While much of the attention prior to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance main event is on shows such as The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and the Concorso Italiano one event had brand presence we needed to attend. Named the Legends of the Autobahn 2015, the event collected some of the finest German-made vehicles in the country. OEM brands BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz were well represented and even backed with spectacular corporate displays for 2015.
Held at the Nicklaus Club in the foothills beyond Carmel-By-The-Sea, the Legends of the Autobahn show cars filled the pristine greens of this exclusive golf course. Even early in the morning there was a line of spectators in fantastic German cars forming a show in and of itself in the VIP parking lot area, with a selection of the best platforms on display from the past six decades. However, the main event was filled with everything from clean, survivor vehicles with original paint, all the way on up to multi-year (and multi-million dollar) restorations.
Starting in the BMW section, rows upon rows of roundel-badged cars from Munich lined the greens. The well-represented 1970s coupes (E9 chassis) were in every flavor from 2800CS all the way on up to the super-collectible 3.0 CSL — race-ready cars with distinct aerodynamic add-ons. Several BMW M5 units from every generation were in attendance, with our full attention drawn to a Euro-spec 1995 BMW M5 Touring wagon, a rare beast indeed! A few early M3 showcars on display were mega rare as well, and included a 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight (only 125 made) and a 1990 BMW M3 Evo Sport, of which only two are titled here in the US.
Not be outdone, the BMW USA corporate effort did not disappoint. BMW Motorsport brought out its factory LeMans racer, a Z4 powered by a V8 and another special restored M3 race car from their heritage. The 2001 BMW M3 GTR, powered by a 4.0-liter V8 engine, was the most successful car in American LeMans Series racing during the 2001 season. So good, it was essentially banned from competition, but not before six street-legal M3 GTRs were sold to the public to solidify its qualification to race. The folklore is that BMW bought back four of these street cars and their whereabouts is unknown to this day. Nonetheless, one of the only two remaining 2001 BMW M3 GTR street cars surfaced up wearing it’s unique functional bodywork and big V8 engine stuffed under its vented hood.
On to the Mercedes-Benz area where they brought out an S63 AMG Coupe for display. Unfortunately, their crown jewel, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Concept, was at The Quail event and could not attend. Where the factory Benz effort lacked, owner efforts more than made up for it. We were treated to dozens of post-war Benz classics, including a pair of 300SL Gullwings and several beautiful cabriolets of many generations. We especially enjoyed seeing an early 1990s AMG-tuned 190E sedan with a proper manual transmission.
There were a handful of Audi products in attendance, as well. Prior to the 1980s, Audi did not have the popularity of Mercedes or BMW; however, the brand has become a powerhouse as of late, meaning most display vehicles were late-model products. Champion Motorsports even hauled out its Audi RS6 racecar, which was a great opportunity to see this legend up close.
With hundreds of cars to view and a number of amicable owners eager to chat about their favorite brand, the event is a must-see for fans of Germany’s big threes.