There was one thing that all events of the Monterey motoring week had in common; they were very expensive to get in to. That changed in 2007 with the addition of the ‘Concours on the Avenue’ to the already very busy week. Held on Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea, access was free of any charge. It was one of many differences with a ‘conventional’ Concours. With no Ferraris or pre-War machinery the entry list also set the Concours on the Avenue apart from other events held the same week.
Clearly a great success, the event grew in size to two days in 2008. The post-War theme remained, but great rivals Ferrari and Porsche were given their own day on Monday. Tuesday was dedicated to sports cars from all other manufacturers ranging from Toyota to Rolls Royce. Another unique feature is the ‘Concours in the Windows.’ Many of the lovely shops on the ‘Avenue’ had dedicated their windows to the automobile with a wide variety of displays. As with any concours, the best efforts were received awards at the end of the day.
Monday: Ferrari and Porsche through 1973
For sixty years now Ferrari and Porsche have been each others biggest competitors on the road and even more so, on the track. With over two dozen wins at Le Mans between them, it is clear that the two absolutely dominated sports car racing in the second half of the 20th century. The road cars of the two are not quite as closely matched, but can both be rated as the top of their respective field. They both even have the same ‘prancing horse’ in their logo. So it is fitting that the first day of the Concours on the Avenue was dedicated to the two rivals.
In keeping with the Concours’ modest approach there were relatively few ‘big dollar’ Ferraris. It cleared the way for models that are rarely shown at major concours like Dinos and 308s, often painted in another colour than red. The most unusual of these was a 365 GTC that sported a green (Pino Verde) paint scheme complete with a matching plaid interior. Another ‘oddity’ was a 365 GT 2+2 fitted with a custom nose with covered headlights similar to a 250 GT Lusso. At the time the 365 GT 2+2 was the largest Ferrari ever produced and it is today often referred to as the Queen Mother. This particular paid tribute to that with the vanity plate “HRH MUM.”
One of the most beautiful cars entered was Ferrari 166 fitted with a white Touring Barchetta body. Purists will point out that the chassis was originally fitted with a Berlinetta body by Ghia and that the current coachwork was only recently created far away from Touring’s workshop in Milan. What really matters for most of us though is the end result and that was nothing short of breath taking. The Touring inspired shapes come out remarkably in the unusual colour of white. Further Ferrari highlights included a dark red 410 SuperAmerica coupe and a similarly liveried 365 California Spyder.
The fleet of Porsches was headlined by a very nice representation of the 356 model with examples ranging from the very earliest Coupes with split front windows to the ultimate SC version of 1965. Also present were various Speedsters and Carreras. It gave spectators a unique insight into the often subtle development of the model that put Porsche firmly on the map. A great help were the signs in front of the cars and the well illustrated entry list. One of the Speedsters was owned from new by the entrant. He had raced the car in every edition of the Monterey Historics. He won his race at the very first edition and eventually finished last in 2007; a good time to retire from racing.
Tuesday: Multi-Marque from 1946 through 1971
If a car or motorcycle was built between 1946 and 1971 and not by Ferrari or Porsche, it could be entered in the second day of the Concours on the Avenue. This resulted in a varied and very interesting field with machinery ranging from Hot Rods to Dune Buggies and stately Rolls Royces. Even more so as on the previous day, the Multi-Marque theme yielded an opportunity to see cars that are only rarely shown in events of this high a profile and certainly not together.
On one of the side streets of Ocean four Volkswagen engined Dune Buggies were lined up. Admittedly our knowledge on that subject was fairly limited and if it wasn’t for our friend and colleague Allan Rosenberg, we would have completely missed how special these were. Among them was the prototype Meyers Manx, which is generally accepted to be the first of the now so familiar fiberglass bodied, Beetle engined buggies. To make matters even more interesting, it was entered by Bruce Meyers himself. Between 1964 and 1971 he constructed around 5000 examples. One was driven to victory in the maiden Mexican 1000 race, which would later attain great fame as the Baja 1000.
Hot Rods, muscle cars and chrome are three of the prime ingredients of American car culture and they were prominently featured on the Avenue. A favourite among hot-rodders is the 1932 Ford and some prime examples were shown here. Don Orosco’s Ford Roadster distinguished itself by featuring an engine complete with a Riley overhead valve conversion. George Riley himself was on hand to discuss one of these conversions, he had originally built in the 1950s. With a nice selection of Mustangs, Corvettes, Cobras and Camaros, the fans of more modern muscle were well cared for. Chrome never looked better than on 1950s American luxury cars like the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, the 1956 Lincoln Continental or the Imperials of that era. It is a shame that despite this great heritage, the American automotive industry is now in such a state of disrepair.
Second only to the American machinery were the small British sports cars of the early 1950s. That’s hardly surprising as for the likes of Morgan, MG and Jaguar California was one of the biggest markets. Many of them were built in very large numbers, but an exception was a Morgan 4/4 Drophead Coupe. Morgans were usually fitted with much simpler roadster bodies and only 51 chassis were equipped with these more elaborate folding roofs. As evident by the entry numbers here, the MG TD and TF models were by far the most popular British sports car of the day. The elegant lines of the small two-seaters were very reminiscent of pre-War machinery despite being built well into the 1950s.
At the end of each day the class winners and the best of show were driven up a ramp to receive the praise from the audience and a crystal award from the organizers. The most important best of show went to Robert Lee’s spectacular Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet prototype on Monday and to a Shelby Cobra 289 competition car on Tuesday. The ex-Shelby team car was entered by Larry Bowman, who had also received the top honours a year earlier for his Corvette Grand Sport.
The two day Concours on the Avenue has stretched the events building up to Pebble Beach to a full week. The unique approach of the organizers ensured that the event does add something to the already very packed week instead of offering more of the same. With no entrance fees and an entry list dripping with quality, it’s hard not to like the Concours on the Avenue. An overview of both days is offered in this packed 180-slideshow