January seems to be top-of-mind in the vroom-vroom crowd, a time when Palm Beach revels in America's love affair with the automobile on a few fronts.
The second Palm Beach Supercar Weekend, Jan. 26-28, will showcase about 200 rare and, in some cases, one-off designs by Bugatti, Ferrari, Mclaren and Lamborghini. Discerning collectors and supercar aficionados are coming in droves, to covet and nod in tribute to the design genius of Battista Pininfarina and Harley Earl, creator of the Corvette.
Ecirkit.com and Supercar Life are the sponsors, but the event is the brainchild of John Temerian, the founder of what he hopes will become an annual tradition. Temerian of All Out Exotics has held exotic-car lineups in the area in recent months and last year launched Supercar Weekend with a "sneak-peek" spin through the grounds of Donald Trump's oceanfront mansion at 515 N. County Road (asking price $125 million). Now, he and partner Scott Levinson have formed the company, Privilege.
Following some VIP events Jan. 26 and 27 to benefit Ballet Florida and the Laureus Foundation, the design tributes will take place Jan. 28 at the Palm Beach Supercar Concours at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
Temerian said he "giggles every day" as he hears about more confirmations, such as the 2005 winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, by the ADT Champion Team.
"We just got the Audi R8, the Le Mans winner. People are shipping cars from all over the world. These are not just exotic cars, they're not normal 'supercars.' They are one-off, very rare, $500,000 and up," Temerian said.
Other über-rides in the show include the 2006 Bugatti Veyron flagship model; a 1993 Jaguar XJ220; one of 29 Ferrari FXX; dozens of Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster, Coupe and LP640 versions; Porsche Carrera GT; one of five U.S. Mercedes CLK DTM; and a 1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4.
Unlike the 16th annual Palm Beach Cavallino Classic, a five-day Ferrari show that will open Jan. 23 at The Breakers, the Supercar Weekend showcases several top supercar producers.
There will be "a wide variety, some unique Lamborghinis, a $2 million Bugatti," Porche, Jaguar and Merdedes. The piece de resistance will be the Ferrari, owned by collector Jim Glickenhaus, Temerian said. The latter has not been shown elsewhere, except in Paris in model form, and in California at Pebble Beach, he said.
"It's a one-of-a kind, tailor-made, priceless Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina, arguably the most significant and exciting automobile in the world," he said. "This is huge," attracting guests from numerous countries.
Supercar Weekend is "a once in a lifetime experience. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience the inspiration behind today's supercar, and truly appreciate the masterminds behind today's motorized art forms. This is not only an exotic car display, but a display of the modern art of the auto industry," Temerian said.
Among the treasures to be seen is a 1963 Corvette Roadster owned by Harley Earl, which he wheeled around Palm Beach. That is the last year that he designed the car, before the Sting Ray generation. According to Earl's grandson, Richard Earl of West Palm Beach, it is "America's rarest and most expensive Corvette," because it would garner $10 million or more if the owner were to offer it for sale at a collector-car auction.
Auto dealer Bob McDorman of Bob McDorman Chevrolet in Columbus, Ohio has owned the 'vette for a decade, among other Harley Earl Corvettes.
"Harley's credo was to bring together the science of the engineer and the skill of the artist in order that the automobile might be as beautiful as it is useful," his grandson said.
Supercar Weekend is an expression of style, Temerian said. "Following Harley Earl's motto 'beauty for everyone,' we have carefully selected our sponsors and venues, keeping the high standards and lifestyle of our demanding international audience ..."
Glickenhaus commissioned the Ferrari P4/5 and told Temerian that it evokes the genius and passion of an era when automobiles were an art-form, "when sex was safe, and racing was dangerous."
Jason Castriota, the design team leader of Pininfarina, will be a guest of honor at Supercar Weekend, where polo spectators and sportscar lovers will be able to inspect the Ferrari P4/5. It will be on the field at half-time during the finals of The Joe Barry Memorial Cup polo tournament.
Billing itself as "a celebration of art, design and speed," Supercar Weekend is attracting a rash of sponsors: Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Maybach, Piaget, Emilio Pucci, Grey Goose, Bacardi USA, Makes and Models magazine, Hugo Boss, Palm Beach Motor Cars, Chariots of Palm Beach, Caviarteria, duPont Registry, Keith Martin's Sportscar Market and Altima International.
In past years, the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic has drawn 70 to 80 Ferrari owners who wheel into a leisurely 25-mile caravan up and down Ocean Boulevard and County Road.
Last year's drivers tanked up on gourmet fare at The Breakers, stopped for dessert at "checkpoint" SunTrust Bank, cruised through Ocean Ridge, took a spin through The Mar-a-Lago Club, snacked at The Chesterfield and wound up with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at a reception at Jet Aviation.
At the first Palm Beach Supercar Weekend, about 250 luxury car owners participated in an exhibition with several special events. The event began in Manalapan at the former Cantor estate, a 2-acre oceanfront mansion listed by Barclay's International Realty for $32.9 million. There were artist displays, vendor booths and a fashion show.
Car lovers followed the power of suggestion, as well. According to Maurizio Ciminella, managing partner of Amici Ristorante in Palm Beach, smaller car conclaves have made stops at the restaurant and have been "very successful." Ciminella hosted one of Temerian's gatherings last year.
Supercar Weekend is "John's baby. He's a local kid, a very energetic person who has lots of contacts in the world of exotic cars," Ciminella said. "He brings lots of business, we've done four different deals, Ferrari nights and get-togethers."
For four years, Amici and other restaurants catered the Jet Aviation festivities, La Bella Macchina, during the Cavallino Classic. Now, he is a consultant with the Ferrari Club of South Florida and Shelton Ferrari-Maserati dealership. This year's classic includes the Concorso d'Eleganza at The Breakers, spins at Moroso Motorsports, and a brunch at The Mar-a-Lago Club.
Perhaps because the 2006 Supercar Weekend turned up the heat on car event competition, the Cavallino event "exploded" last year, Ciminella said.
"Before that, it was only Ferraris and things were quiet. But last year, there were old collector cars, really rare stuff. One guy from Miami showed six," he said.
Tickets for the Palm Beach Supercar Weekend are $40 for general admission on Jan. 28, and $200 for VIP tickets. For information, see www.palmbeachsuper