It’s not often that you visit a car show where De Tomaso Panteras outnumber MGs by around 10 to one, or you’ll find a Ferrari 512M cosying up to a Willys Jeepster, but then there are few car shows like the Baja Cantina’s Thursday-night gathering during Monterey week.
The Mexican restaurant off California’s Carmel Valley Road is a weekly Mecca for petrolheads and on 18 August, the day before its next-door neighbour The Quail Lodge hosts is exclusive – and expensive – annual concours on the lawn, the dusty car park of the Cantina was packed with classics of all ages and types.
Amid all of the glamour, however, C&SC’s favourite was a rather well-worn exotic, but somehow all the more alluring for its fading paint and war-wounds. German enthusiast George Tuma and wife Stella (above) arrived in the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster that George acquired in Utah in 1985. “When I had the time to restore it, I couldn’t afford it,” he said. “Now I can afford it, but I don’t have the time!”
Another European classic presented in a state that would horrify the Quail judges was expat Brit and Carmel Valley resident Justin Iles’ 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite (above): “Underneath the primer it’s British Racing Green. People keep asking me what colour I’m going to paint it, but I love it as it is and it gets much more attention like this.” Iles moved to the US with his family 12 years ago, and is a regular visitor to the Pebble Beach concours in nearby Monterey.
Muscle cars inevitably make up the bulk of the Baja bash, along with a superb selection of hot rods including the ultra-low ‘Death Trap’ pick-up, with Buick V8 motor and its exhausts and lamps caked in Bonnevile salt.
Elsewhere there were panel-vans, veterans, supercars and a gaggle of Harleys plus, rather incongruously, an Elva Courier (above). Arch-enthusiast Scott Philiben has had the 1961 Mk2 – one of three Couriers he’s owned – for 30 years. “The front end is a lash-up,” he explained of the MG-powered glassfibre sports car, “with a Morris Minor rack and Triumph Herald uprights, but it’s amazingly easy to work on and I love driving it.”
A selection of photos of highlights of the events follows. Double click on the lead image to launch a slideshow of all the images.
Impressive De Tomaso Pantera line up
Fantastic Willys Jeepster.
Chrylser 300 looked cool...
...as did Chevy Camaros.
Nice early Fiat 124 Spider