So we sailed up to the sun, till we found a sea of green….
Lennon and McCartney, Yellow Submarine
Photos by Sean Cridland
If anywhere in the car world there was a real-life Pepperland, a place of love and flower-power, a hidden place both up near the sun and beneath the waves, it would have to be the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the kick-off event of the mêlée that is Monterey Car Week. Somehow, it maintains its charm despite years of fans pronouncing it the worst kept secret, as it is the most charming and fun event of the week.
We guess most of our readers are regular attendees, but if you’re not, you’re missing out on a delightful collection of Porsches, Ferraris, hot-rods, muscle cars and more all strewn about the streets of one of the cutest towns in the Americas. Each year features a promoter-chosen oddity of some type. This year it was the grand American tri-headlight failure of legend: the Tucker.
No one is really quite sure what makes “the Carmel” magical, but maybe it has something to do with the bistros, galleries, and wine shops. Maybe its just that the mist floating up the hill, gifts both professional and amateur photographers with perfect light. Or, contrasted with some other events of the week, it asks nothing of its fans. It has no expectations, no requirements to impress.
No matter the reason, the faithful show up at 7ish each year to get their croissants and coffee, peruse the offerings of the big auction house booths showing their specials of the week at the corners of Ocean and San Carlos. This year that included a gaggle of 50s and early 60s era Ferraris which – collectively – later brought in a couple hundred millions of dollars. It could be magic, or maybe pastries and coffee just taste better while listening to a range of high-revving engines of various numbers and formations of cylinders inching their way into location.
For entertainment, Ed Justice Jr, Donald Osborne, and Alain de Cadenet held court down at center stage throughout the day, bantering about automotive history and future trends while also interviewing movers and shakers such as Bruce Meyer and Alois Ruf. Meyer and Ruf were showing off both the original Yellowbird and its latest incarnation, one with a Porsche 964-inspired body made of carbon fiber. One can only imagine its performance as it weighs a paltry 2400 pounds and is powered by a 700hp rear mounted engine.
Other notable parades of cars invited to the stage included gaggle of cutest original Mini-Coopers followed not long after by half a dozen of the forever-beautiful Ferrari Dinos. Both groups of owners had great stories about their life-long devotions to these iconic baubles.
Looking at it all might be something akin to staring into the mountain of gold in Smaug’s treasure lair as Tolkien described it in The Hobbit. Yet, throughout the day, you would have seen the blue-blazered, white fedora-topped judges, this year sporting pink ties, worrying about how they would be able to pick “the best” of each example. Not a job for the faint of heart. Yet somehow they do.
For our readers, we’ll limit the results to the winners of the Porsche classes.
Barbara and Michael Malamut won the Michael C Lynch Award for Excellence in Engineering with their 356 1951 pre-A Coupe.
Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the day was when Tom Gloy received a Meguiar’s Shining kit for winning the award presented by the Historic Vehicle Association, which also qualifies his car to be registered for a national automotive heritage designation. Gloy’s well-patinaed pre-A Speedster is one of a very few completely original Porsche cars outside of a museum setting. Other than an occasional dusting, Gloy prefers to leave it “as is.” The Shining Kit will most likely sit on a shelf next to the beautiful glass trophy he received.
Phil Bagley won the Bruce Anderson Porsche Cup with his beautiful 911ST. In other Porsche classes, Mark Leonard won first place in the 356 A-B-C coupes class. In 356 A-B-C open-tops, José Cobian took top honors with his 356 B twin grille Super 90.
George Alpaugh took the top trophy in Pre-A coupes, with Nick Clemence taking the Pre-A Speedster class with his GS Speedster. Winners of the 911 classes included Rick Jeffrey’s Carrera RS 2.7, Randy Smalley’s 964 RS, and in the Laguna Seca Race Car class, Thomas Gruber’s 964 RSR.
By day’s end, whether cars won or not mattered not. The Concours on the Avenue sang its song with a lilt in its voice and a twinkle in its eye and everyone there left with a smile on their faces.
Our friends are all aboard, many more of them live next door
The band begins to play….