Concours on the Avenue 2019
You know it’s going to be a good car show when the cars parked on the street on the way to the event are better than any show in recent memory. Such was the case this August 13th for the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Street parked along various curbs throughout the village were a Bugatti Chiron, a Ferrari 275 Spyder, a stunning Iso Grifo, and a multitude of vintage 911s. This tiny village of just under 3,900 full-time residents is situated on edge of the Pacific in California’s stunning Central Coast, is home to some of the most desirable real estate anywhere in the continental U.S. Held each year on Tuesday during Monterey Car Week, the Concours on the Avenue draws some of the most stunning rolling art anywhere in the automotive world, and with it a crowd that will nearly quadruple the population, if only for a day.
The Concours runs most of the length of Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main drag and chic shopping district. The fog from the Pacific had just cleared as the entrants for this year’s show began rolling in. The day proved to be sunny and mild, with highs in the mid-70s. There was a running commentary heard over a public address system from this year’s guest emcee, Sports Car Market Editor-at-Large Donald Osborne.
The Concours is unlike many others in that a constant stream of amazing cars, and their owners, graces the event dais. Interviews and commentary entertain and inform the show attendees. The cars themselves are compelling, but as we all know, it’s the story that makes great cars even more fascinating.
Gary Wales brings a different, fascinating creation to the Concours each year, as he has for decades. For the past several years, Mr. Wales has brought a series of wild creations built on antique American-LaFrance fire trucks converted into massive two-seat roadsters with monstrous-displacement engines. “I like to save old fire trucks. I find that the American LaFrance embodies most of the components of the great racers of the heroic age. Last year, I had La Bestioni here. I bring one every year.” This year’s entry was a bit of a departure from his fantastic roadsters. This year, Mr. Wales brought a recreation of Harley Earl’s Buick Y-Job. The stunningly accurate (if only in appearance) replica garnered plenty of attention. Built on a 1941 Cadillac chassis, it sports a more modern Chevrolet drivetrain, but the exterior is every inch Harley Earl’s breakthrough concept car. The San Fernando Valley resident said, “This is the only copy of the Y-Job in the world. It’s all metal.”
Vince Scully brought a 1932 Lincoln tribute to the Concours as a display entry. When asked about the car, Vince said,” It’s a ’32 Lincoln. It’s a tribute car to Walter Murphy Coachworks. The body was built in the 1980s, for a project that died. The guy wanted to replicate the Murphy ’32 Lincoln that Murphy Coachworks was trying to sell to Lincoln. The project sort of died; the car sat around for 30 years. We picked it up in 2011. It was a two-year build. We started building in 2011, and we finished in 2013, so it’s been on the road for six years. We resto-modded it, made a daily driver out of it. It’s got a Corvette LS3 motor, a GMC six-speed automatic, but most importantly it’s got a modern hot rod aftermarket suspension. The front and rear independent suspension is by Heidt. The rear is like a gigantic Jaguar set-up with inboard disc brakes, two shocks and two springs at each end. It has radial tires and sway bars, so it rides perfect. We’ve put 8,000 miles on it. It commutes to work, gets groceries, goes to the movies. It’s a short commute to work. It’s my brother’s car. He lives in San Francisco, and he drives across the Bay Bridge to work every day.” Vince said this was his first time attending the show. “This is my first year at the Concours. The previous years, they would have shot me for driving this! Finally, it’s open to resto-mods.”
There were a number of spectacular examples to cross the stage, such as a Mini Cooper/Lamborghini Miura S pairing in celebration of the fifty year anniversary of ‘The Italian Job’, a small cadre of road-going Shelby Cobras, a Ferrari 330 GT, a Ferrari F40, an OSCA MT4 Vignale, even a VW Microbus. Event sponsor Acura brought an impressive display of their current model line including an NSX coated in the new Indy Yellow Pearl, and a race-prepped NSX GT3 Evo bodied in a fat-weave carbon fiber body.
Attendee and vintage Corvette dealer Jack Wallace said, “This was a perfect 10. Very well organized-much more than your average car show. This was a salon for the very best to be found. The organization was first-rate.”