News & Stories

The Revs Institute at Monterey Car Week: Classic Cars and Vivid Memories

August 25, 2017 Events, In the News, Racing

MONTEREY, Calif. — The Mors took second place in its show class. The Abarth Simca staged a remarkable race despite a series of mechanical challenges. The Porsche 906 Carrera performed well on the track until it was sidelined in a motoring mishap.

That’s a quick synopsis of how the Collier Collection cars from The Revs Institute fared during last week’s Monterey Car week. Three cars made the trek west from Naples: the Mors 1908 Grand Prix car for display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the Abarth and Porsche Carrera for the Rolex Reunion races of historic cars at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway.

Getting to Monterey was the easy part. All three cars faced challenges during the week — including, for the Mors, the simple act of starting its engine on the show field. The car’s massive 12.5-liter engine (not untypical for early racers) can be touchy to start in chilly conditions, such as the mist-laden post-dawn hours on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway alongside Monterey Bay.

“We anticipated a possible rough cold start in the 55-60 degree temperatures, and you must start the car for the judges close to 8:30 a.m.,” says Scott George, Revs Institute vice president. “But the car started on its first hand pull.”

That afternoon — last Sunday, Aug. 20 — the Mors started again (whew!) for the drive across the Pebble Beach stage ramp to collect its second place award in the Concours’ Open Wheel Racing Class. First-in-class went to another early French car: the 1907 Renault AI Vanderbilt Racer owned by Robert Kauffman of Charlotte, N.C.

Meanwhile the previous morning, over at Laguna Seca, Revs’ Porsche 906 Carrera was bumped by another car during a morning qualifying race. “This incident was avoidable and damaged original Porsche parts that are no longer available,” says George. While vigorous competition is fine, “historic racing should be about sharing special cars in a special venue where the cars themselves are the stars.”

That was the case the previous weekend with the Revs Abarth Simca 2000 GT. The late Carlo Abarth specialized in taking ordinary small cars, mostly Fiats but occasionally others, and converting them into race-worthy pocket rockets. On Sunday Aug. 13, the first weekend of the Rolex Reunion races, driver Gunnar Jeanette drove the Abarth Simca from a 28th place start to a fifth-place finish, while the track announcers slipped into verbal overdrive to praise the car’s performance.

The Abarth Simca is a fast but fragile car, and in the ensuing days it had a series of mechanical problems culminating in a broken transaxle that knocked it out of action. Still, George’s fondest memory of the week was “seeing the delight on Gunnar’s face” after his Aug. 13 ride, he explains, adding: “To see it driven so well and so quickly is an experience one does not get to witness often.”

We asked some other members of the Revs team to share their best memories of Monterey Car Week, and here are some of their replies:

John Lamm, contributing editor. “I love the one day in the week when I do nothing but photograph race cars (at Laguna Seca). There’s Turn 11 as they brake hard for that corner then swoop out onto the front straight. There’s the famous Corkscrew with at least four camera angles. And I love it as they slide through Turn 6 and provide a long lens shot as they rush up toward the Corkscrew. I’ve never worn earplugs, as my wife can attest!”


Keith Grey, technician and photographer. Amid the pomp-and-presentation of last Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance, “I somehow attracted a lonely dog that kept leaving her owners and following me. Her name was Sadie, the same as my dog that died two years ago. It was sort of like Sadie coming back to visit me.”

Mike Fiala, photographer/videographer. If the Concours d’Elegance can be self-important, the surefire antidote is the previous day’s Concours d’Lemons in nearby Seaside, Calif. The free-of-charge Concours d’LeMons proudly bills itself as “an oil stain” on the exclusive events of the week. “Hoopties, rust buckets, misfits and mistakes” all competed for the much-coveted ‘Worst of Show’ award. Categories of cars included Rust Belt American Junk, Swedish Meatballs, Needlessly Complex Italian and everything in between. This year\s Lemons featured new, larger venue and the addition of the Lemons Rally, a five-day road trip through Washington State, Oregon and California. Though the week’s more prestigious auto events are nothing less than spectacular, the informal, easy-going spirit of the LeMons made it my favorite to attend.


