The annual Monterey Car Week, held about 190km south of San Francisco in California, is arguably the world’s finest automobile festival.
The event’s cavalcades, concours and auctions traditionally draw the motoring elite from around the world, and marques often unveil their finest cars there. Here is a preview of the five cars that wowed international collectors at the August 15 to 21 festival. Most can be expected to be seen in Hong Kong, given local collectors’ keen taste for exotic vehicles.
The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept could be the marque’s most exciting innovation since last year’s F015 Luxury in Motion. Stunning in red, it is 5.7 metres long, electric powered with four-wheel drive, and looks like the world’s most luxurious 2+2-seater, promising 100km/h in “under four seconds”. The sleek, gull-winged coupe impressed the Californian car elite with the promise of 750 horsepower and a battery range to more than 500km. The deluxe plug-in’s 24-inch wheels are the marque’s most energy efficient.
Inside, there’s an elm floor, Chesterfield-looking seats, and a dashboard wing that “curves across the door trim into the seat landscape, creating a 360-degree lounge”, the marque says.
The windscreen doubles as a transparent display for driving and location information, which can be controlled and adjusted by the occupants using gestures, according to Mercedes-Benz. The car’s quick-charge function can add 100km of range in about five minutes, it adds. Maybe this or another Mercedes-Maybach “Red Baron” will soon close in on Tesla.
Cadillac presented the Escala Concept. Just over 15cm larger, “more elite and expressive” than the top-of-the-range CT6, the 5.34-metre four-door saloon represents Cadillac’s design direction, “aspirational character” and “return to the pinnacle of premium”, the 114-year-old marque says.
The concept’s bulky rear looks American, but its side view seems German on 22-inch wheels with two layers of spokes. The Escala Concept also has a facelift that is expected to be introduced to the rest of the Cadillac range, and features thinner organic light emitting diode elements “creating a sinister look, day and night” on a futuristic, curved dashboard.
The concept also prototypes touch, voice and gesture control technology and connectivity in a minimalistic, attractive interior. The concept may not be a production car but it may lead to one after all the positive reviews it has received since it was unveiled.
Aston Martin, meanwhile, debuted the Vanquish Zagato Volante at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, America’s biggest event for collectors’ cars.
Only 99 will be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon base in southern England, and it will be the latest of several collaborations with Zagato that began with the DB4 GT Zagato racer of 1960. The Vanquish Zagato Volante and Coupe have a 592-horsepower V12 engine capable of reaching 100km/h in about 3.7 seconds.
This sculpted convertible looks sharp with carbon fibre sills and neat tail lights, and shows little evidence of its bespoke folding hood. Interior touches include herringbone carbon fibre, anodized bronze and superhero-evoking “Z” patterns stitched or embossed into door, seat and centre-console leatherwork. Deliveries are expected to begin next year, and we expect to see one in Repulse Bay by Christmas 2017.
Liverpool-based Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) is back in the news. The British marque shook the Hong Kong motoring world when it sold eight of BAC’s single-seater Mono supercars, reportedly at the November 27 opening of its Kowloon Bay showroom last year.
Fitted with the “latest racing technology”, the 580kg Mono may be the ultimate track “toy” as it produces 305hp from a 2.5-litre Mountune four-cylinder engine, tops at 272km/h, and can reach 100km/h in under three seconds.
This month, the Scouse supercar toured California, initially as a sponsor at the August 4 to 7 V Foundation Wine Celebration in Napa Valley, California, and was then presented at Pebble Beach in partnership with winery Williams Selyem.
McLaren Automotive displayed the McLaren 570GT by MSO Concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Created by McLaren’s bespoke division MSO, the 562hp concept is literally a 570GT with knobs on. McLaren has upgraded the car’s styling and added features such as a “richer and more characterful” tone to exhaust, and a roof with an electro-chromic interlayer in a standard-fit UV-protective glass roof.
“Using touch-sensitive headlining, the Electro-Chromic Roof can be adjusted through five defined points from almost clear to a rich, dark tint,” Mclaren says. Other add-ons include gloss carbon-fibre sill panels and a 12-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Hi-Fi system. The 1,350kg concept is fitted with a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 M838TE engine producing 600Nm of torque, 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 328km/h via a seven-speed transmission.
Also worth a mention is Ford’s new carbon fibre GT supercar, which announced in Pebble Beach that it extend production for two years. The decision was based on Ford Performance’s decision to race Ford GT in International Motor Sports Association and World Endurance Championship series events until the end of the 2019 season. The marque wants to keep its halo-car clientele happy.
“While we can’t build enough Ford GTs for everyone who has applied, we are going to produce additional vehicles in an effort to satisfy more of our most loyal Ford ambassadors,” the marque said. “We want to keep Ford GT exclusive, but at the same time we know how vital this customer is to our brand.”