.

The Lancia seems boxy and old-fashioned at first, but move in a little closer and the trim, handsome and low-profile styling sharpens into focus, and the technological brilliance becomes apparent. Continue reading

Porsche Werks Reunion brings out the best from Stuttgart

The Werks Reunion brought together a major crowd of Porsche enthusiasts | Bob Golfen photos
The Werks Reunion brought together a major crowd of Porsche enthusiasts | Bob Golfen photos

Plenty of pretty Porsches crowded into the Corral de Tierra Country Club on the Monterey Peninsula for the fourth annual Porsche Werks Reunion, but few had the originality or the credibility of Jim Kinker’s bright-red 1969 911E Targa.

The Targa looked to be in excellent condition, as did many of the restored older 911s. But Kinker’s 911 has a key difference: it is an absolutely factory-original car from its glossy-red paint to its unmarred interior and its engine parts. If any car deserves the compliment of “time warp,” this one is it. Continue reading

Thousands crowd into Carmel for Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance

A 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost lead an  Aston Martin and Jaguar into Carmel-by-the Sea | Bob Golfen photos
A 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost leads an Aston Martin and Jaguar into Carmel-by-the Sea | Bob Golfen photos

Once a year, the picturesque and upscale village of Carmel-by-the-Sea becomes the absolute center of the known universe for collector car folks, and their friends, families and dogs. Usually a sleepy little burg where local folks and tourists come downtown to eat and shop, that all changes on the Thursday that the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance rolls into town.

The Pebble Tour, as it’s known, is the best deal on the Monterey Peninsula during car week, when most of the exceptional vintage cars from the greatest concours in America drive onto Ocean Avenue and park while the drivers and passengers stop for their catered lunch. Continue reading

Family-heirloom Ford Speedster at Carmel Mission Classic

Stephanie Brower at the wheel of the 1914 Ford Model T Speedster built by her father, lost and found again | Bob Golfen photos
Stephanie Brower at the wheel of the 1914 Ford Model T Speedster built by her father, lost and found again | Bob Golfen photos

Stephanie Brower’s red-and-brass 1914 Ford Model T Speedster would be a sunny piece of car history even without its heartfelt back story. But it does have one, a moving tale that explains how she happens to possess a sporty little Model T that’s more than a century old.

This is Brower’s own antique flivver, and she drove it to show Wednesday at the Carmel Mission Classic, held at the historic San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission in Carmel, California, a laid-back respite during the hectic Monterey Car Week. Continue reading

What Bob wants to take home from Russo and Steele in Monterey

Russo and Steele's colorful head honcho Drew Alcazar creates an 'action-packed' experience | Larry Edsall
Russo and Steele’s colorful head honcho Drew Alcazar creates an ‘action-packed’ experience | Larry Edsall

The high-energy Russo and Steele collector car auction launches its 17th annual Monterey sale Thursday with more than 200 cars crossing the block over three days in “what is undisputedly the most action-packed event anywhere on the Peninsula,” according to a company news release. Continue reading

Porsches reign but Ferrari wins at Carmel Concours

A fleet of Porsche 356 Speedsters attracts a crowd | Bob Golfen photos
A fleet of Porsche 356 Speedsters attracts a crowd | Bob Golfen photos

Porsches, Porsches everywhere. The booming popularity of nearly everybody’s favorite German sports car was powerfully evident Tuesday at the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel, California, an event considered to be the launch of Monterey Car Week.

Definitely the most-represented marque by far, Porsches packed the shady streets of the upscale burg – 911s by the score, including many intriguing customs and all-out race cars, plus an impressive collection of the earlier 356 models, with a gaggle of Speedsters, plenty of coupes and cabriolets, and an absolutely stunning 1951 356 coupe in dark maroon, a survivor from the early days of Porsche. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Volvo S90 Inscription, V90 Cross Country

The new Volvo S90 T6 Inscription shows the new design language for the Swedish automaker | Bob Golfen photos
The new Volvo S90 T6 Inscription shows the new design language for the Swedish automaker | Bob Golfen photos

I was a Volvo fan back when they were boxy and quirky, and we had a couple of kids to cart around. The favorite was a funky 245 wagon, the ultimate brick on wheels, yet actually fun to drive, partly because of its four-speed manual transmission with electric overdrive, which activated with a “clunk.”

The all-new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 wagon seems stunningly futuristic compared with our old Volvo 245 wagon of decades ago. Gone are the funk and the clunk, replaced by sleek styling, refined drivability and a brilliantly sophisticated interior dominated by a large, computer-tablet-like command center in the center of the dashboard. Continue reading