As Concorso grew over the years the number and percentage of non-Italian cars also grew. Not intrusively, this was still an Italian car show with zillions of Italian cars. But there did seem to be more of, for instance, BMW 750iLs around lately. Not this year. Concorso cappo Tom McDowell saw to that.
“We have well over 850 cars,” said a less-sunburned-than-last-year McDowell. “The number of Italian cars is up and the non-Italian down; though we prefer to call the non-Italian cars ‘Global Exotics.”
That’s good for the spirit of the show and ultimately good for everybody. While some shows will take anything that rolls in as long as it pays an entrance fee, Concorso is drawing a couple lines in the sand, or rather, in the lush green grass of the Bayonet Black Horse golf course in Seaside, Calif.
“We’re paring down the number of cars like the BMW 7-Series, which you can go down to the dealer and see,” said McDowell. “They’re beautiful cars but we’re paring them down. “
What was up were the Italians. While there were a lot of cars (850-plus) sprawled out over two huge fairways of the golf course, they were now mostly from Bella Italia.
“I’m not sure I’d measure success by numbers,” McDowell said. “The quality is up this year.”
For instance, the Ferrari Club of America national meeting was being held in Monterey and many of them were on hand. Car shows love anniversaries, and there were a few of those: This is the 50th year of Iso Grifo, an occasion celebrated by the presence of the first Iso, courtesy of the nearby Blackhawk Museum in Danville, and the last; and the Lamborghini Diablo celebrated 25 years at Concorso.
What was probably the biggest gathering ever of Ferrari 250 GTEs since those cars left the factory took place at Concorso, with 27 of them corralled on the main fairway.
And the ultra-rare Thomassima II made a showing. The product of American Tom Meade, who moved to Italy to pursue his dream of making an exotic sports car, the Thomassima II looks a little like a Ferrari P4. It could have won best in show but that honor went to another fabulous car, Ted Johnson’s 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB.
“I don’t want to say it was an easy decision,” said McDowell diplomatically. “But we have had harder choices.”
The American-designed, Italian-built Thomassima II.
There was something for everybody. Katrina Couch, the marketing and fashion manager for Concorso, organized the first-ever “Ladies Lounge” at the event. There were no men allowed but we snuck in — to ask journalistic questions, of course.
“The idea came because the men come here with their wives and girlfriends and after a few hours they’re tugging on the man’s shirtsleeve saying, ‘Can we go now,’” Couch said. “The idea is, we do a fashion show and then afterwards they — the fashion models and the wives and girlfriends — can spend the afternoon in the lounge. It’s a place for the ladies to come and sit down.”
And by that point in the afternoon, we were looking for a place to sit down. What does McDowell have next? Desert Concorso is coming Nov. 15 to Palm Springs Stadium. It celebrates European cars, not just Italian, with the same mix of food and fashion thrown in.
“Come on out in the desert in November,” said McDowell. We will have to do that.