Lake Forest Concours D’Elegance 2017

    When some folks want to describe a large gathering in a way that conveys massive scale and reverence, they typically refer to it as a “Mecca”.  It has been used to the point of being cliche, so when I attended this past weekend’s Lake Forest Concourse D’Elegance held at Lake Forest Sports Cars, I wanted to search for a better and more fitting way to convey the event.  To say this show was a Mecca would not suffice, and the more deserving metaphor lies just 20 miles to the south of the show, the B’hai Temple.  The B’hai is one of the seven wonders of the world, and stands as a unifying presence to humanity.  All faiths and beliefs are welcomed to the B’hai, and are free to worship as they see fit among the beautiful architecture and gardens that surround the temple.  The Lake Forest Concourse D’Elegance similarly, attracted petrolheads of all walks of life and from all of the various flavors of autmotive enthusiast.  The wonders of the world  here; some of the rarest, most advanced, and most awe inspring vehicles that have ever been produced.  The large crowd of spectators was filled with people who made the pilgrimage from all over the area, and judging by the cars that lined the road to the show and parking areas along the way, it was a crowd quite initiated in the ways of the car.  All manner of enthusiast-oriented chariots surrounded the event, crammed in the available lots and lining the roadways up to the venue.  From high end makes like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, to the more accesible Fords, Mazdas, Chevy’s and so on, the entire area was abuzz with the most delightful of four wheeled joyrides. The venue for this great gathering, Lake Forest Sports Cars, is a huge dealer of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Aston Martin’s, Mclaren’s, and any other automotive exotica that may tickle your fancy.  Their large showroom is already packed with enough precious metal to be a car show in it’s own right, so when they open up their grounds to all of the area’s automotive best and brightest, amazing things show up.  The volume of incredibly valuable and incredibly unique vehicles on hand was staggering.  A Koengisegg One:1, one of only seven in the world fittingly enough.  A Pagani Huayra, an incredible piece of art in machine form, spearheaded by a man named Horacio who could easily fill-in as Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world”.  Not one of Ferrari’s latest Opus, the LaFerrari, but multiple!  An Aston Martin Zagato, an excersise in taking an already exclusive and beautiful V12 Vanquish and make it exceedingly more exclusive and beautiful, were all just some of the many precious gems on hand.  A confession, I was genuinely overwhelmed by the show.  It wasn’t just the record breaking heat, the massive crowds, or the Doughnut Vault truck calling out to me, but it was the sheer scale of the event.  I made my best effort, but admittedly fell well short of snapping even close to the majority of what was on hand, and well short of my own typical expectation, my apologies.  However, there were a few that easily stood out for me, and here are some of those highlights! 

     Ferrari has made a tradition of designing a car in each generation, that is an example of not just the fastest Ferrari can build, but the aspiration of being the fastest anyone can build.  At the Lake Forest Concourse D’Elegance, we were treated to every iteration of just that, with the F40, F50, Enzo, and LaFerrari all on hand and lined up as if for military style inspection.  To me, the darling of the bunch was the F40, I was transfixed.  Perhaps it’s the styling, I am a hopeless sucker for the 80’s look, and sleek frame is peppered with boxy angles and wedges.  Perhaps it is the raw simplicity of the car, a light weight tub chassis mated to a fire breathing V8 with a pair of turbochargers increasing it’s ferocity.  Perhaps it is the legacy, the mythical nature of it being the last car commissioned by the father of Ferrari, Enzo himself.  Maybe it is because it feels like a pioneer of a car, a one-off built with the goal of ultimate speed and nothing more.  Sure it was technically preceded by the 288 GTO, but that seems more to me like a modified and enhanced version of a car Ferrari already made, just so they could take it racing.  The F40 feels to me like it was something entirely new, a raw machine with the sole purpose of being the fastest they could make.  The F50, the Enzo and the LaFerrari today, all carry that same torch, and perhaps even that makes it seem even more special to me, it was the start of a tradition. 

