While BMW wasn't celebrating a major anniversary this year, it chose the Pebble Beach week to unveil its brand new M4 Coupe, acknowledging the importance of the US market for the car and the brand.
The company also celebrated its rich motorsport history with a pair of factory racers run by BMW North America in the Rolex Motorsports Reunion. Furthermore, the Pebble Beach Concours even celebrated one of the company's most beautiful creations, the 507 Roadster, with a special display.
1975 BMW 3.0 CSL
The 3.0L CSL took the motorsport world by storm. With output ranging between 700-900hp, depending on how generous the engineers were feeling that weekend, the CSL became renowned for its on-track accomplishments as well as the start of a series of "Art Cars." Drenched in paint by some of the most talented artists of the day, the CSL stole the show, winning the IMSA GT championship in 1975 thanks to drivers Sam Posey, Brian Redman and Ronnie Peterson.
With two CSLs competing in the Reunion, sadly a privately entered car was a little eager as the green flag dropped and suffered an off-track collision. The "factory" car, driven by BMW NA CEO Ludwig Willisch, stayed out of trouble and finished the race.
1979 BMW M1 Procar
Regarded as BMW's only dip into the supercar pool, the M1 was an instant collector car and you'd be hard pressed to find a street version for less than $1 million.
The M1 Procar was a high-profile one-make series that supported the F1 races at each European round. It only lasted two seasons before BMW focused all its efforts on Formula One. With high-revving six-cylinder engines, widebody fenders and the big rear wing, the Procar is unmistakable and not to be missed.
2014 BMW M4
A surprise showing ahead of the four-door M3 that will arrive first, BMW chose Pebble Beach week as the opportunity to unveil its new M4 Coupe Concept. We're assured this is 90% of the production model, with all the detailing appearing to be production ready - items like the carbon-sleeved exhaust tail pipes probably won't make it but this is essentially the 2015 M4.
While specification wasn't discussed, we're reliably informed it will be a 450hp six-cylinder twin-turbo based on the N55 with a DCT transmission. There is debate over whether a manual option will be offered but it appears to have a 70% chance at present. See our online "M4 Rumors" story for more details.
2013 BMW HP4
While Pebble Beach is all about four-wheeled transport, there are a few motorcycles around and we managed to throw a leg over a future classic during our visit. The BMW HP4 is a limited edition based on the S1000RR superbike. Only 175 are in the country and we had the opportunity to wreck two of them - with a deer almost taking care of that!
Priced from $20525, it gets the same 193hp as the bike it's based on but an Akrapovic exhaust ensures it's delivered with more mid-range and an ungodly sound. We also found the power delivery velvet-smooth, with no hesitation, even at low RPM.
Finished in its Racing blue and white paint scheme, the suspension was pretty stiff for the very poorly paved roads we threw the bikes down. Even the Dynamic Damping Control was unable to compensate for the harsh bumps. But the reward was one of the sharpest turning bikes we've experienced and surprisingly user-friendly for such an uncompromising machine.
It comes with the option of ABS and adjustable traction control but a number of carbon fiber pieces are standard fitment.
Since we were attending the swanky Pebble Beach week and riding such an extraordinary machine, we decided to splash out on some new riding gear so we didn't look out of place.
Preferring Alpinestars over almost anybody else, we went with the new perforated Jaws leather jacket and low-cut S-MX1 boots. Offering good protection for high-speed riding, they were also very well ventilated for high summer temps. Add to this the Axiom denim pants with knee and hip protection plus SP8 gloves and we looked smart both on and off the bike. Check out our gear review at europeancarweb.com for a guide to Alpinestars' cool threads to keep you cool.
1957 BMW 507 Series II
First produced in 1955, the 507 embodied the highest standards of design, construction and performance. The brainchild of Max Hoffman, designed by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz, the 507 roadster has became known as the most beautiful in the company's history. Powered by a 3.2L V8, they were potent in their day and while they're a rare sight on public roads, we were happy that the concours organizers had procured the finest selection in the nation.
Best of Show
1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria
The owners of this remarkable automobile now have two Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance trophies for Best of Show. Their first was awarded to a 1939 Horch 852A Special Roadster by Erdmann & Rossi back in 2004.
And while that was a fine machine, this 2013 winning Packard is the epitome of American design and grace from the 1930s. In fact, it even won over the European judges who acknowledged its importance in putting the company on the map.
While many Packard Twelve models left the assembly line with factory coachwork, a few would leave with options that included items such as the teardrop fenders and dual rear-mounted spares that appear here.
The owners (Joseph and Maggie Cassini) discovered the car in boxes three years ago. After more than 10,000 hours preparing it for Pebble Beach, it thoroughly deserved the fireworks, crystal trophy and tears of joy.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider
The story goes that Steve McQueen crashed his own NART Spider and attempted to buy this example while awaiting its repair. Fortunately, the owner rejected the offer and, as one of ten built, his NART crossed the block for $25million ($27million once the buyer's premium was factored in). The auction included several minutes of heated exchanges, with bids rising in $1million increments until the hammer fell.
While some may shudder at the thought of such an obscene amount of money paid for a car, the crowd inside the RM Auction room was cheering the bidders as history was being made for such a car.
1997 McLaren F1
Possibly the only modern supercar sold in the '90s that will make money today, the Gordon Murray-designed sports car had a 627hp BMW V12 engine and still demands attention on the road today.
With only 106 constructed, including several racing versions, Gooding & Co managed to procure chassis #66 to roll across the block, giving the throttle a few prods to get the bidders' paddles wagging.
This particular F1 set a world record for any McLaren sold at auction, reaching $8.47million (after buyer's premium). Bear in mind, the last F1 to cross the block sold for more than $3million a few years ago.
1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster by Carrosserie J Saoutchik
Awarded Best in Show at last year's Pebble Beach Concours, the Mercedes would cross the stage for a very different reason - to be auctioned.
While the owners are probably still finding confetti stuck between the seats of this award-winning car, it was time for a new owner to enjoy it.
Despite its 6789cc engine, it whispered past the audience and onto the stage. With streamlined bodywork by Saoutchik, the two-tone grey body with red underbody was radical in its day and fetched an astronomical $8.25million.
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
It's hitting the roads faster than any other hybrid hypercar on the market. And even though Ferrari continues to secretly shuttle LaFerrari around the globe, and the McLaren P1 runs around on public roads; Porsche decided to remind everybody at Pebble Beach, "We did it first." Thankfully the 918 Spyder still knew how to draw a crowd. The car first seen a few years ago was considered a radical departure for the brand but somehow now looks tame and refined compared to recent hypercars hitting the market.
2013 Lamborghini Veneno
Debuting at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, the Veneno was one of two acid-trip creations that got the world talking. What seemed to be inspired by a Le Mans prototype racecar is, in reality, an extremely limited production supercar that will retail for $4 million.
Considering the company has only made four examples, all of which are sold, it was magnificent to actually see the Veneno in person. Its alien surfaces and F1 wings somehow work in harmony as Lamborghini has created the perfect poster material for the next generation of enthusiasts to hang on their walls.
Aston Martin CC100
To help kick off its centenary, Aston Martin introduced a concept inspired by the legendary 1959 Le Mans-winning DBR1. Powered by a naturally aspirated, hand-built V12, the CC100 harnesses the spirit and power that have stood the test of time.
The car is a bespoke creation using the very best materials and technology while paying homage to the past with details like its hand-stitched leather door straps and accent pieces.