By Phil Skinner
The roar of mighty engines, and the viewing of some of the most historic, important and valuable cars in the world got started on Tuesday with the Carmel Concours on the Streets taking place in the main shopping district of Carmel-by-the-Sea, with more than 300 hand-picked vehicles lining both sides of the main boulevards in this touristy little town, as well as several side streets.
A totally free event for spectators, the streets were jammed from early morning until well into the late afternoon with everyone trying to get a glimpse of the cars on display. Emcees included noted automotive writer Donald Osborne and radio host Ed Justice, who provided enlightened commentary about many of the cars on display. Full concours-style judging took place as each vehicle shown was a masterpiece onto itself.
Elsewhere on the Peninsula, five different auction houses were preparing for what is expected to be the richest weekend in auction history. Russo & Steele was busy working out the bugs at their new Waterfront location, where all 250 cars consigned for their three-day sale were on display in an outdoor parking lot, quite a welcome change from the enclosed and ofter very dark parking structures Russo has used since its first trip to Monterey back in 2001.
Mecum Auctions was equally busy checking in nearly 700 cars slated for their "Daytime Sale" which will be conducted Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the property of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Monterey. One of the most anticipated lots at Mecum will be the offering of 71 MV Augusta motorcycles in one lot, where estimates are that the final hammer will be well north of the million-dollar mark.
RM Auctions was busy getting their special displayed vehicles ready to the masses expected to arrive on Thursday for an special preview by invitation with many stars in this sale such as the 2001 Bentley prototype Le Mans Racer, a 1961 Fiat model 306 transporter used by Shelby American to transport Cobra race cars to different events, and a Packard Twelve dual-cowl phaeton.
Over in Carmel Valley, Bonhams was getting ready for its open house on Wednesday, prepping all 97 automotive lots slated for the sale was well as several hundred lots of memorabilia just for fun.
Out on the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, Gooding and Company is preparing for a huge sale with the biggest star expected to be the Clark Gable Duesenberg Speedster estimated by some to top the $10 million mark.
In addition, early competitors and vendors were seen pulling into the Mazda Laguna Seca raceway for the Rolex Monterey Motoring Reunion that gets under way officially on Friday, and then the big one, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday.
Want to know where to go and when while in Monterey? Check out our 2012 Travel Guide.