Monterey Car Week: Concours on the Avenue kicks things off

Gallery Carmel Concours 15 Photo 21

Classic and vintage cars on display

The semi-official kickoff of the crazy week of car culture started on the Tuesday before Pebble with the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

“It was a wonderful day in Carmel,” said Concours on the Avenue founder and main spring Doug Freedman. “A chamber of commerce day. A good time was had by all.”

Freedman is perhaps the most enthusiastic person on a Monterey Peninsula full of car enthusiasts. His optimism is what has driven this concours for nine years now, even through the dark days of the recession when it ran on a shoestring budget, some bailing wire and Freedman’s own good will. Now things are better, much better. There are sponsors: Meguiar’s, Zenith watches and several others. The presence of sponsors may not seem like a big deal to more established events, but to a home-grown gathering like this it represents a big step in the growth process. Acura upped its sponsorship this year with a hospitality area and a showing of its NSX -– the new NSX.

“This  is our third year sponsoring the event, and we’ve found it to be a great fit for Acura and a great way to kick off the Monterey Car Week,” said Acura’s Sage Marie. “This year is all the more special because we’re able to bring out the new NSX for all the enthusiasts here to see.”

“They’re good at getting a really odd collection of cars there: vintage racers, Delahayes, tons of Porsches,” said Jonathan Ward, who brought his 1954 DeSoto Powermaster wagon re-engineered by his own company, ICON. 

Ferrari in Carmel

This concours specializes in Porsches from 1948 to 1989 and Ferraris from 1947 to 1989, with 13 classes for each of those marques. But there were also 13 “multi-marques” for cars from 1940 to 1973 that included everything from hot rods and muscle cars to micro cars and motorcycles, along with traditional classes like American luxury and Italian sport.

A new category this year was called the patina class, what might be considered “preservation” or “unrestored” at other concours. But while an unrestored car could be just a barn find that got a new battery, in Carmel it referred to cars that have been continuously driven and used their whole lives.

“They’re not survivors, they’re not preservation cars, they’re warriors,” said Freedman. “They’ve lived a life of purpose.”

There were five patina-class cars this year: L.A. collector Mike Malamut brought a VW double-cab Type II that still had the Pan American Airlines logos on the side from when it worked as a tarmac vehicle. Other patinas included a Porsche 356 A coupe that has “seen heavy duty for years and looked it,” a Porsche Speedster, a Series I Land Rover and a 911 coupe with “service rust.”

“When you look at those cars you know how authentic they are,” said Freedman. 

Porsche at Carmel

In all, there were just over 200 cars in place over 18 blocks of downtown Carmel.

“It was a good showing of cars,” said emcee Ed Justice Jr., scion of the Justice Brothers legacy and president of that company.

And the good show was seen by a good crowd. It’s always difficult to gauge, but this year there were maybe 10,000 to 12,000 people ogling the automobiles, all for free.

The setting is unique, too, not just for being held in the streets of Carmel, but because Carmel itself was built to look like a story-tale village.

“(It) looks like a fairy-tale village in Bavaria,” said Corvette guru Michelangelo “Corvette Mike” Vietro, who brought his ’63 split-window Stingray.

Best in Show went to a Cisitalia so rare that even the most ardent enthusiast might not have heard of it: Phil White’s long-tailed 1947 202 MM Berlinetta that took second in class at the 1947 Mille Miglia and third overall.  

This show is easily the best reason to get to the Monterey Peninsula early. As Ward says, “I’m a cheap (fellow) and I like things that are free, and this is a great free show.”

Can’t argue with that.

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