Jun 05, 2023

11 Best Vehicle Debuts at Monterey Car Week, Pebble Beach 2023

After a week of auction wins and losses, car shows and show-car drives, and a whole lot of automotive envy, Monterey Car Week 2023 has come to a close. The winner of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the capstone event which took place on Sunday, is usually considered the champion of the long weekend, with the California concours being the most prestigious car show in the world. But this year’s Best of Show owner, Jim Patterson, is riding higher than most: this is his third win in 14 years.

“In Kentucky, you know, we talk about winning the Derby. Well, there’s such a thing as winning the Triple Crown,” said Patterson, an entrepreneur who founded, among other companies, Long John Silvers. “And so I’ve won this Concours twice before today. This is a Triple Crown for me.”

The beauty that he drove through the white and yellow confetti this year was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, which the concours notes was first owned by the Shah of Afghanistan. Previously, Patterson won in 2015 with a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Worblaufen Cabriolet, and in 2010 with a 1933 Delage D8 S deVillars Roadster.

Being the most estimable car show among all multi-million-dollar automotive extravaganzas around the world, Pebble Beach is by nature exclusionary. Most Americans who consider themselves “car people” probably have never even heard of Isotta Fraschini. But the larger constellation of Monterey Car Week welcomes all marques, even if you call them brands, as evidenced by events like the Concours d’Lemons, which celebrated its 14th anniversary, and the Little Car Show, which brought out both Yugos and Porsches and only allows vehicles under 1,800cc displacement.

Every year, motoring royalty — and their multi-million-dollar masterpieces — convene on the manicured shores of Lake Como

In the auction sphere of the weekend, Hagerty reports that the market is cooling off significantly. Last year in Monterey, there was a 78% sell-through rate of all the cars that hit the block, with a total of close to $473 million in sales; in 2023, the sell-through rate fell to 68%, and the total sales figure dropped to $396.7 million. It’s not all bad news, though: the barely recognizable shell of a famous Ferrari — a rusted husk that a normal person would call the HOA on if they saw it in a front yard — sold for $1.9 million. I think car collectors and auction houses are going to be okay!

For most people, the classic and vintage cars are not the stars, though. Automakers up and down the price spectrum come to the Monterey Peninsula in August to debut their latest and greatest creations. And while auction sales may be down, vehicle debuts are hotter than ever, with Ford, Lamborghini, Acura, Automobili Pininfarina and others pulling the curtain back on SUVs and hypercars alike. Here are the 11 best debuts from Monterey 2023.

Ford believes it finally has a street-legal car that can best anything the European marques have been perfecting for decades, and it’s called the Mustang GTD. They’re calling it a supercar, with the GTD name a reference to a grand touring class of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), and it will start at $300,000. Ford CEO Jim Farley is so confident in this carbon-fiber festooned, 800-plus horsepower monster that he called out just about every competitor by name. “I want to see Porsche, I want to see Aston Martin, I want to see Mercedes sweat,” he said, per Road & Track. “We’re going to compete with them globally.”

Availability: Late 2024 or early 2025. You can register interest here.

It turns out Acura gave us a sneak peek at the ZDX, its first all-electric vehicle, last year at Monterey with the Precision EV Concept. The production SUV hews close to that initial design with lightning-bolt-like accents endcapping what amounts to a standard family hauler through the middle. Much of its engineering will be recognizable, too, as Acura is partnering with GM and using its Ultium battery platform for the ZDX (despite Acura’s parent company being Honda). The EPA range is expected to top out at 325 for a single-motor version of the ZDX A-Spec, which will start around $60,000; a high-performance ZDX Type S model with an estimated 500 horsepower (but lower 288-mile range) was also announced, which will start around $70,000.

Availability: Pre-sales start later in 2023 with first deliveries eyed for early 2024.

You have to be careful with concepts because they don’t always materialize into anything more than a PR boost. After Acura’s 2022 concept turned into the real-life ZDX, it’s worth reading up on their 2023 concept, the Electric Vision. Basically no details were unveiled besides the fact that this design study is for an “all-electric high-performance model,” but it’s being speculated that this supercar (?) could be the highly-anticipated third-generation of the NSX, which was discontinued in 2022.

Availability: TBD

This is it: the first all-electric Lamborghini. The good news is that we’re finally getting a look at what the supercar maker has in store for its first EV. The bad news is that it isn’t set to start production until 2028, so this is still in concept form and could change significantly. In classic Lamborghini fashion, instead of calling this a crossover (which it is), the company is doing away with that pedestrian designation and just coming up with a new name of their own. “We are opening a new car segment: the Ultra GT,” said CEO Stephan Winkelmann. It’s got four seats, cargo space, somewhere in the ballpark of 1,340 horsepower, and a roof height closer to the Urus SUV than the Huracán sports car. But sure, it’s an Ultra GT.

