It may lack the worldwide renown of Pebble Beach, but Carmel’s relaxed and inclusive Concours on the Avenue is no less glamorous.
Monterey Car Week kicked off in fine style on 21 August as a glittering array of machines ranging from Austin Minis and modern classic BMWs to Mille Miglia starlets and legendary muscle cars descended on the the picturesque seaside town.
This year’s prize turn was a stunning 1967 Lamborghini 400GT belonging to well-known local Robert Ross, owner of the Cypress Inn, site of the show after-party.
The event marked the first time the car had been shown in 14 years, and it took to the ramp to much applause (for both its stunning appearance and the cat-like reflexes of its passenger, who dashed to pull the handbrake as it began to roll away!).
Scores of classics turned out for the informal event, which saw a carefully curated selection of historics lined up along either side of Ocean Avenue and the surrounding streets, all of which were packed with visitors throughout the day.
This year’s show proved particularly strong for competition cars, the crowd favourite being the 1966 Bardahl Special Lola T70 Mk2 Spyder, powered by a 305 Ford V8 and finished in Dan Gurney Blue.
The machine picked up an award for Laguna Seca racers and roared up to the podium to the delight of showgoers.
A rare 23-window Volkswagen Samba Bus proved a popular winner of the Ocean Avenue Motor Club Award for the car with the greatest fun factor, with a spontaneous ripple of applause breaking out as it approached the winners’ circle.
Finished in Chestnut Brown over Cinnabar Red, it had been in the same family ownership for 25 years.
Not everything on the avenue was so easily identifiable: the eye-catching 1958 Williams Special drew a great deal of attention for its blunt styling and interesting details, including cycle wings formed from old spare wheel surrounds.
The one-off car scooped the preservation award. Compère Donald Osborne summed it up nicely: “Thank you for bringing something that we only see in old magazines and our imaginations”.
Former Trans-Am Series champion Tony Gloy delighted with his 1958 Porsche 1600 Speedster, which was described as being one of the most original of its type.
Its wonderfully patinated paintwork proved a welcome foil for the (mostly) immaculate machines on show.
A second Speedster – a fully restored Carrera model – also picked up an award, this time for engineering excellence.
Freshly rebuilt, it looked better than when it came out of the factory. “But they were built to be driven,” said its enthusiastic owner. “It’s the second time I’ve shown it – now it’s time to drive and enjoy it!”
Other award winners included a mammoth 1956 Cadillac Viewmaster Wagon (one of just nine built), a 1963 (and a half) Ford Galaxie 500, a 1951 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500, a 1951 Jaguar XK120 and a 1971 Plymouth ’Cuda convertible.
A number of other vehicles could easily have picked up an award, with Tony and Pat Olmo’s 1956 Volkswagen Beetle Deluxe Cabriolet a favourite of the C&SC team.
The couple bought the car from a friend in 1994 after it had languished under a cover for eight years, and quickly embarked on a restoration that would take two years.
“It had been painted a silver colour,” said Pat, “it was only when we took the floors back that we found out it was originally Diamond Green. We had to restore it.”
Now immaculate, the matching numbers car was treated to an engine rebuild to original factory specification, as well as being fitted with a host of period-correct accessories.
It even boasts the original stereo blanking plate and toolkit – though the smallest Hazet screwdriver in the set at some point went missing. Do you have a suitable replacement?
Concours regular Dan Egan also caused a stir with his remarkable 1967 Toyota 2000GT, which is finished in a striking red. “If it had have been silver I wouldn’t have bought it,” jokes Egan.
The California native first saw the Shelby-prepared model being raced in the 1968 SCCA racing season, so when he saw an advert for a road-going version in the pages of Competition Press in 1974, he didn’t hesitate.
“It’s covered around 75,000 miles – I used to commute in it every day in Los Angeles in the late ’70s. Now I cover about 2-300 miles a year. Enough to keep the fluids moving!”
Almost as captivating was a 1988 BMW M3 Evo 2, which was brought to the show from Cincinnati, Ohio, by one of North America’s biggest M-car specialists, Eric Keller.
Even in average condition the car would be a noteworthy machine, but with less than 5000 miles on the clock this one was very special.
Ordered new in the UK as a gift for the first owner’s wife, it lived a sheltered life and remained in the country until 2011, when it was sold with just 2500 miles on the clock.
A subsequent owner took the car on a dream drive through Europe, passing through Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Also on show was the 1970 and 1971 SCCA National championship-winning BRE Datsun 240Z campaigned by John Morton.
It was displayed alongside a trio of racing Datsuns with strong links to Laguna Seca: a 1965 1500 Roadster and 1968 2000 Sports both belonging to Mike Sweeney, and the 1966 1600 Roadster of Ross Merrill.
A brace of former Bruce Jennings Porsche 911s also drew plenty of admiring glances.
The last privately owned Jennings racer – a 1969 911S – was brought to the event by Randy Smalley.
It was paired with Bob Smalley Jr’s 1968 911S, which was bought new by Jennings and kept until he died in 1995.
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