The US economy tanking, cost of fuel going through the roof, banks failing left and right, government bailing out big names, massive layoffs, rampant inflation, threats of deflation and bear markets were all worries for the ordinary working blokes.
However, the Pebble Beach Concours (a triple digit cost to enter!) was packed with thousands of admirers as usual. The golf course was full of cars, with their owners and staff scurrying around their priceless metal, spraying them down with high dollar compounds and wiping off those last bits of dust. On the outside, people were giving interviews on TV about the hardships they face purchasing gasoline at $4 per gallon. On the inside, a crowd was gathering at the ‘Class S’ lineup, watching and listening as a video crew filmed one of the entrants firing up his Rolls-Royce Phantom II.
Some of you maybe wondering why the crowd, film crew and Jay Leno himself were so enamoured by a lowly Phantom II and its 7.7-litre six cylinder. This was the 20+ litre class. Some intelligent bloke (less familiar with ‘Why?’ and more familiar with ‘Why not?’) had acquired a war surplus Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 from a retired P-51 Mustang and installed it in his Phantom II. A writer more gifted than I termed it ‘to give literal meaning to the flying lady on the grille’. P-51 Mustangs equipped with a Merlin could make almost vertical climbs, such was the power output. I would like to point out that a Phantom II weighs significantly less than a P-51 Mustang. I immediately asked ‘average kithna?’ and the answer was 400 litres per hour! Along with the 20+ litre class, this year’s Pebble also showcased 100 years of General Motors (there were the futuristic cars from Harley Earl’s Motorama) and a special section on V16s (gasoline prices? Ha!). Anyway, the next issue of BSM will have a report on these.