Availability: Production is set for 2028. Learn more here.

Maserati has been busy churning out new electric and gas-powered models, so for Monterey Car Week they decided to keep things limited-edition and exclusive. The new MCXtrema is based on the MC20, but its performance has been maxed out at all levels— meaning, yes, this is a track-only model. Only 62 versions of this 730-horsepower tire-squealer have been made. In a moment of refreshing honesty, Maserati admitted that this car has been made simply for those “who wish to add a new ‘toy’ to their garage.”

Availability: You can learn more here, but you can’t do much more than that. The 62 models are reportedly spoken for.

If you’re one of those people who prefers classic car design but recognizes that we’ve made some pretty important advances in engineering in the last 100 years, then Lotus has the low-volume, track-only vehicle for you. The Type 66 is unique among the crop of debuts this year, as the retro race car is actually based on a “drawing board” model Lotus designed in the late 1960s to compete in the Can-Am Series. It was never actually made, so Lotus apparently decided, what the hell, let’s give it a go now during our 75th anniversary year. Some details still need to be released, like who is making the V8 push-rod engine. But if you want to get your hands on one of the 10 that will be made, you’ll need to inquire now.

Availability: No word on an exact production date, but the price has been set “in excess of £1 million,” or about $1.275 million here in the United States.

You may have already read reviews of the Lotus Eletre, the storied brand’s electric SUV, but it won’t actually be available to U.S. buyers until 2024. As such, Monterey was an important step for the brand as it marked the North American debut of the vehicle. Instead of differentiating itself from the pack by carrying over classic Lotus design elements, this future-looking EV plants itself squarely in the space-age design language we’ve seen from other high-end electric models. With up to 373 miles of range, rapid charging of 74 miles in five minute, and a suite of driver assistance features the brand says will allow it to eventually achieve Level 4 autonomous driving, Lotus is looking for a volume play here. Prices start at £89,500 in the U.K. and €95,990 in Europe, but it’s unclear what the base price will be in the United States.

Availability: 2024 in the U.S. You can configure an Eletre here.

The follow-up to Automobili Pininfarina’s $2 million EV is…a $4.8 EV without a windshield? The B95 — the “B” standing for “barchetta,” essentially an open-topped speedster — is no mere convertible. The electric hypercar is using the same quad-motor design as the previously-announced Battista but swaps that car’s roof and glass for “electronically adjustable aero screens…[that] can be raised and lowered by the client to improve comfort while preserving design integrity.” Done up in a bumblebee paint job with houndstooth and leather interior, this is not for the faint of heart. And that’s okay, because only 10 will be made.

Availability: First deliveries are set to begin in 2025. Register interest here.

Danish supercar manufacturer Zenvo Automotive isn’t quite a household name, but they’re certainly trying to become one with the release of the all-new Aurora Hypercar. The roadgoing model will be available in two versions: Agil (“agile”), a lighter, track-focused car which comes with standard rear-wheel drive; and Tur (“touring”), a faster, more luxurious option that’ll achieve a top speed of 280 mph. Both are powered by a Mahle-developed 6.6-liter quad-turbocharged V12 engine and enhanced by an electric motor (the Tur bumps the number of electric motors to three), which can produce up to 1,850 horsepower. Availability: Production is slated for 2025, with deliveries starting in 2026. Only 50 of each will be made, and they’ll start just less than $4 million before customization. You can learn more here.

Infiniti is ready for its next chapter. Nissan’s luxury brand has a lot of work to do to catch up with the competition, and the QX Monograph concept is the first look at their strategy. Details are scarce, but even from the press release and limited photos, it’s easy to see this SUV is gigantic (or as Infiniti calls it, “confident” and “athletic”) and polished. They’re also trying their hand at a unique lighting design: following the hood line across the top of the grille is a series of “digital piano key” daytime running lights. Infiniti is only promising that this concept is a look at the “future design language” of the brand, but it’s reading Range Rover to us, so they have their sights set high.

Availability: TBD

If you haven’t been keeping up with Meyers Manx since they made dune buggies out of VW Beetles in the ‘60s, the long and short of it is that they’re doing electric buggies now and they’re owned by a venture capital firm. At Monterey, they announced the Resorter NEV (that’s Neighborhood Electric Vehicle), which is basically a way cooler golf cart (it’s limited to 25 mph) that also happens to cost $49,000. That’s an enormous chunk of change. But it pales in comparison to the starting price of $74,000 the company announced for their electric Manx 2.0, which was billed as the next generation of the iconic dune buggy when it was first unveiled last year. Maybe Patterson can buy one for putting around Pebble Beach when he tries to win his fourth Concours title next year.

Availability: Meyers Manx is eyeing production of the Manx 2.0 this year, but in general, delivery dates remain an open question. They’re doing the Tesla thing and taking $500 deposits to save your place in line for both the bigger buggy and the Resorter NEV.

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