Highlights From the Pebble Beach Concept Car Lawn
Highlights From the Pebble Beach Concept Car Lawn
Pebble Beach’s Concours d’Elegance is world-famous for the collection of automobiles of the past displayed on the lawn behind The Lodge. In marked contrast, on the lawn in front of The Lodge is a gathering of concept cars aimed directly at the future. Names like Bentley and Bugatti carryover, while others such as Pagani and Karma are new. We will take you on a stroll of the concours’ Concept Car Lawn.
Bentley celebrated its first 100 years at Pebble Beach in 2019 and gave a peek into the next 100. Appropriately called the EXP 100 GT, Bentley says we might expect such a vehicle in 2035. This means a look to the environment with sustainable materials in concert with advanced technology. Prisms, fiber optics and artificial intelligence provide proper sunlight in the car. Bentley claims air curation “allows you to enjoy the fragrances of the natural world.” Adaptive wheels compensate for rough roads. You could choose between guiding the EXP 100 GT yourself or turning that task over to autonomous driving.
You’d have to dig deep into your wallet for this one. Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire (“the black car”) has a price sticker of $18.6 million. It is a one-off and celebrates the automaker’s 110th anniversary. Based on the Bugatti Chiron and done in carbon fiber, the design pays homage to the famed Type 57 of the past. Naturally, it has the company’s four-turbo W-16 engine with 1,479 horsepower and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. Who bought it? One rumor says Ferdinand Piech, the former head of Volkswagen who recently passed away.
BMW dipped into its past for the fundamentals of its Vision M NEXT concept car — back to the BMW M1 production machine and the BMW Turbo show car. That color on the front and rear, called Thrilling Orange, is from the Turbo. Cool as the exterior may be, the drive system matches it. Called Power PHEV, it has front and rear motors and offers 4- or rear-wheel drive in pure electric mode with a range of 62 miles. There is also the rear-drive hybrid mode, matching the motors to a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for a total of 600 horsepower. That combo will scoot you to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and continue to 186 mph.
Karma’s SCI Vision Concept is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). It has Level 4 fully autonomous ability thanks to eight radars, six lidar sensors and six external cameras. It’s no surprise that it features 5G connectivity in its “infotainment architecture.” Controls are displayed via curved screens ahead of the driver and passenger with OLED touch screens in the door panels for controlling climate and seating positions. Imagine that in one of the vintage cars on the concours display field!
Match McLaren and GT and your mind drifts to twisty roads and track time. That works for the new McLaren GT, but the automaker points out this one is also designed for long-distance journeys with luggage plus a golf bag or even two pairs of skis and boots. This automaker with its racing background hasn’t forgotten its roots. In the back is a 612-horsepower, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 and a 7-speed transmission. Should the temptation arise while touring, you can zip to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.
If you’re looking for a supercar to drive to dinner or the store, this isn’t it. Ford and Multimatic have developed the Ford GT Mk II to be a track-only car. They’ve taken the lessons learned in the Ford GT’s successful racing history and applied them to the street machine. That means aerodynamics and engine upgrades. The former includes a new rear wing, front splitter and diffuser, new fender louvers and dive planes providing a 400 percent increase in downforce. Plus, the Mk II’s turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 has 200 more horsepower than the race car. That should be enough for fun on the track once you’ve paid $1.2 million for one of the 45 that will be produced.
Acura kept things a bit conservative at Pebble compared to the other concepts, but the good news is that it’s a new automobile in a world becoming ever more truck-conscious. And Acura rarely pops with a concept that is wildly different than its upcoming production version. This one, the Type S concept, has a decidedly rear-drive look, and we’re told there is a new turbo V-6 coming soon. You can see hints of the mid-engine NSX in the Type S design, nicely aggressive with 21-inch wheels outside of Brembo brakes.
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It’s no secret electric cars are the future and here is one from an automaker with a famous past: Lotus. They call their all-electric hypercar Evija and the aim is 2,000 horsepower. That figure would make it the most powerful automobile ever. Production is slated for 2020 for what Lotus calls its “Project 130.” Appropriately, only 130 examples will be assembled in the automaker’s traditional factory in Hethel, England. Lotus claims a 200+ mph top speed and a range — presumably at a lower speed — of 250 miles.
Given its exterior graphics, it’s no surprise that the name of this Lamborghini Aventador is the SVJ 63 Roadster. Said to be the most exclusive Aventador built, its 730 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque from the V-12 engine will take it to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and then on to 217 mph. While the car on the Concept Lawn was finished in matte grey Grigio Acheso, Lamborghini’s personalization program gives the buyer many options. We assume that means eliminating the number 63 on its sides, but never subduing the ever-aggressive styling of the Aventador.
Horacio Pagani’s automobiles are powerful enough as they are, but how about the Huayra Roadster BC: “a street-legal hypercar wholeheartedly devoted to the track.” The BC weighs 2,685 pounds — easy work for its Mercedes-AMG 36-valve, 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 with 791 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque that ranges from 2000 to 5600 rpm. That is mated to a 7-speed sequential gearbox. Pagani will create 40 Huayra Roadster BCs, the tab for each being around $3.5 million.
It’s a long and confused story from the 1960s, but then the characters were, after all, Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby. The result was one car, the Peter Brock-designed DeTomaso P70, now a museum piece. Hearkening back to it is the new DeTomaso, the P72. It pays homage to the bygone years with modern updates. Do we see a hint of Ferrari 330 P3/4 in it? Underneath that form is an all-carbon fiber chassis. Matching its name, only 72 of the new DeTomasos will be assembled.
Dipping into history and pointing it toward the future, Volkswagen created the ID. BUGGY. This combines the shape of the classic dune buggy–which was based on VW Beetle mechanics — with a modular electric drive matrix (MEB). That houses a 62 kWh lithium-ion battery under the floor to power a 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque electric motor out back. Being an electric motor, all the torque is ready from 0 rpm. The rest is a modern interpretation of what Californians saw cruising the roads back in the 1960s and 1970s. The Fern Green body seems to hover over the Grey Tech Blue underbody. We know it has digital instruments, but wish it also had an 8-track tape player.
John Lamm worked for Road & Track for 37 years and is equally happy behind a keyboard or a camera. He has written ten automotive books and has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy award and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor award for writing. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades.