Richard Molke Jr. was walking around his 1965 Lamborghini 350GT with a book in his hand, stopping passersby at the Concorso Italiano to show off the history of his most-excellent “barn find.”
“This is my first rodeo with this thing,” said Molke, who traveled to Concorso Italiano from his home in Short Hills, New Jersey. And he wanted to make a good first impression.
His handsome blue Lambo coupe stood among the stunning array of raging-bull sports cars, a selection dominated by Countaches, Murcielagos and Diablos. But the 350GT looked supremely classy and polished, fitted with European headlights, wearing a fresh paint job and trimmed with an immaculate dark-tan leather interior.
As the story goes, a young man bought the Lambo back when they were relatively cheap used cars and drove it for a number of years before putting it away in the early ’90s with the intention of restoring it. But the restoration never happened, and three years ago, Molke bought the largely intact but well-used coupe.
“It was in pretty good shape but needed to be restored,” he said. Part of the effort was bringing the car back to how it was when it left the factory, he added, and a paint tag provided an important clue. “The factory tag was for a color called blue scurro, so now it’s painted the original color.”
There are an endless number of success stories at an event like Concorso, which brings together just about every major Italian brand, and some not so major, for a sweeping show of beautiful Italian cars held on the rolling fairways of the Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, where the event returned last year after several years at a different location. There were about 850 cars artfully arranged on the golf course.
Concorso has become a mainstay event for Monterey Classic Cars Week, and features an amazing number of Ferrari road cars, classic and modern, spread across the grass. Alfa Romeo was also well-represented, with post-war examples running the gamut of spiders and berlinettas, as well as such rarities as a TZ race car. The organizer of Concorso for the past few years, Tom McDowell, is an Alfa guy.
Maseratis, Lancias, De Tomasos and, of course, Fiats were out in force. Lamborghinis were lined up in a special area as Concorso celebrated 25 years of the Diablo. Other honors went to 50 years of the Iso Grifo, classic Ferraris and the Ferrari 250 GTE.
Among the group of Lancias, Antonio Corbelletta of Mountain View, California, brought his two appealing cars, a 1965 Lancia Flavia Pinfarina coupe and a 1960 Lancia Appia four-door berlinetta. He also owns a cabriolet that he is restoring. So he’s all about Lancia.
“First of all, I like their purity and the way they are built,” Corbelletta said. “I also like the simplicity of the design, very simple and functional. Lancias are just so solid.”
Up at the other end of the fairway, Joe Deason was showing off one of the most popular Italian vehicles of the post-war era, the Vespa Scooter. This one was a rare early model, known as a “fender light” because the headlight was mounted down on the front fender before they were moved up to the handlebars. The cheeky originality of the early Vespas make them most popular among serious scooter people, and there are quite a few.
Deason pointed out that this model should be familiar to fans of old movies because this is the same model Vespa, the Faro Basso, that Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zoomed around in Roman Holiday.
“Even people who don’t even ride want the Audrey Hepburn bike,” said Deason, a scooter fanatic who works at Bello Moto, a well-known scooter shop in San Francisco, for the past four years. Although, he points out, “I’ve been working on Vespas at home for more than10 years.”
Bello Moto, which also had a classic Lambretta scooter at Concorso, specializes in bringing old scooters back to life for both those who collect and those who ride, which Deason said he does every day. The store also has an extensive collection of unique and vintage scooters, he said, that makes it worth a visit.
“Our shop in San Francisco is like a scooter museum,” he said.
Photos by Bob Golfen