Austrian super-rarity is star car at the Baja Cantina

| 17 Aug 2012

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: