6 eclectic rides from The Quail 2019
The Quail this year was nothing if not eclectic (and a little electric) this year. They still call it by its rather grand title, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, even though racing cars ceased to be the centerpiece of this ritzy Friday kickoff event to the annual Pebble Beach car weekend. Years ago, racing machines took center stage at the Quail and there was even a noisy parade of racers from nearby Laguna Seca into the show as part of the spectacle.
But a few years ago, this platinum-plated event, in which both show entrants and visitors pay up to $900 for their tickets, pivoted to focus more on modern-day super- and hypercars. Both Pagani and Koenigsegg, two hypercar boutiques that sell mid-engine carbon-fiber bolides in the lofty seven-figure class, had lavish factory displays, as did Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Porsche (Ferrari spends its bucks on the Casa Ferrari at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, where the Concours takes place on Sunday).
Apart from the numerous food tents—food and drink is included with the ticket—as well as various vendors offering everything from luxury yachts to private helicopters and jets, the rest of the show grounds at the Quail were the usual out-there assortment of this-and-that. Here, as everywhere in Monterey this year, Bentley’s centennial was feted with a large display of pre-war cars from the company’s original Cricklewood factory.
In addition, there were these six tributes to American ingenuity and entrepreneurism to savor:
Bosley GT and Interstate MK II
Professional horticulturist Richard Bosley, perhaps inspired by his significantly wealthier contemporary, Briggs Cunningham, designed and built the original GT in 1953 in his home town of Mentor, Ohio, just northeast of Cleveland. The swoopy fiberglass body vaguely evokes the European racing coupes of the day but with gargantuan proportions and an almost cartoonishly low roofline that was fairly ahead of its time. As with Cunningham, Bosley relied on the best American engine of the era, the Chrysler 331 Hemi. Unlike Cunningham, he lacked the funds to develop the car into a saleable product, and instead drove it 100,000 miles himself before trading it in for a racing Corvette.
The Interstate Mk II was Bosley’s next opus, built 13 years later on the chassis of that Corvette and intended as a touring car for America’s then-new interstate highway system. Once again Bosley was ahead of his time, employing a high-mounted stop light, a rudimentary heads-up display, and seats with modern bolsters. The engine was a Pontiac 389 V-8 paired with a 35-gallon fuel tank for bladder-busting jaunts. Bosley kept the car until the late 1980, then it disappeared for over a decade until it resurfaced in 2015 and was restored.
This American one-off has a direct GM connection: Pontiac engineer Herb Adams, one of the famed engineers behind the GTO Judge, the 455 Super Duty, and the Trans Am, built the car as a hobby project in 1965 with inspiration from the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concept cars of the 1950s. The electric-blue interstellar body with its curled tailfins was crafted out of aluminum by Englishmen Jack Henser, Harry Kennedy, and John Glover, three concept-car fabricators collectively known as “The Beatles of Troy, Michigan.” The car rolled on full-size Bonneville alloy wheels and ran a Pontiac (of course) 370 V-8. Adams debuted the car at the 1966 Detroit Autorama but quickly sold it to settle a few racing debts. It went into hiding for the next 40 years, reemerging from an Ohio lockup and going into restoration in 2010.
Zelectric 1964 VW Split-Window Bus
Quail dedicated an area this year to electric conversions, which were mostly vintage VWs retrofitted with Tesla battery packs and electric motors. San Diego-based Zelectric Motors brought a couple, including this 1964 VW bus, running batteries and a motor from a parted-out Tesla.
“It doesn’t take much to total a Tesla,” says company CEO David Benardo, so there is always a ready supply of components. The 100-mile-range conversion is expensive, starting at $65,000 not including the cost of the bus, and escalates as more range—up to 250 miles—and other features such as air conditioning are added. Even so, Benardo claims a one-year waiting list of customers wanting EV conversions for their vintage VWs, which the company is focusing on for now (though they have done a few Porsches, too).
American Honda 1961 Chevrolet half-ton pickup
The mega success that is American Honda launched in 1959 out of a small storefront office in west Los Angeles, purchasing a small fleet of Chevy pickups to run inventory out to its first LA-area dealers. Owned and restored by American Honda, this ’61 Fleetside carries a 1960 Honda 50 scooter, still in production today in various forms and one of the first products to elevate the company’s brand into a household name under the ad tagline, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” Next to it is a restored 1965 CB160.
De Tomaso P72
Making the rounds throughout the weekend, the De Tomaso P72 is yet another attempt to revive the name of the maker of the Mangusta and Pantera, which were sold in America though Lincoln-Mercury dealers at the behest of Lee Iacocca. Hong Kong-based Ideal Team Ventures purchased the brand from the Italian government—ironic considering how many deals over the years fell to squabbling over the De Tomaso name—and plans to build 72 examples of the car you see here with an as-yet unnamed automaker partner who will supply the as-yet unspecified powertrain, for a price that equates to $832,000 at current exchange rates.
The name, P72, pays tribute to a De Tomaso Can-Am car called the P70 that that was being developed by Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby in 1964 until, as per form, the deal fell apart and Shelby went on to work in the Ford GT40 program. Peter Brock, longtime Shelby associate and designer of the Cobra racing coupe, was involved in shaping the new P72.