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The Quail 2018 – a Lancia leads the very special Monterey car event

The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering is considered the most exclusive event of the whole Monterey Week calendar. Established 11 years ago, it has already earned a strong reputation. The Quail’s recipe is a peculiar mix of fantastic modern supercars and classic cars, and the entry ticket — by no means easy to come by — includes all the food and champagne you could possibly want. While “die-hard car guys” might find other events more interesting, if you like a rarefied atmosphere and a very special social occasion, then this is the event for you. The Quail 2018 show included dedicated classes celebrating “50 Years of the Lamborghini Espada & Islero”, the work of Alois RUF, and the history of the Mille Miglia.

The Best in Show of The Quail 2018

The 2018 Best in Show prize went to a 1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200 C Spider by Pinin Farina, from the Lee Collection of Reno (NV). The car (chassis #B52-1052) is an almost unique Pinin Farina concept car based on the very rare Aurelia B52 rolling chassis, and it was shown at the 1953 Geneva and Turin car shows. The PF200, of which eight in total are believed to have been built, each differing slightly from the others, is a perfect example of the “jet age” in car design.

This particular car at The Quail 2018 is thought to be the second of the only three open-top examples built, and it features more extensive use of chrome details, a two-position windscreen and no side windows. As often happens with these special cars, the PF200 was modified between shows, and after its appearances in Geneva and Turin it was painted a different color and equipped with a new windshield, shaped to better protect the driver’s side. It was then shown at the Stresa International Concours d’Elegance in September 1953, where it won a Grand Prize Honor. Still today, it has a plaque on the dashboard commemorating this success.

After the Stresa show, it was registered to a private owner and given a Milan registration plate. In the 1960s, it was exported to the USA where, after spending some time in California, it was sold to William Borrusch, an automotive engineer from Michigan. This was the start of a 30-year ownership, during which Borrusch moved to Florida, taking the car with him. It was professionally restored to a high standard during this period; the original engine, found to be beyond repair, was replaced with a block from a PF200 Coupé. The restoration work took around ten years. Thanks to this excellent work, in 2013 the car enjoyed an amazing run of successes, winning its class at almost every car show it entered, including Villa d’Este and Amelia Island. It is featured in the much acclaimed book Stile Transatlantico by Donald Osborne, who is considered the main Lancia expert in the USA.

The RUF celebration

If a Porsche is a Porsche, then a Ruf Porsche is even more of one! In 1939, Alois Ruf Sr founded the German company Auto Ruf (today Ruf Automobile GmbH), a service garage. In 1949, the business was expanded with the addition of a gas station. However, the company’s real transformation was brought about by Alois Ruf Jr. Born in 1950, Alois Jr was still a teenager when he started working in the family business, servicing Porsche 911s, which were his true passion. When, in 1974, at the age of just 24, he inherited the business, he lost no time implementing his ideas for the firm.

By the following year, the first Ruf “prepared” Porsche 911 was already a reality. From then on, the company’s story reads like a series of successes, starting with the first Ruf Turbo 3.3, based on the 930, followed, in 1978, by the SCR, the first complete non-turbo car. Finally, in the mid-1980s, Ruf took the important step, with the CTR series, of buying white chassis (meaning chassis not stamped with a Porsche number), so as to be able to manufacture cars that are not Porsches (formally, Ruf is a car manufacturer in its own right, and its cars are stamped with Ruf numbers), even though they are based on the Weissach mechanics.

Today Ruf will still service, repair and pimp existing Porsches (this remains a key part of its business) as well as its own Ruf models, creating collectable cars that are wonderful to drive. The Quail 2018, which included a class devoted entirely to the German firm, was an opportunity to see some wonderful examples of its work, including a 1967 Porsche 911 S Targa, still with the rear soft top. Alois Ruf Jr himself was among the guests.  

The Espada and Islero 50th anniversary celebration

Automobili Lamborghini is a long-standing guest at The Quail, always providing a sort of show within the show. This year the Italian firm chose this event as the stage on which to launch its Aventador SVJ, which, with its impressive 770 HP, is the most powerful Aventador built to date. The event also saw the company celebrating 50 years of two of its most iconic models: the four-seater Espada and the 2+2 Islero, both launched in 1968. Looking at the history of Lamborghini, it is amazing to realize how dynamic the company was in its early years: founded in 1963, by 1966 it was already producing the now legendary Miura (its third model), and in 1968 two further models were added to the range, both perfect examples of the gran tourer category. The Espada went on to become one of the most successful Lamborghinis (of the pre-Audi period), remaining in production for 10 years during which it was built in three different series for a grand total of 1226 units. The Islero, on the other hand, was manufactured for about one year, totaling 225 pieces (including 70 “S” versions). The 20 cars on the field made for an impressive spectacle, further enhanced by the amazing rainbow of colors on display, which has become something of a Lamborghini tradition.

The Best in Class was a perfectly restored Verde Carabo Islero S, a 1969 model (chassis #6643). Originally sold in Switzerland it has a largely European history. In 1970, it was featured in a German car magazine. Restored in 1999 by Precious Metals, all its main components are still the original ones, including the air conditioning and radio complete with eight-track tape player. It was purchased by its current owner, an American collector, in 2000 and it has done 80,000 km from new. In addition to this car, many onlookers were drawn to the Islero once owned by Ferruccio himself, being particularly taken with its very attractive color combination of light blue over beige interior. It was a delight to see how many people stopped by at the Lamborghini show just to say “ciao”. They included Jay Leno, who spent quite a lot of time exploring an Espada, Wayne Carini and Valentino Balboni, the now retired Lamborghini test driver, regarded by many as part of the living legend of the firm. He is hugely knowledgeable about Espadas: “I used to test drive them before delivery” he explained, “and I should still have a book with the chassis numbers of all the Espadas I drove back in period. It is a great car, and it is only by driving it that you can appreciate just how fast and comfortable it is, despite its considerable dimensions for a sports car”.

The Tamiya at The Quail 2018

Adults often want the same toys as children, just bigger versions! Car collectors, more than anyone, will know what I mean. Take the American collector who, in adulthood, decided to build a Volkswagen Beetle to resemble, in every last detail, a car that had been his passion during his teenage years, namely a Tamiya RC model buggy. The final result of his efforts was quite astonishing, as the finished car, based on a rusty Beetle, transformed for this purpose, is a perfect 1:1 scale replica of the toy. Many would have loved to have gone for a beach ride in it!

The Lancia Martini celebration

Perhaps the most spectacular class, and certainly one of the best sounding, was the one devoted to Lancia Martini racing cars, which brought together some of the most amazing pieces built in period by Lancia Squadra Corse, which were used to compete, successfully, in the World Rally Championship and the World Endurance Championship. The Best in Class was the 1981 Lancia Martini Beta Montecarlo which finished 1st in Class and 8th overall at the 1981 Le Mans 24 Hours. Other notable contenders included an ex-works 037 (chassis #411), used in the 1984 World Rally Championship race in New Zealand, where it was driven by Markku Alen/Ikka Kivimaki, and a 1988 Delta Integrale (#ZLA831AB0417887), built by Abarth in 1988 and used by Miki Biasion to win the 1988 Portugal Rally and Olympus Rally. One of the rarest cars was the 1982 Lancia LC1 Group 6 (#001) that won the 1982 Silverstone Six Hours. Another interesting car, raced in period by Giorgio Pianta and Marrku Alen, was an S4 (#208), a factory test car for use in snow. All in all, the sight of so many cars sporting the Martini livery was pretty amazing.

All photos courtesy of the author.

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