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Monterey Car Week 2014

August 21, 2014

Monterey Car Week. Where else can you see supercars at the supermarket? (In this case, it's a Hennessey Venom GT parked nonchalantly in downtown Carmel.)

We’re back from another great Car Week on California’s Monterey Peninsula. For those who don’t know, Monterey Car Week is arguably the world’s premier event for historic automobiles. Car owners and enthusiasts come in from around the globe for six days of driving tours, auto art shows, car auctions and races, all culminating with the incomparable Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the shore of Carmel Bay. This year being the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, The Henry Ford’s one-of-a-kind 1962 Mustang I concept car was invited to participate in three of Monterey Car Week’s signature events.

Mustang I - with engine exposed - sits in front of a P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

Our week began with Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival, a sort-of kickoff celebration held at the Monterey Jet Center on Wednesday, August 13. The event staff took full advantage of the airport setting – Mustang I was displayed in front of a P-51 Mustang fighter airplane. There were exotic supercars, over-the-top hot rods (including one powered by a Packard V-12 marine engine – yes, a boat engine), and even a few racing celebrities. We were especially pleased when Dan Gurney stopped by to say hello. Mr. Gurney drove Mustang I for Ford Motor Company at Watkins Glen in 1962, and he was happy to see “his” little roadster again.

The first Meyers Manx dune buggy - the origin of a surfside classic.

On Friday, Mustang I participated at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering. While The Quail is a haven for exotics (and there were many Maseratis, Bugattis, and Alfa Romeos in attendance), this year’s show also honored a few more conventional marques. Mustang I sat proudly alongside seven other racing ponies in the Competition Mustangs class. On the other side of the show field, another 50th anniversary brand was commemorated in a display of several Meyers Manx dune buggies. The fiberglass-bodied, Volkswagen-powered sand runners debuted in 1964 and remain emblematic of late 1960s-early 1970s fun-in-the-sun car culture.

The Quail gave us a surprise when Mustang I was selected best in its class. Typically, The Henry Ford does not submit its vehicles to judging at car shows. The prizes are more for the benefit of private collectors who put so much time and effort into their cars, and take such pride in the awards that they earn. Judging at The Quail is a bit different, though. Rather than by a panel of judges, class winners are selected by the participants in each class. In other words, Mustang I was chosen by the seven other Competition Mustang owners. It was a real treat for The Henry Ford and, I think, a way for our fellow Mustangers to honor the 1962 concept car – the first Ford to carry the name “Mustang” – as the start of an iconic brand.

Mustang I in Ford Motor Company's "Mustang Garage" at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Leaving the more refined spaces of the Jet Center and The Quail, Mustang I spent the weekend at the track. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted its annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a veritable racing museum where vintage race cars from the 1910s to the 1980s actually… race. It was something of a homecoming for our car – soon after its Watkins Glen debut, Dan Gurney drove Mustang I in a demonstration at the 1962 Pacific Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Fifty-two years later, the concept car still turned heads at that track. In fact, we heard from several visitors who, all these years later, still remembered the excitement they felt seeing Mustang I in car magazines that fall. Now that’s a testament to good design!

Maserati, celebrating its centennial in 2014, was a featured Pebble Beach marque. This 1938 Tipo 8CTF, a two-time Indy 500 winner, appeared courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation.

Our week concluded with a visit to the capstone event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The show always attracts some of the most exceptional cars in the world, and this year did not disappoint. Maserati’s centennial was celebrated with 22 of the Italian automaker’s race and street cars. Ruxton was the featured American marque, with 16 of these fascinating early front-wheel drive cars in attendance. Those who have followed Pebble Beach over the years likely noticed that history was made in 2014: a 1954 Ferrari 375 MM won Best in Show. It’s the first time a Ferrari took the top prize, and the first time in almost 50 years that a postwar car won. (And speaking of Ferraris and history, I should note that this year’s Car Week brought another auction record when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for more than $38 million. Mind you, that price was less than what some experts had predicted.)

If you’re passionate about automobiles, then you owe it to yourself to visit the Monterey Peninsula for Car Week. You’ll never see so many rare, beautiful and – yes – expensive cars together in any other place. It’s Heaven on Earth for car guys.

See Matt in action below:

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

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