It’s good to be back. With several of you in some sort of lockdown, escape with me to California where things are getting back to normal, even car shows. Monterey Car Week was back in full force this year after a hiatus in 2020. This year however, with California easing restrictions, one of the best automotive events in the world was back on.
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering remains one of my favourite events on the automotive calendar and they put on a great show this year even with some pandemic changes. There were noticeably fewer people in attendance and it seems like manufacturers anticipated this too with a smaller than pre-pandemic level of display. Still, the rest of the show made up for it by expanding the show space compared to previous years. With more space and fewer people it made appreciating the cars on display even better.
Boy, there were some great cars to admire too. While other shows have an emphasis on classic cars or racing cars, The Quail has always been a melting pot of new and old. In one section you could see some of the most glamorous sports cars from the 60s and 70s while a few metres away were some of the best and brightest modern cars.
The new cars that get announced at The Quail is definitely one of the most exciting things about this event. In previous years manufactures have chosen to debut some of their most exciting models here and 2021’s show was no different. Lamborghini, Acura, Automobili Pininfarina, Lotus, Rimac, Bugatti, Bentley and Audi among others showed off their newest models here.
With two years between shows there were plenty of new cars to catch up on. Some of the personal highlights for me were the cars at the Bugatti stand, especially the Bolide. A track-ready weapon, Bugatti plans to make 40 of these insane looking cars once all the Chirons have been produced. While the concept car had 1341kW the production version will only have to make do with a modest 1176kW. That puts it on par with the bright green car next to it; the Chiron Super Sport. It’s a more toned down version of the limited edition Super Sport 300+ that broke the 300 mph (480 km/h) record in 2019. Don’t worry though, the Super Sport will still do a claimed 437 km/h. That’ll do I think. Finally completing the Bugatti trio was a gorgeous blue/gold Chiron Pur Sport. Are these cars completely unnecessary? Sure but that doesn’t make them any less awesome. We should celebrate these cars now while we can with the clock ticking on internal combustion engines. Some have expressed disappointment in Bugatti making so many different models but I’m all for them putting that incredible W16 engine in everything. Heck, put it in a VW Golf.
A W16 Golf would still be less controversial than the new Countach, by far the most controversial debut at this year’s Quail. A bold move by Lamborghini to bring back an iconic nameplate, the first time they’ve done this in their near 60 year history. The Countach having a strong cult following it had big shoes to fill. It’d be like calling your child Jesus or Gandhi. The homage was meant to commemorate the Countach’s 50 year anniversary and only 112 examples will be built. All have been sold out of course. The Countach uses the same underpinnings as the even more exclusive Sian hybrid supercar. That means Lamborghini’s fantastic 6.5-litre V12 mated with a supercapacitor making for a very un-hybrid like 588kW. So it’s got the go but has it got the show? That seems to be where most of the controversy is focused on. Personally I think it looks good and while it doesn’t have the purity and simplicity of the original Countach, it’s a nice enough modern homage. It needs to be in a bright colour though.
On the Acura stand were a pair of NSX but not the one that we know of. These were the Type S, the swan song for the NC1 generation supercar. For the 2022 model year all NSX produced will be the Type S and once all 350 have been made that’s it. A short lived hybrid supercar experiment by Honda that was misunderstood but ahead of its time. I like the NSX a lot and I’ll miss it but I understand why Honda, erm, Acura decided to pull the plug so soon with sales dwindling. Incredibly there’s been plenty of interest for the 300 units for the US market, though who knows if all that interest will turn into sales.
Other new models that the public hadn’t seen since their release including the new Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo, a raised EV wagon based on the Taycan. Another new VAG car was the Audi Skysphere Concept, a sort of wheelbase extending GT roadster that hints at an all electric, autonomous future from Audi. Koenigsegg showed the Jesko Absolut and Gemera, though it was curious why they showed the display Jesko rather than the production version which they revealed a few months prior. Lotus had their newest model, the Emira, making its North American debut. Lotus is banking a lot on this car, their first new sports car in over a decade. Shown next to the Evija, the brand’s flagship EV hypercar, the family resemblance is certainly there. Curiously, also on the Lotus stand was the Radford Type 62-2, a modern take on the Lotus Type 62 racing car. It’s a coach-built car using existing Lotus technology, including the 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine, and only 62 examples of these will be built.
Speaking of hypercars Rimac showed their Nevera model, a 1470kW EV. Essentially the production version of the Concept Two, this marks the shift towards big power EVs. Coincidentally Automobili Pininfarina showed the production version of their Batista hypercar, which is based on the Nevera. On the more old school side of things the dark green McLaren P1 HDK was also another highlight.
If we keep going back in time to the classics there wasn’t a short supply at The Quail either. From Mercedes 300SL Gullwings to Jaguar E-Types, Bugatti Type 57s and Ford GT40s, there was a classic for everyone. Even more obscure cars like the Citroen SM, Renault 5 Turbo and Monteverdi Tai 650 F1 car were on show. Of course the original Countach had to be represented here too.
What made The Quail great was as well as the great cars, food, drink, atmosphere, weather, and scenery were the people. After two years it was great catching up with everyone in the automotive space. A day out in the sun with plenty of incredible metal around, what’s not to like? Here’s hoping next year will be bigger and better and more people from overseas will be back.
In the meantime have a look through the gallery from the 2021 show.