Paul Ingrassia, editor-in-chief. I love the Carmel Mission Classic, aka the Blessing of the Cars, in the courtyard of the historic church where Fr. Junipero Sera did his missionary work. There’s something uplifting about the remarks of Catholic Bishop Richard Garcia invoking cars as things that bring people together before sprinkling them with holy water. It was distilled holy water, to be sure, to protect the finishes on the sacred automotive artifacts on display.


Johnny Miles, contributing editor. In addition to the Concours itself, one of my favorite parts of Monterey Car Week is seeing the array of million-dollar hypercars that descend on the peninsula. Unless you live in London or Dubai, you don’t often come across Koenigseggs, Paganis and Bugattis casually cruising or parked the street. This year, I was even able to finagle a short ride in a Pagani Huayra, which was as loud as it was memorable. The owner explained how the car was designed to feel like a jet fighter at speed. Although that analogy is bit of a cliché, in the case of the Huayra, it felt accurate.


11 Responses

  1. Bob Anderson

    Great photography! My favorite week of the year. Thanks for covering some of the other events that take place in this magical area of our great country.

  2. Raymond Barton

    I’ve been to the Amelia Island Concours, but, I simply must make it at least once to Monterey. I saw some REVS cars at Amelia. Yall are so nice to go to the effort to bring your beautiful and historic cars to these events. You’ll never know how happy you make people. Many thanks.

  3. Stan Fowler

    We were there also – saw your cars at the races. Usually go to the race track instead of the Concours Sunday, although I go to the tour and show in Carmel – don’t remember the MORS there.
    Feel like you are family-have been to the Naples institute 6-7 times in the last few years – a regular stop when car friends visit. Thanks for taking the cars on the road to share with others!

  4. Robert J. Thomson

    One of these years I’ll make it out to the West Coast to see this array of fine cars!! For now
    I have the Revs Institute in Naples to see some of the best!! Great job in write up and photography!! Thank You!!

  5. robert lamson

    Been going to Pebble Beach for 25+ years. Weather awesome. Fastest
    5 days I have ever spent on a vacation. Lots of good friends. And great
    cars from REVS.

  6. Bill Lupien

    Great articles. All that the REVS institute does is so great for those of us who love automobiles and their history. I hope to visit again soon.

  7. Björn Johansson

    Thank you for great coverage of a fantastic event. Nice to see that your cars are not just static exhibits.

  8. Alberto Maurício Caló

    The Simca Abarth has a very special history in Brazil
    In 1958 Simca started the production of the Simca Chambord in Brazil a four door sedan with an ancient V-8 engine inherited from a Ford factory in France
    Simca do Brasil was keen to prove the capabilities of this car and set a racing team to race this heavy body-on-chassis sedan
    So the Simcas started to contest a new class for brazilian built touring cars where they enjoyed some success in the early sixties
    But soon they were outclassed by purpose-built brazilian sportscars like the Willys Interlagos (brazilian version of the Alpine A-108) , Porsche engined Karmann-Guias, etc
    So the Simca team had the bright idea of import three Simca Abarths 2000 from Italy chassis 136/0080
    0085 and 0090.
    In Brazil they just added a “Simca do Brasil” badge to the cars.
    Imported in a timely basis they soon generated protests amongst the other teams.
    The Simca race manager was famous brazilian race driver Chico Landi
    The Simca Abarths in Brazil proved reliable and fast winning almost every race they entered in the 1964/1965 seasons
    Is necessary to say that the cars were so superior that Landi pointed a rev-limit far below the actual redline of the 2 liter, 202 bhp engine
    The sad history is that brazilian customs ordered the cars back to Italy due to the expiration of their license to be kept in Brazil.
    Worse, the cars arrived in Italy without papers and were retained in the port for a long time ( in Brazil there was a gossip that the cars were throw into the sea)
    In fact none remained in Brazil
    And they became a legend for generations of brazilian automobile
    When I first saw one at the Revs Institute the tears almost came to my eyes by admiring – at last – the real thing , the unbeatable Simca Abarth

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