This is how your Bugatti and Ferrari get to where they need to go

AUGUST 24, 2018

Sure, you see hundreds, nay thousands of beautiful cars all over the place at Pebble – there’s The Quail, The Reunion, The Pebble Beach Concours, there are cars at the auctions, in the streets and on every curb on the Monterey peninsula –- but how the heck did they all get there? One or two may actually have been driven. But not the beautiful bazillion-dollar ex-Count of Monte Cristo Fazulli Lambrusco that’ll be auctioned at the Chateau de la Biftec on Sunday. No, that thing didn’t wade through L.A. traffic and then rattle up Interstate 5 with all the uninsured death traps. No way. That car and all the others like it were carefully and gently wafted into Pebble inside an enclosed trailer like the one you see above.I could have chosen any number of ways to get to Pebble this year. In the past I’ve driven up, flown up commercially, ridden a motorcycle up and even arrived once in a Ford Trimotor and twice by private jet (‘cause that’s how I roll, yo). But this year I wanted to do it the way the show cars do it -– in style in an 18-wheeler.

The idea was greeted with surprising enthusiasm by the representative for Reliable Carriers, the transportation and logistics juggernaut that hauls more collector cars to Pebble and other places than any other entity on Earth.

“Reliable Carriers is the largest enclosed exotic, luxury and collector car transport company in the world, with 403 custom-built and equipped specialized rigs,” the Reliable rep informed me. “Reliable moves 160,000 – 170,000 cars per year and each truck you see on the road has an average of $1-$2 million worth of cars in it at any given time. That’s nearly $50 billion in vehicles moved every year. And Reliable Carriers is eight times larger than their nearest competitor.”

Indeed, there would be more than 100 Reliable trucks on the Monterey peninsula during this week alone, hauling something like $50 to $60 million worth of collector cars to their starring roles at auctions, shows and tours. So I figured, I oughta go with Reliable.

Reliable Carrier rear three quarter

The rig is 78 feet long and 13 and a half feet high


And did I ever. Reliable placed me in the truck of owner/operator John Klumpp, whose 78-foot rig has a 14-foot-long ARI Sleeper that made it the Ritz Carlton/Taj Mahal of 18 wheelers. In addition to all those wheels, it has a living space behind the cab that would rival most motor homes — satellite radio, Dish TV, a shower, and fold-down bunks enough for a platoon of truckers. Klumpp’s 2014 Kenworth T660 stickered for $300,000 or so, and was worth every nickel. With all its amenities it’s like a rolling apartment, which means Klumpp doesn’t have to ever check into a motel or eat at a restaurant – just pull something out of the freezer, let it defrost while you drive, then cook it up for dinner at a truck stop.

The Kenworth is powered by a turbocharged straight-six Cummins 600 ISX mated to an 18-speed manual transmission. The turbodiesel engine makes 600 hp and 2,250 lb-ft of torque, which allows it to carry 23,000 pounds of cargo with a GVWR – cargo plus truck – of 80,500 pounds.

“There’s smaller engines but I want to get up hills,” Klumpp said.

Plus, larger displacement engines aren’t stressed as much and require fewer repairs, he said. A new transmission will set you back $10,000, a new engine could be 50 grand. So pay more up front and you won’t have to pay up later, he reasons.

The 47-year-old Klumpp has been driving since he was 19. At lunch in a truck stop in Grapevine we tallied up his lifetime mileage in big rig diesels: 2.2 million miles.

Fill 'er up!

Fill ‘er up!


At Grapevine we also stopped to fill up, topping off the two tanks with 152 gallons of diesel at $3.999 a gallon for a tab of $607.96, including several gallons of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to keep emissions cleaner. This lead, once we were back underway, to a discussion about many things, including Tesla’s electric big rig. The price of electricity is way less per mile than the price of diesel fuel, the biggest expense a trucker has by far, and with a claimed range of 500 miles, Klumpp sees a great opportunity in the Tesla…assuming it works as advertised. We talked all six hours we rode, solving all the world’s problems, if only the world would listen to us: Klumpp and Vaughn in 2020!

Riding in the rig is something. We sit way up above the road, peering down upon all but our fellow truckers. There was not, to my surprise, any country music on the satellite radio. It was off and stayed off. We talked the whole way – about every topic under the sun. The Kenworth powered on, much less ungainly than I would have thought such a big thing would be. Klumpp took turns wider than I would have thought, and cars moved over to make room to let him get around them.

What was inside our trailer? On earlier runs this same week Klumpp had hauled Porsches, include a 906 and some cool 911s. On the run before that it was several cars that would be sold at the RM Sotheby’s auction. I was hoping for something like that, maybe a truck full of Ferraris, just to be able to say I hauled a truck full of Ferraris to Pebble, even though I never touched the steering wheel. Instead, what was back there was a couple of Lexus concepts and a privately owned AMG GTA. Now, I ain’t complaining here, and those are certainly cool-enough vehicles each in their own ways, but I wanted a brace of Mullin Bugatti, or the Sultan of Brunei’s private quiver of Silver Arrows. Or those Porsches. Didn’t anybody need some 917s for the big Porsche 70th bash?

“All those went up earlier in the week,” said Klumpp.

Oh well.

We rolled into Monterey long after dark, parking the 78-foot tractor trailer on a reserved stretch of road in town. I took off for my hotel, Klumpp slept the government-mandated number of hours in the spacious living accomodations of the ARI sleeper, dropped off the Lexii the next morning and headed north to Oakland to deliver the AMG. By the time I contacted him that afternoon he’d already unloaded and returned, and was eating lunch at El Torito.

That’s the life – King of the Road.

Mark VaughnMARK VAUGHN – West Coast Editor Mark Vaughn covers all car things west of the Mississippi from his Autoweek lair high above the LA metropolis. 
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