A Glimpse into Automotive Passion’s Future

A true eye-opener into the future of the collector car hobby and automotive passion was found at the most unlikely location: historic Cannery Row in Monterey, California. There, thousands flocked to see several hundred supercars slowly make their way down the famed street.

“You see all that is happening out there?” Brad Goldstone, the proprietor of San Francisco Sports Cars said as he motioned towards the noise of 300 modern exotics, and the controlled pandemonium of the joyous crowd taking it all in. “That’s the future of the collector car hobby and industry.”

We were in a restaurant on the waterfront in Monterey, California, finishing up a meal before once again venturing outside to take in an event called “Exotics on Cannery Row.” Thousands upon thousands of spectators lined the famed street to see current and recent generation supercars and hypercars of all colors, countries and types. As the machines slowly worked their way along an undulating corridor that was walled by people of all ages, a number yelled “Rev It!” as a car would slowly go by, many owners happily obliging.

Nothing But Good Vibes

Exotics On Cannery Row has become such a happening that Brabham brought over their recently announced BT62 track day special. If light weight and naturally aspirated horsepower are your thing, this could tickle your fancy…

The crowd’s energy and enthusiasm was genuine, and infectious. Smiles were everywhere, friends jostling and nudging each other as their favorite exotic crept by. Arms extended and cellphones recorded the next car approaching, more glee consuming the crowd as another engine revved. A few of the drivers had no clue on what to do, so they either refused to gun the engine or constantly hit the rev limiter. Interspersed were the true “heroes,” a handful of owners who indulged the crowd with un-muffled straight pipe exhaust systems that amplified their car’s high horsepower bark.

Those three hours at Exotics On Cannery Row gave me real hope for the future of automotive passion, for I have seen less and less younger generations at many of the events I attend. The pure joy and ebullience along Cannery Row was reminiscent of how things were in the 1970s, ‘80s and 90s, a time when cars were still “cars” and worshipped for what they did, how they made you feel when you drove them, and the companies, people and history behind them. Also like the old days, hardly anyone on Cannery Row was “peacocking,” hoping everyone would notice them rather than the cars.

Another high horsepower light weight special is the new Lancia Stratos. It’s based on a shortened Ferrari 430 Scuderia platform, and will go into limited production.

Truly Astounding Display

Perhaps the most amazing display was Michelin’s pavilion (for lack of a better word) that showcased Bugatti, as seen below. Constantly surrounded by throngs of spectators, if you couldn’t get close not to worry, for there was a large mirror high above the cars, angled in a way where you still saw the action. Elsewhere along the street were numerous Paganis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Mercedes SLRs and SLSs, BMWs, Audi R8s, Shelbys, Hennesseys, Koenigseggs and a whole lot more.

When in doubt, use a mirror to make sure that everyone in the crowd can see Bugatti's Chiron on the Michelin "Pavilion."

If those names aren’t rare or exclusive enough for you, there was some good “weirdness” (i.e. not mainstream) in attendance. For instance, this was the first time I had seen the new Brabham BT62 that was introduced earlier this year. ATS from Italy showed up with a luscious red GT, parked near the new Lancia Stratos that’s based on shortened Ferrari 430 platform, and will see limited production. And should “IC” (interal combustion engines) not be your thing, not too far away a number of electric supercar constructors such as Rimac had a machine there. Though with their silent soundtracks I don’t know if anyone was yelling at them to “Rev It.”

Jaw Dropping Supercars

Two other venues during Monterey Car Week that embrace all modern supercars are Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival (seen in above photo, with Ford's new GT front and center), and The Quail. In addition to The Quail’s popular “Supercar” class, Pagani always seems to have a dozen or more Huayras and Zondas around his stand (and yes, Horacio Pagani is there), while Bugatti unveiled for the first time anywhere their $6 million Divo (all are sold out). McLaren dropped my jaw with a stunning emerald-green Senna, Koenigsegg had the last two Ageras on its stand (one amusingly named “Thor,” the other being called “Vader”), and W Motors from the United Arab Emirates showed their angled Fenyr that’s powered by a RUF engine. And speaking RUF, the famed German constructor who turns Porsches into something even more remarkable, The Quail had a specific class for his creations.

Horacio Pagani and his cars have become somewhat of a stalwart fixture at The Quail. There always seems to be 10-12 Huayras and Zondas showing up.

In a conversation I had after the event with Gordon McCall (besides his own event he’s also one of driving forces behind The Quail), he noted how The Quail saw the supercar trend forming a number of years ago. “The interest is modern supercars is definitely increasing,” he said. “People are really embracing them. It’s why we have long had a class for them, and a number of manufacturers return every year.”

Perfect Balance

This year the event had the ideal balance between properly sized manufacturer displays and private entrant cars, with a number of constructors having debuts. The aforementioned Bugatti Divo (seen above) was one, Hennessey exhibited their 300 mph Venom F5, BMW had the world debut of the new Z4 convertible, ATS brought their red GT from Italy for its North American debut, and SCG showed their latest 003S. Audi had a new e-tron concept, Rimac exhibited an electric 1900-horsepower blue missile that they claim accelerates to 60 in under two seconds and approaches 260 mph in top speed, while Porsche highlighted their 70th anniversary with 356 Roadster chassis 001 and the all-electric Taycan super sedan that will go on sale next year. The custom coachwork class had several modern supercars such as the one-off “Shah of Persia.”

Hennessey is claiming a top speed of 300 mph for its Venom F5. I’m not quite sure who is nutty enough to drive it at that speed…

Auction companies have also embraced the modern supercar trend, for most every high-line sale seems to have more than one. In Monterey, Mecum Auctions had a tent filled with them: a Lamborghini Reventon and Centenario, not one or two but four Bugatti Veyrons, a Pagani Huayra, two LaFerraris, current and previous generation Ford GTs, a Ferrari Enzo, F50, F12 TdF, and more, all under the same roof.

Mecum Auctions has also embraced the modern supercar phenomenon in a big way. At their auction in Monterey, they had a room dedicated to the cars. In the foreground is a one of 20 Lamborghini Centenario, and a one of 400 Ferrari Enzo.

In Retrospect

Uber enthusiast Jim Glickenhaus brought not one but two of his SCG003s to the Quail. On the left is the road-going version, to the right the competition car.

When I started contemplating this blog entry, one couldn’t help but wonder if this may be the apogee of internal combustion horsepower in automobiles. But looking through the images of Exotics On Cannery Row had me reflecting on more than that. For many of the spectators in attendance, that may have been their first ever encounter with such machinery.

Meanwhile, for the past four decades I have been utterly blessed to photograph and drive them and their predecessors, and become friends with many of those who created them. If only everyone could be so fortunate…

At The Quail, Porsche showed its past and future with 356 Roadster chassis number 001 and the Taycan all-electric super sedan that will go on sale next year.

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