The first leg takes us inland through Carmel Valley, and its numerous vineyards. I’d like to say I remember details about the scenery, but the truth is, it was a blur. I was far too smitten, like a clumsy teenager on a first date.
There is so much to marvel at with the Ferrari 250 GTO. That it’s one of the great all-time shapes in automotive history is well established. No compromises were made in its styling as a purpose-built race car, and yet it is, unusually for a race car, beautiful. The view forward from the cockpit across the bonnets triple bulges is mesmerising.
The real revelation, however, is how apparently docile and manageable the whole experience can be. Nick Mason once famously commented that in the midst of a cruel winter, when none of his normally dependable daily fleet would start, his GTO willingly performed school-run duties in the snow. There is no sign whatsoever of high-temperament or drama, just a calm and very characterful efficiency.
Needless to say, as the valley roads headed up towards the hills of the Santa Lucia Coastal Mountains, the GTO now had a chance to really stretch its legs through the winding passes. Incredible roads, snaking high through the mountains, and the cabin is soon filled with smiles – two guys from London re-enacting the Targa Florio in California!
We drop down through the mist into Lucia, and lunch at a stunning Pacific-side spot called Point 16. The homemade lemonade is a welcome coolant – we’re both drenched in sweat. Delicious food is served al-fresco by the Pacific Ocean, and we’re treated to the awe-inspiring sight of a Californian Condor being released into the wild, its ten foot wingspan propelling it skyward with ease.
The opportunity seemed almost too good to be true.
Lunch over, and one final, magnificent highlight remains. The drive north up Pacific Highway 1, and Big Sur. I hope my photographs have done justice to the combined majesty of the GTO and California’s epic Pacific stretch. The opportunity seemed almost too good to be true.
And so, there it is – truly the experience of a lifetime. The Ferrari 250 GTO returns to its temporary subterranean home, and preparation for its Sunday meeting on Pebble Beach’s manicured lawns with twenty of the thirty nine GTOs manufactured in all. Amongst their number, chassis 3729, the very car that Graham Hill had piloted to second in the Goodwood TT. Hill, despite his best efforts, failing to grasp victory from Innes Ireland in the pale green winner. Fifty years later – the legend remains undimmed.
My heartfelt thanks to Eric, and to Sir Michael Kadoorie, the organiser of this fine event.