Baja hosts classic spectacular

| 16 Aug 2013

Huge crowds plus a diverse selection of historic cars and motorcycles packed the car park and lawns surrounding Carmel nightspot Baja Cantina last night for the now-legendary Monterey Week classic car evening. As usual there was a healthy turnout of De Tomaso Panteras (below) at the informal California gathering, but their numbers were dwarfed this year by the selection of Porsche 911s, drawn to the Monterey Peninsula by the 50th-anniversary celebrations taking place at all of the major events from Laguna Seca to Pebble Beach.

Among them was an incongruous British-registered right-hand-drive 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight, brought along by Cody Walker. “It was the first right-hand-drive Lightweight and is one of only 15 built,” said Walker. “It was rallied extensively in 1975 then wrecked in an accident and put away in a garage for 20 years before being restored and brought over to the USA. We couldn’t resist it and have had it about 10 years now.” The RS joins an exotic ’68 R/T in period Gulf livery and a ’57 356 Speedster in Walker’s garage.

Other models turning out in force included seven sunbeam Tigers and a pair of Ferrari Daytonas, but as always with Baja it’s the rarities that fascinate the most. And there were plenty, from a bizarre scaled-up recreation of a 1938 Ford V8 woodie – sitting on a 1992 GMC Suburban chassis – to a Devin-bodied Volkswagen (below), an Alfa GTC and a Westfield Eleven.

Eric Meyer was busy all evening telling fascinated visitors about his 1956 Rometsch Beeskow Cabriolet, which he has owned for just over 20 years. Only 36 are known to still be on the road of the 175 that Johannes Beeskow’s company, built between 1950-’57. “I chased six owners before buying this car,” said Meyer. “The owner needed to sell quickly so he phoned me. He had a list of people to call, and it was just luck that my name was at the top."

"It needed a full rebuild and took three years to restore – the hardest part was finding the bits. I sourced most of them in Europe. The indicator repeaters, for example, came from Holland. I had a lot of specialist help with it. The body is made from aluminium, and I don’t have the metalworking skills for that. It’s got a Volkswagen chassis, Porsche brakes and the dashboard from the Pre-A 356.

"The engine would originally have been an Okrasa, but I’ve fitted a 356 Super 90 unit. The Okrasa is a bit highly strung, and the Porsche engine just makes it more usable. No way would I sell it now – I’d never find another! When they come up for sale, they find a buyer within hours.”

Tom Gloy was a late arrival at Baja with his sublime Mercedes 300SL Roadster (above), but stopped everyone in their tracks as he pulled up and parked in the busy area out front. “I’ve only owned it for a short time,” he said. “I’m a hot-rod guy really – I own three. I’ve always wanted an SL, though, and looked for years before finding this one.

"The styling is just beautiful. It’s certainly living up to my expectations, and I’ve been using it a lot. Maybe some owners wouldn’t bring a car like this here and just park up outside, but it’s supposed to be used. Everything I own, I drive. I just get a kick out of using it, and other people seem to have a lot of fun seeing it.”  

Further photos from Baja follow:

Pretty Alfa Romeo Giulia GTC

American muscle alongside Porsche 911s

Wacky scaled-up Ford V8 on GMC Suburban chassis with various genuine parts

Daytonas sandwich Porsche and Corvette

Westfield Eleven

Volvo 1800S

Smart TR6 among the Brits...

...along with seven Sunbeam Tigers