Austrian super-rarity is star car at the Baja Cantina


Star of the show at the mid-Monterey Week car night at the Baja Cantina was tucked away discreetly and one of the least recognised classics on display.

Visitors could be forgiven for not instantly spotting the understated, vaguely Porsche 356-alike Denzel, though.

With a  total of fewer than 300 cars built in Austria by Wolfgang Denzel through the 1950s, the VW-based car performed well in European competition, but didn't take off commercially. 

Denzel was later instrumental in the BMW 700, the car that many think turned BMW around and gave it the foundation to become the powerhouse it is today.

The Denzel may have been overshadowed by the louder, glitzier fare at the buzzing Carmel Valley night, but there was plenty of good stuff on show.

Much of the attention was reserved for an second-glance-prompting Porsche 917 replica from South Africa. Manufactured by Bailey cars, it is built on a tubular chassis with a Porsche flat-six mounted amidships.

The Thursday-evening meet at the Cantina used to be one of the best-kept secrets of Monterey Week, but word is certainly out now, with the car park a crush and many great classics unable to get a parking spot.

It would be churlish to criticise the abundance of modern muscle, however, when the beauty of the event is all manner of cars from vintage to new, rep to real, all being appreciated cheek by jowl.

There is always a strong turnout of Latin exotica and this year there was a trio of Daytonas and a quartet of Panteras (not all parked together), but when it comes to numbers, no model outgunned the Sunbeam Tiger with more than 10 dotted around the Cantina car park.

More pictures from Thursday night:


Don Callum

So James what model is the red coupe with the white roof and interior and double headlamps?

Chris Martin

The red coupe is a Packard believe it or not. A 1958 Hardtop, which was really just a Studebaker with different bumpers, grille and quad headlights. Not a success it was the last year of Packard production.
Nice to see one now though.
Nice to hear of a good turn out by the Tigers in a world obsessed with Cobras too.
Chris M.



We can help you with some facts! There were only 75 Denzels made in about a 10-year period. They actually made one last Denzel in 1960. There are about 25 known to exist worldwide. The one at the Baja Cantina was a Nov., 1957 "Road and Track" test car, a "Sports Car Illustrated" test car, and raced at Pomona in early 1958...looking just like it did in 1958 when at the Baja Cantina last Thursday evening.

Add your comment

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br> <img>
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

You must be logged in to comment
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.