By Clark Allen ///// Photos by Jamey Price
Over the past 14 years, an intimate gathering has developed at the start Monterey Car weekend. This event – held at the beautiful Quail Lodge – has limited access, and tickets may be hard to find without advance planning. Quail Lodge is located inland from the coast, near Carmel. The lodge and golf course are nestled between the low inland hills, setting the stage for what is always a banner Car Week event.Traffic backs up early each Friday of Car Week as we head to the lodge. Even though I promised myself to leave early, I arrive late and face a long line of cars approaching Carmel. It takes an hour or more to go nine miles as we wait our turn to be parked on the sprawling greens of the club. The early morning fog and dew starts to give way to sun as participants trickle into the venue, which is packed with manufacturers and those invited to display some of the most beautiful cars in the world. Unlike Pebble Beach Concours, Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, Audi, Jaguar, Pagani, and others have their latest cars and concepts right next to vintage and modern private cars on display.
As we enter, we are delighted to see that the venue has been expanded with a larger area and less fencing, allowing for a more open feel. Beckoning from beyond the parking area is a full center display of classic and modern cars. These are rimmed by manufacturer stands, some complete with bars, hors d’oeuvres tables, and appealing models showing off their company’s latest. Tents offering wine, beer, and international foods intersperse the displays; this food and drink is included with admission. The mood is festive with both sharply dressed and casually clad guests mingling. A relaxed feel is in the air as there is no stress from judging. The main stage features an announcer interviewing some of the greats of auto racing and the automobile world.
After lingering over some Bugattis, I make my way to the Lamborghini marquee. Each year at the Quail, Automobili Lamborghini shows their latest offerings and sometimes gives a glimpse of the future. This year is no different. The all-white stage with a black logo backing showcases three Lamborghini supercars. Italian and Lamborghini flags wave in the morning breeze. On each side of the stage, we find Barcelona-style sofas with Italian tables centered under sunshades. Smartly dressed Lamborghini executives sip cappuccinos while Stephan Winkelman, CEO and President of Automobili Lamborghini, speaks with the many interested members of the press. He and others break away as they spot customers and friends. The overall mood is relaxed and friendly as we chat amongst the beautiful machines on display.
To the left of center is a gorgeous Rosso Mars Huracán. The red color jumps out and dazzles my senses. While the Huracán is dwarfed by the two Aventadors sharing the stage, it commands a substantial presence. Casually, I walk onto the stage with other guests. There I meet Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s R&D director, who is sweating in his Italian suit under the growing intensity of the Monterey morning sun. The perspiration adds to his passionate appearance as he explains the magnificence of the Huracán’s four-wheel drive system and transmission to a couple who are sipping on wine. Suddenly, the Huracán’s door flies open, and I see that the car’s interior is awash with Alcantara and carbon fiber. I’m mesmerized by the contrasting colors of the Exterior Rosso with the dark interior, which give the Huracán a sense of going a hundred miles an hour even though it is standing still.
The door closes with a pop, and I regain my composure.
Now behind the stage, I wander to the right of center. The factory has sent an Aventador Pirelli Edition. While I have seen this combination online, the contrast of the white body color with the black and red contrasting top colors just seems right in the mid-morning Monterey sun. Both subtle and extreme at the same time, the sharp contrast between the bianco and the nero gives this Aventador a sinister look. Alessandro Farmeschi comes up from behind me and jokingly offers his assistance in obtaining this car, pointing out the special Pirelli lettering on the tires. While impressed, I have come for what is boldly commanding center stage.
Outfitted in Blu Le Mans, the Aventador Superveloce Roadster makes its world debut at the Quail. This event has grown to the point that Lamborghini can use the venue to launch products and introduce new cars to their lucky customers who attend. The SV Roadster is the open-top version of Lamborghini’s fastest and most powerful car to date. Like its companion, the coupe, it is the most extreme version of the Aventador with performance numbers to back up its bragging rights. Mr. Winkelmann had said earlier that morning during the unveiling: “The Superveloce is the purest, most sports-oriented, and fastest series production Lamborghini ever. The Roadster version represents our commitment to satisfying our passionate clients with immensely emotional driving dynamics combined with an extraordinary open air experience.” These well-chosen words are lost in the blazing blue color as all on stage regress into their early teens.
Everything about this car is extreme. Carbon fiber exterior pieces adorn the body while an “in-your-face” wing perches at the rear of the car. The top is off, and the interior contrast of nero and rosso just works. Everything around the driver oozes speed with the volume dialed up to 11 just for good measure. I catch Mr. Winkelmann’s eye as he shows off the new offering to some potential buyers. There is a knowing grin on his face, and I digest the sharp edges and deep lines of the new Lamborghinis with my own eyes.
Visually exhausted from the experience, my colleagues and I retreat to the adjacent refreshment tent for Italian specialties and a good helping of wine. Once satiated, we continue onward to view the nearby group of Ferrari F-40’s next to a Countach and Diablo. A walk around the perimeter of the event leads us to the new Ford GT and a group of seemingly out of place Pagani Huayras scattered around a central display. But my mind keeps wandering back to the SV. Luckily the layout at the Quail is small, and Lamborghini has a central stand. A quick trip back and we are once again viewing the Superveloce in all its glory. Of course, the proximity to the food and drink tents always helps the experience.
As the day winds down at the Quail Lodge and the afternoon sun gives the cars a fresh look, we take one more lap around the displays and then drive toward the main road. But Lamborghini has a surprise in store! Test drives are available, leaving on regular intervals, for those who were signed up by their authorized dealer. A line of Huracáns stalk an Aventador as one of the Lamborghini test drivers takes a group of clients out on the open road for a spin. A quick run to the east and onto a twisting mountain road allows these supercars to stretch their legs.
After some refreshments and a quick presentation, it is our turn. Winding up the RPMs and closing in on the lead driver in a spirited run, the car’s performance matches the image. As the cars settle down back at the lodge, we acknowledge that it has been a perfect day accentuated by adrenalin at the end. The day winds down, and we head over the hill and back to Monterey in a steady line of traffic for dinner and tall tales of bravado and eye candy.