Fans of all things Italian converged on Laguna Seca Golf Ranch on Friday for Monterey Auto Week's annual celebration of Italian vehicles and style, the Concorso Italiano.
$3 million Ferrari SP1
The car that everyone wanted to get close to was the $3 million Ferrari SP1, the first special project vehicle released by Ferrari. The bodywork on this one-off Ferrari was created by legendary car designer Leonardo Fioravanti, one of Concorso Italiano's guests of honor. The underlying mechanicals are from the Ferrari F430. Ferrari will be releasing more special projects in the future, so if you have a spare $3 million kicking around, give them a call.
1968 Bizzarini Manta
Concorso Italiano was full of other fabulous Italian cars, too, and some of them weren't even red. This one-of-a-kind 1968 Bizzarrini Manta was designed by Giorgetto Guigiaro on a Bizzarrini chassis, and was allegedly created in 40 days. It was shown at the 1968 Turin Motorshow; soon thereafter, it vanished en route to the United States. It was rediscovered in the late 1970s and restored to original condition in the early years of this decade.
We're told that the collective noun for Lamborghinis is "a sprint of Lamborghinis"
Lamborghini fans were also in for a treat at Concorso Italiano as they perused one of the largest showings of the marque on the West Coast. Former chief test driver Valentino Balboni was another special guest at Concorso Italiano. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to get a shot of him next to the Lamborghini LP 550-2 named for him.
Pre-war Alfa Romeo
The focus wasn't just on recent cars, however. Some breathtaking examples of early Italian automotive machinery were on display, such as the pre-war Alfa Romeo pictured above. This perfectly restored classic was brought to Concorso Italiano in celebration of the 100th birthday of the Alfa Romeo brand.
Customized Fiat 500 Barchetta and toy Fiat 500 Barchetta.
Fiat, often considered by Americans to be the red-headed stepchild of Italian motoring, shone this year at Concorso Italiano. Presenting sponsor Fiat brought a portable, modernist cafe that looked as if it was taken straight from the pages of Dwell. They handed out free espresso and gelato to attendees. Representatives from Fiat spent time with the Fiat club, showing their investment in the passionate supporters of the brand (such as Fiat club legend Chris Obert, who brought the wicker-seated 1960 Fiat Jolly pictured below).
Fiat Row headed by 1960 Fiat Jolly
Fiat also had a special car at Concorso Italiano — the new Fiat 500, the brand's first move toward re-entry into the U.S. market.
The Fiat 500 premiere at Concorso Italiano
Fiat fans got up close and personal with the new Fiat 500, which (as seen in the slideshow below) takes its cues from the original, adorable design and brings it into the 21st century. The Fiat 500 will be sold in the United States in 2010.
Side by side view of classic and new Fiat 500, by Mike Rainey.
For more photos of the Concorso Italiano, see our Concorso Italiano Flickr set. For more coverage of the other events leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, click here to see all our posts on Monterey Auto Week. For information on all events during Monterey Auto Week, see our Monterey Auto Week and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance page.