Upstairs is the museum’s race display and displays of some of the more modern cars. One notable vintage racer was the “Million Franc” 1937 Delahaye Type 145 V12 Grand Prix, so named because it was driven to victory by Rene Dreyfus in the Grand Prix de Pau in 1938. The prize was a million francs.
Across the hall from the race display are examples of modern cars, one of which is this Bugatti EB 16/4 Veyron. On close examination it becomes clear this is not your “run-of-the-mill” Veyron (note the five-speed manual shifter with dogleg reverse). Turns out this is the pre-production prototype first shown in 1999, the very first of its kind.
After spending about an hour ogling the museum, we hit the road again, this time aiming for picturesque Solvang. My ride for this leg was the Alpina Z8. This car is a special tuned version of the limited-run BMW Z8, with a punched-out 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V8 making 375 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The engine was fully built by Alpina and features special internals including pistons, conn rods, cams, valves, intake manifold, and exhaust. This power unit is connected to a five-speed Switchtronic automatic transmission (also with reinforced internals), which features push buttons integrated on the Alpina steering wheel for manual control over the gears (left side for downshift, right side for upshift).
I had never even driven a “normal” Z8 before, so this was a special treat. The car has an unmistakable muscle-car bark on ignition and rumbles around at low speeds like an offshore outlaw boat. At full throttle the exhaust note is absolutely drool-inspiring.
We reached our destination, the Wine Valley Inn, in time to see the sun go down behind the quaint tourist magnet of Solvang, with its Danish-inspired architecture and row upon row of shops, eateries and bakeries. Parking was a little tight as you can see, but we made do.
Later that night, we dined on steak and red wine at the historic Santa Maria Inn in nearby Santa Maria.
Today, it’s onward to Carmel Valley and one step closer to our destination at Pebble Beach. Stick around for updates!