Monterey Car Week in California culminates in the Pebble Beach Concours, where the finest classic cars in the world, are invited for display. You’ll see Duesenbergs, Hispano Suizas, Ferraris, and Pierce Arrows that are worth into the millions. It’s where the well-heeled auto enthusiasts luxuriate in a gallery of glistening chrome and slick sheetmetal.
It’s also become the go-to venue for automakers when showing new luxury models and concept cars. These four were in good company when they were unveiled the week of August 18:
Infiniti Prototype 9
Imagine if Infiniti had not been born in the late 1980s, but rather in the 1930s. What kind of racecars would it have unleashed upon the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union juggernauts of Europe and during races in Japan? Created as an after-hours endeavor by employees across Nissan, with panels hand-beaten by master artisians, the Prototype 9 answers the dream.
You can see lineage to production Infinitis through the shape and chrome of the grille to the sculpting of the body. Shark gills aft of the front wheels, single crease hood, and 19” spoked wheels add a sense of speed and elegance. Black leather, contrasting red stitching, and turned aluminum dashboard with central instruments hub complements the exterior styling. Keeping it modern, the car is powered by a 30 KWh high-voltage battery paired with a prototype electric motor. It runs 0-62 mph in 5.5s and to a 105.6 mph top speed.
“We discussed the idea of ‘chancing’ upon an unrecognized race car, hidden away for decades in a barn, deep in the Japanese countryside,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design. “We wanted to explore what this looked like, what it would have been made of. Open-wheeled racers of the age were beautiful machines, elegant and powerful and with a wonderful purity of purpose. It’s an automotive fantasy, but the notion captured our imaginations enough to put pencil to paper.”
Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet
Germany’s luxury automaker envisions an exclusive electric car for its range-toping Maybach line. It pays homage to classic cars at Pebble Beach with a nearly 20-feet length, 24” wheels in rose gold, and boattail rear deck with narrow taillights. Flowing curves, bulged fenders, and crisp hoodlines beautifully accentuate Maybach’s vertical chrome grille topped by the famous Mercedes star.
By contrast to classic exterior proportions, the interior was crafted for this century. It’s an open air luxury lounge upholstered with crystal white Nappa leather accentuated blue back-lit buttons, open pore wood floorboards with inlaid aluminum, and a glass wrap-around display screen behind analog instruments. Navigation is linked to the owner’s appointment calendar; a concierge function works as if talking to a friend without special commands.
Appropriately, the Vision 6 was designed as an electric car packing 750 horsepower (550 kW), allowing it to run 0-60 mph under 4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Driven economically, it has a 200-miles range.
“The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet takes modern luxury into the realms of the ultimate in luxury, and is the perfect embodiment of our design strategy,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG. “Breathtaking proportions combined with a luxurious ‘haute couture’ interior help to create the ultimate experience.”
BMW Concept Z4
BMW roadsters are some of the most enjoyable cars on the road. Soon, a fourth generation of the modern BMW roadster will be upon us, previewed by the dynamic Concept Z4 during Monterey Car Week. Few details were given, but all you need to know can be seen and felt.
The Concept Z4 Roadster harbors all of the classic design cues: A long wheelbase, low cabin, body stretched over the wheels, and short rear deck. Front air intakes and side sculpting hint at the plug-in i8. Satin aluminum roll hoops add subtle bling. The car looks more athletic, a little more exotic, and breathtakingly beautiful. Passengers are placed more centrally in the chassis for a better sense of handling. A driver-focused cockpit with flatscreen instrument display also echoes the i8.
“The concept expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives an in all details,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “From the dynamic-looking front to the striking flanks to the clean-cut tail end: a few lines and the subtle interplay between surfaces are enough to generate a sense of power and emotion.”
Audi R8 V10 Spyder
The R8 represents the top of Audi’s performance portfolio, and it looked stunning sitting amongst other performance Audis in California. Painted bright metallic green, it was sure to gain attention – even if it isn’t as exotic as some of the concepts unveiled at the event. Though, it shares its engine and architecture with the Lamborghini Huracan.
Mounted behind the seats is a 5.2-liter V10 engine connected to a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automated transmission. The powertrain shoves the lightweight roadster 0-60 mph in a scant 3.3 seconds, making it the quickest roadster Audi has ever produced. Proving it’s no poseur, the R8 LMS GT3 race car that was on display nearby shares nearly half of its parts with the street car. A mega-fast two-seat exotic developed by Audi and Lamborghini seemed a natural on the lawn at Pebble Beach.