The 2023 Velocity Invitational was heaven on earth for car enthusiasts — an event that’s like if Forza and Gran Turismo came to life. Cars that should be in a guarded museum are lined up and hitting the track, all without any concern that this one vehicle is worth millions. It was amazing to see, and as media, I was able to get pretty close to cars that would have been roped off or locked up in any other instance.
Out of the thousands of the cars that attended Velocity Invitation this year, heres some of what we thought were the best cars at the show.
Born of a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and motorsport executive Peter Sauber, the C9 was the result of Sauber using Mercedes engines for years in the race cars he would develop. The C9 would go on to a one-two-five win at the 1989 24 hours of Le Mans. This C9 is one of only six ever made.
Renault 5 Turbo 2
The Renault 5 Turbo 2 was the second version of the homologation special that was the Renault 5 Turbo. The Turbo 2 differed by using more stock parts from the Renault 5 but somehow performed nearly the same as the first 5 Turbo; its 1.3-liter turbocharged I4 produced 160 horsepower and was enough to get the hatch to 60 in nearly seven seconds. Better yet, it was cheaper than the first car.
Gunther Werks Porsche 911 Turbo
At first I thought this was some kind of cool Ruf Porsche that I had never seen before. It turned out to be something just as good: A 993 Porsche 911 Turbo restomod from Gunther Werks. Limited to 75 examples, each one makes 700 hp from its turbocharged flat six and looks gorgeous while doing it. This one was literally spitting flames going through its gears on the track. Love to see it.
Seeing a Speedtail in person in the U.S. was something. Not only is it a rare work of art (only 106 were ever made, 37 of which made it to the U.S.) but it’s a treat, as the car isn’t exactly legal to drive on U.S. roads. Or I should say, it’s “legal” to drive. In designing the Speedtail, McLaren did without sideview mirrors and side curtain airbags, making the car illegal under federal vehicle safety standards. The only way it can be driven in the U.S. is under show and display laws, meaning it can be driven and shown because of its design but its limited 2,500 miles a year and has to be registered.
A Pair Of McLaren F1s
Another rare and wonderful treat to see, there were actually four F1s in attendance this year at Velocity. In addition to the two you see above, there was a third Navy Blue one that I never saw again. However, seeing so many examples of a car that can easily fetch near $20 million at an auction brought out the kid in me. Only 64 road-going versions of the F1 were ever made, and it’s hard to say how many of those are left.
1961 Porsche Abarth Carrera
A decade before Carlo Abarth sold his company to Fiat, an unlikely union between Porsche’s competition director Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Abarth resulted in a string of dominating racers. With bodies designed by Italian coach designer Franco Scaglione, they were placed on top of Porsche 356B Carrera GT chassis. With 1.9-liter, 350-hp engines, they dominated racing with class wins at Le Mans, Sebring and the ‘Ring from 1960-1963. The one above is one of 20 ever made.
1974 BMW 3.5 CSL
Schnitzer Racing modified and updated the 2800CS for Euro endurance racing in 1972. By 1974, the model had been updated to 3.5 CSL status. It went on to win three 1976 World Championship for Makes races.
I was unknowingly standing next to the wife of the owner of this car during its stint on the track. She startled me when she randomly gave me a hug while yelling, “There’s my husband!” when she saw him out on the track. She told me a bit about how they’ve owned the car for years now and don’t race it as much as they used to since parts for it can only be found in Germany now and are getting rarer.
Ferrari 575 GTZ By Zagato
While there were tons of beautiful cars on display, some of the best stuff wasn’t shown to the public and was personally driven there by attendees or owners. Randomly sitting in a part of the event that the general public couldn’t access between two trailers was this 2006 Ferrari 575 GTZ By Zagato.
Originally built as a request by a single 575 owner, Zagato eventually made five of them; three got sold to select customers by Ferrari while the remaining two came to the U.S. This is one of those two, randomly parked by an RV at a racetrack in Northern California. Incredible.
The Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series Parked Next To The Ferrari Zagato
I suspect that the SL65 AMG Black Series that was parked next to the 575 GTZ Zagato belonged to the same owner, as every time I saw them they either traded spots or one was gone while the other stayed. I have huge respect for someone who owns two cars like this though. While not as rare as the Ferrari, the SL65 is rare in its own right and a monster of a car.
Just 350 of the R230 generation SL became the AMG Black Series, and 175 came to the U.S., where they cost $300,000 a pop. The modern SL has always been a heavy car, so when the SL Black Series came about, it got a 551-pound weight reduction from the combination of extensive use of carbon fiber, and the lack of the complex metal folding roof the regular SL received. The massive twin-turbocharged 6.5-liter V12 made 661 hp and had a claimed top speed of 200 mph.
1950 Parkinson Jaguar Special
The Parkinson Jaguar Special started life as a sketch made by Robert Cumerford (of Automobile Magazine fame) when he was just a teen. It was later built at International Motors in L.A.. While it looks unique, it’s in a fact a heavily modified early production XK120. International moved the engine rearward about 12 inches, then dropped it and moved it slightly to the right. With a curb weight less than an NA Mazda Miata and a 3.8-liter, 290-hp engine powering it, this thing was a sight to see out on the track.
Shmee’s 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse
Popular automotive Youtuber Tim Burton, aka Shmee150, was at Velocity, and I kept catching a glimpse of his new ‘24 Mustang Dark Horse. Apparently he was also an announcer there and has been on a 4,000 mile road trip in this thing, hitting SEMA and Velocity on his journey.
A Ferrari Bus
I know it’s not an actual Ferrari bus, but its a bus pained in Ferrari like livery, which is just as cool in my book.
2006 Saleen S7R
The race version of Saleen’s monster supercar, the S7 dominated racing in the late 2000s. This particular S7R, chassis No. 66R is just one of 18 S7Rs ever built. It’s also one of just four of those that were manufactured in the U.S. at Saleen’s Irvine, CA, facility. With each S7R powered by a Ford-sourced 7.0-liter V8 making 550 hp, these cars was a huge success on the international racing scene.
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