Monterey 2014 – 5 Days of Automotive Porn – Day 2

Thursday – The Tour

The Morning Mists of Monterey

If, like your correspondent, your accommodations are outside the local (read: event-inflated) area, you have to get up pretty early to park within walking distance of the start of the Tour d’Elegance. They don’t leave until 8:00 but it’s exciting to watch them unloading their precious cargo from the transporters and staging them, while munching a donut from the Hagerty courtesy tent.

Among the first cars staged was Jon Shirley’s unusual 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe, rebodied by Scaglietti after a crash. It went on to be the first postwar car in 46 years to win Best in Show at the Big Event.

1954 Ferrari 275 MM

Lucas King of the Road Headlight on Daimler

Above: Last year’s sunny start was an anomaly, and this year Monterey’s usual morning mist sparkled the gleaming brass of the 106 year-old Daimler TC48 Roi des Belges’ Lucas King of the Road Headlamp.

1910 American Underslung

The first car one sees upon entering the Streetscape at the Petersen Museum is a 1911 American Underslung. Seeing William Johnson and Ronald Elenbaas’ 1910 Traveler Toy Tonneau (above) gives one hope that when the Museum is through with its remodel, their car will have been restored to this level of quality.

Ruxton at Tour Start

The Petersen Automotive Museum entered one of the rarest cars from the classic era, a 1929 Ruxton C Roadster built by Baker-Rauling. There were some sixteen Ruxtons entered in a special class this year, out of a total production of fewer than a hundred.

Yellow Testa Rossa

This year there was a special class for the legendary Ferrari Testa Rossas, like this 1959 example from Bruce McCaw, in Belgian racing colors. It won ten international races between 1959 and 1961. I don’t speak Italian, but if the name of the carrozzeria that designed and built its body – Fantuzzi – doesn’t mean “fantasy,” it should.

NART Spyder

Dr. Rick and Angie Workman of Windermere, Florida brought one of ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4S Spyders built. If two is a trend, then these cars tend to be sold at auction for good causes. Last August a one-family car sold in Monterey at RM for 25 million dollars (plus fees) with all proceeds going to charity. The guide does not say how much this one brought for its causes in 1998.

Bojangles Duesey

Rob Hilarades of Visalia, California drove the 1935 Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Duesenberg JN. Much of the uproar over the divestiture of some of the cars in the Petersen Collection was just noise, but this one must have hurt. An African-American who could afford a $17,000 Duesenberg during the depression, when a Ford was about $500, was a historical phenomenon. But the Petersen also has a terrific SJ. Tough decision.

GT40 MK III

Like the Jaguar XK-SS, the Ford GT40 MKIII was essentially a race car made street legal (With more ground clearance, the 40 inch height that inspired the name probably does not apply.), and even fewer – only seven – were built. One is in the Petersen Museum’s collection and on display in Los Angeles in their “Worlds Greatest Sports Coupes” exhibit. This is Gary W. Bartlett’s of Muncie, Indiana.

Multiple Chances

Fortunately, if all you want to do is see the cars, there are at least three other opportunities.

Along the Route

Download the 75-mile route from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance website and choose a spot where you can see and photograph the cars against a scenic backdrop, of which there is an abundance.

Bixby Bridge is a popular spot, but you either get good pictures of the cars, or an image that shows the bridge to advantage. It’s a problem of scale.

Bixby Bridge

Coming north from the Los Angeles area in 2009, I timed my arrival (you have to leave really early) at Bixby Bridge so that I could photograph the Tour cars as they passed in both directions. I also saved a night’s lodging. This is the one shot that showed the bridge’s historic concrete arches. If there had been cars on the bridge, they’d have come out tiny.

Bixby Bridge Variety 02

 With patience and a tripod in 2010. A Bugatti leads Aston Martin, Tatra, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Duesenberg, with a Packard bringing up the rear. Usually the tour cars are mixed in with rented tourist Hyundais, construction contractors’ rigs, and trucks delivering supplies to the shops and restaurants in Big Sur.

Right at the corner of Rio Road and Pacific Coast Highway is where I first saw them, and there is parking nearby. Or just park along PCH south of there, anywhere it’s legal.

The Carmel Assembly

The next opportunity is when the cars are gathered on Ocean Avenue for public display. Be warned. It appears the entire Monterey Peninsula knows about this and descends on Carmel for this event. Parking within ten blocks is nearly impossible after about 10:00, and the cars do not start to arrive until about noon. Wear comfortable shoes and carry liquids.

Despite the hassles, this is an extraordinary opportunity, one that must give the owners of these beautiful, valuable, and meticulously prepared cars ulcers. If you attend, you are begged to exercise restraint, and keep your children, pets, riveted Levi’s, dangling cameras, and belt buckles well away from them.

Sir Sterling

With the press of the crowd, photography at the Carmel display is hard to get, and besides, for me there was the start, and there’s always Sunday. I concentrated my efforts toward elbowing my way through the mob trying to get a shot of Sir Stirling Moss, author of the greatest open road race performance of all time, the 1955 Mile Miglia, in Mercedes SLR number 722 (for its order of departure), sitting in his 300SL Gullwing.

Lastly and most obviously, you can pay the $275 per person ($300 on Event Day) and actually go to the Concours on Sunday. You can get a free program, poster, catered breakfast and lunch, and VIP parking by purchasing Club d’Elegance passes. Last I looked these were about $450 per person, but by 2015 they may have gone up. If you split the cost of one pass among a carload of attendees, the parking alone is almost worth the premium. (It’s only good for two admissions.) You’ll need to draw straws to see who gets the free stuff.

Carma is a publication of
The OM Dude Press
a service of
Options in Mobility

Author, Editor, Publisher, Reporter, Historian, Archivist:
Dick Stewart.

All photographs are by the Author unless otherwise indicated.

Click on the images to view more detail. If the cursor is a plus sign in a circle, clicking again will yield full resolution.

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About carmacarcounselor

I'm one of those people that friends call "that car guy," except I've made it into a profession. Since 1988 when a friend found my help in choosing, finding, and negotiating for a new car was worth a fee, I've helped countless people, listening to their car questions and challenges, and helping with their car purchases, insulating them from the adversarial process that is the new car retail model today. Their word of mouth is my only publicity. My newsletter CARMA won the description "The clear crystal ring of truth" from award-winning automotive journalist Denise McCluggage. Now I'm going global!
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