     Pagani is a fascinating car company, the brain child of a man who had years of experience making carbon fiber components, and working with Lamborghini for their needs in that department.  If you have ever seen an interview with Horacio Pagani, there is an unquestionable charm about the man, and he appears as intriguing and unique as the cars his namesake company produce.  His cars look like something from a movie set, so other worldly, you would only expect to see them on the silver screen set in a world 100 years in the future…on Mars.  There is an artfulness to the design, details that seem to be included simply for the purpose of adding beauty.  However, no detail was frivolous, and as extravagant and artful as the design may seem, it is all functional and engineered to the highest degree.  As you would expect from a man who mastered the art of composites, there is copious amounts of carbon fiber…well, it is virtually all carbon fiber.  I regret that I am woefully short on photos, the car was such a spectacle I literally could not get a clear shot in the time I had.  Who could blame the crowd for gathering as the Huayra sat flaunting all of it’s naked carbon fiber glory.  The sunlight dancing off the intricate weaves of carbon, like spider webs appearing incredibly delicate but possessing incredible strength.  The Huayra’s carefully woven web of a body is alive as well, able to alter it’s shape to adapt it’s aerodynamics for whatever the driving situation calls for.  It’s fender mounted wing mirrors reach out from the body like some alien creature’s tentacles, and you can almost hear it calmly inhaling and exhaling through that large gaping grill.  For now the Huayra sleeps, absorbing the heat of mid day sun, perhaps next time I’ll get a chance to see it awake and unleash it’s monstrous roar. 

     Italy and Germany hold the lion’s share of reputation for ultra high performance automobiles, but there is a mad genius that hails from Sweden who set out to snatch away a bit of that legacy for himself and his company; Koenigsegg.  If you are like me, you may have first discovered the existance of this oddball company watching episodes of Top Gear; delighting in watching the Stig thrash it on the test course, and chuckling when the lap time was posted to the board with about 14 too many letters added to the name.  What started as a young upstart, limited production super car maker, has today progressed into a pioneering powerhouse that aims to push the automotive world to new horizons.  The man behind the car, Christian Von Koengigsegg, can be described as a visionary genius without a hint of hyperbole. He has constantly pursued highly imaginative and highly innovative technologies to attempt creating a car that transcends all other cars.  The culmination of this relentless push by Koenigsegg, is the birth of a new category beyond super car, the “mega car”.  The One:1 is that proclaimed mega car, boasting a one to one horsepower to weight ratio (1hp per 1kg), and a power output of 1 megawatt (around 1360hp), thus the mega car and One:1 titles were born.  While the naming may lack some imagination, the rest of the car and the company do not.  The One:1 employs some of the most advanced applications of carbon fiber/kevlar composites beyond just body panels, variable geometry turbocharger technology, ceramic brakes, and more advanced electrical systems than I can even begin to understand, much less describe.   To say it was a treat to see this machine is a bit of an understatement; there are only 7 in existence and as of this writing I believe this is the only one in the U.S.  Feel free to email me if you also own a One:1 in the U.S., as I will gladly fly out for a test drive to verify it’s existence and retract my statement.  Hey, it’s worth a shot. 

      Aston Martin makes cars that strike me as being a bit un-supercar.  That is not to say they are ordinary machines, or inferior to other super cars, but they strike me as being a bit too polite for their own good at times.  Perhaps it is their British nature, but while other exotic super cars come off as flamboyant, extravagant and audacious like the ones above, Aston Martin progresses with a more stately and dignified manner.  No less extraordinary, and definitely no less beautiful than the rest, but even Aston Martin like to get a bit wild every so often.  The V12 Vanquish Zagato pictured below, is Aston Martin’s way of going a bit mental.  They throw caution to the wind and hand the Vanquish to coach builder Zagato who add even more sex appeal, and perhaps a bit more naughty to the already tantilizing Vanquish.  The result is exquisite, still quite stately and dignified but with a bit more attitude.  It is enough to make me remove my white gloves and give a appropriately audible golf clap, “well done Zagato, well done.” 

     So there you have it, an incredible event that frankly deserved more time than I had to commit this year.  As such, my gallery is hardly an exhaustive display of what was on hand, I can not stress enough that what you see here is but a small sample.  If you missed the show this year, set your reminder for next year now.  If you love cars, and live in the Chicagoland region, the Lake Forest Concourse D’Elegance is really a must-do event and one that is worth traveling for if you aren’t particularly close.  Thanks again for reading, and keep scrolling for more!

-photos and writing: Robert Sixto

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