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Cars n Stars: The Bulls Run on Cal Freeways, BMW Z3 is Hot, $1 Million for Toyota Atlantic Fans

20 August 1998

While the prancing horse indicia is the widely recognized logo on all iterations of exotic Ferrari sports cars, its Italian megabuck counterpart, the two-seater, V-12 Lamborghini (Diablo/Countach), has Toro the raging bull as its hood emblem and trademark.

Wednesday evening at the posh Four Seasons Fashion Island hotel in Orange County, CA, fifty new Lamborghini Diablo sports cars gathered on the lawn to strut/preen, honor racer Mario Andretti, and to throw a charity gala and auction to aid Child Help, U.S.A. The cars stayed the night to prepare for a 390 mile jaunt to the Monterey Historic race weekend and Pebble Beach Concours in Carmel, CA (cruise control 8/11).

They called the trip "the running of the bulls." The 50 car, CHP-led caravan of 500 horsepower speedsters hailing from ten states (including Florida and New Jersey) saw Andretti in the lead car.

Of the 50 Lambos, 20 were special SV editions made for the Monterey adventure and sported special paint schemes and striping cues.

U.S. Lamborghini distributor Vik Keuylian ram-rodded the $150 per plate affair, and said the value of the rolling stock on display was $13.5 million. The name of the color on his chartreuse car was verde scandale(??!!).

Spotted in the elite gathering of auto enthusiasts ogling the gull-winged Diablos were: everybody's race queen Linda Vaughn; 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones; Off road racing champion Steve Millen; Vitamin king-racer-philanthropist Dick Marconi; and lots of pretty ladies.

Andretti, who won the Indy 500 in 1969, allowed that he was very honored to be $elected to partake in this parade of cars which will wend its way north on the 405 to the 101 and end up in the Concours Italiano in Carmel at the Quail Lodge, as a feature of Italian exotic cars on display Thursday and Friday, Aug 13-14. All in all it was a Lambo kind of evening.

The BMW Z3 two place roadster is selling well, even though the manual top mechanism (on our test car) was a bear to operate. It took two people to raise and lower the tiny canvas top, but once in place is it was real snug. The standard model sports a 1.9 liter four-cylinder motor, 96.3 in wheelbase and weighs in at 2,270 pounds. Horsepower is ample at 138, and it has a 13 gallon fuel tank. ABS is standard, as is a 5-speed transmission. It's zippy and really gets noticed. The 2.8 version can be had in a special edition painted Dakar yellow and has trick Y-spoke wheels, rollover bars (ugly), and a Harmon Kardon sound system.

Toyota racing is staging a $1 million contest in the Toyota Atlantic race series. If you watch the races on ESPN2 on August 15 and August 22 you will receive all the details. Charlotte Motor Speedways boss, Humpy Wheeler has invented another form of motorsports activity designed to attract kids who have grown out of Karts and aren't quite ready for Legends or Midgets. He staged the Briggs and Stratton Bandolero Nationals at Lil Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. The Bandolero looks like a sports coupe, weighs 500 pounds and is powered by a 30hp Briggs and Stratton motor. For more info: 760 720 1103.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel