Go back in time at the annual Vail Automotive Classic | VailDaily.com

Go back in time at the annual Vail Automotive Classic

The Ferrari F-40 made headlines in 1990 when one sold for 1 million British Pounds. Vail Automotive Classic sponsor Scuderia Rampante, a Ferrari restoration shop in Erie, Colorado, is expected to bring an F-40 to Vail this weekend as part of Sunday’s public viewing of classic cars in Vail Village.
Will Ainsworth | Special to the Daily |

At the Vail Automotive Classic this weekend, you will have a chance to sit inside of a DeLorean and pretend you’re Marty McFly. And when you exit the vehicle, and you’re greeted by a bunch of cars from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, you may indeed believe you’ve traveled back in time.

Today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 85 incredible vehicles will line the streets of Vail Village from the International Bridge to Gore Creek Drive, Bridge Street and Mountain Plaza. Today’s spectacle will be the main event in the Vail Automotive Classic in 2017, as the usual festivities near the airport in Gypsum won’t take place this year due to construction there.

For those interested in seeing the vehicles, the absence of the airport event on this year’s calendar will mean you can check out the vehicles totally free of charge.

“That’s the big change for this year, that the event is free of charge and taking place in Vail Village,” said Don Welch, with the Vail Automotive Classic. “There’s going to be a lot to see.”

Indeed, today’s event in Vail will have a lot to see. But when it comes to cars, seeing them is only part of the experience. That’s why the Vail Automotive Classic has branched out into a multi-day function in recent years, with a drive now constituting part of the event.

“If you’re a car person, the sound is as important as the look,” Welch said. “The European sports cars will have a Formula One race car-type sound, while a lot of the American muscle cars will have a deep throated sound.”

On Saturday, the driving portion of the Vail Automotive Classic departed Ford Park at around 9 a.m. and headed down the South Frontage Road in Vail. About 70 cars were expected to take part in the drive, which took vehicles from Ford Park to Steamboat Springs along the South Frontage Road, Interstate 70 and Highway 131. The vehicles were expected to start arriving in Ford Park’s parking lot at around 7 a.m. on Saturday, and all are welcome to see and, more importantly, hear these vehicles in action today. It will be a rare opportunity, said Welch.

“It’s great because people who own cars that they just take to car shows, they love to be able to get out and drive them,” Welch said. “But it’s not something they do very often.”

Million dollar car?

There is a such thing as the million dollar car, says local car enthusiast Bob Ruder, and it will be in Vail today. Ruder helps organize the Vail Automotive Classic every year.

“This year, one of our sponsors is Scuderia Rampante, a Ferrari restoration shop in Erie, Colorado, and they’re bringing some full-blown Ferrari race cars,” Ruder said. “I’m hoping to see their Ferrari F-40, which is one of the most amazing supercars in the world.”

The Ferrari F-40 made headlines in 1990 when it broke the record for highest amount ever paid for a vehicle, selling for 1 million British pounds to Formula One driver Nigel Mansell. Less than 1,500 F-40s were made, and they will never be made again.

“They will never be allowed to make another F-40 in today’s world of red tape and health and safety,” Bob Houghton Ltd. service manager Russell Smith told Evo magazine in 2013. “That is what makes it so special and so desirable.”


In addition to the F-40, Scuderia Rampante is also expected to bring an International Motor Sports Association Ferrari which participated in races once upon a time, and they’re also bringing a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE.

Probably the most rare of all of the cars expected to grace the streets of Vail on Sunday, however, will be the 1952 Jaguar C-Type, of which only 53 were manufactured in total.

“That’s probably a half a million dollar car,” Ruder said.

For those looking to appreciate the cultural value of these cars, rather than the engines themselves, one to look for in Vail today will be the 1957 BMW 507. Ruder calls it the best BMW coup ever made, and for investors at the time, this was also one of the best cars ever made as BMW claims to have lost money on every one sold.

“The claim to fame for that car was Elvis Presley owned one,” Ruder said.

In addition to the 507, the DeLorean — famous for its appearances in the Back to the Future movies — will have the most appeal in a pop culture sense, but there’s one more vehicle Ruder says is worth checking out regardless of your own personal interest in cars.

“There’s a guy who lives in the area that has a teeny, tiny, 1970 Subaru 360 van,” Ruder said. “I’ve never seen it, but I understand it’s only 10 horsepower. To get to the event, the owner was debating whether or not to take it on the freeway, or use the bike trail.”

Visit vailautomotiveclassic.com for more information on the Vail Automotive Classic.

Support Local Journalism