Unloved LeMons prove a pleasant surprise at Monterey


The traditional antidote to the glitz and glamour of Monterey week was back in force this year, with a massive selection of classics you'd never expect to see at a high-end concours decorating the Concours d'LeMons lawn. In truth, the offering was much more enticing than you would expect; among the more ratty classics were some much-loved rarities, such as Michael King's Chevrolet Vega.

"I've had the car for about three years, it's one of four in our collection," said King. "We've also got a '75 model in black, a '76 and a Vega van." The cars form part of the Kings' 85-strong collection. Michael and his brother Larry travelled up from Fresno for the event, and it was their first time at LeMons.

"My favourite car from the collection is a 1965 four-speed Stingray with a 327 motor." And the worst car he's owned? "I've never had a bad Chevy!"

Kirk Wentland and Larry Camuso from San Jose also brought a car from their collection, which is 100 in number. Their 1981 Stutz Blackhawk was gleaming, and drew a massive crowd of onlookers. "It was built in Torino," said Wentland. "It started out as a four-door Pontiac Bonneville before being completely reskinned."

Not only was the car in fantastic condition, but it also had an interesting history: it was bought new by Sammy Davis Jr as a gift for his wife. The marriage didn't last. 

The biggest car on the lawn – and by some margin – was a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, which was driven from San Francisco by its owner Kevin Wood. Not one to shy away from the limelight, Wood sported a matching fedora and pimp stick in the same shade of purple as his car. "I just love '70s full-sized cruisers," said Wood.

"It's my super luxurious royal pimpmobile!"

But it wasn't always in such fine condition. "I found it in Oregon, but it needed some work. Luckily, I got another car for free, but that one was very rusty. It served as a donor vehicle for this car," he said. "Every piece of the buffalo was used!" 

John Hughes from Prunedale is also a fan of big '70s barges, and brought along his 1975 Ford LTD, a '73 Mercury Comet, '76 Chevy Impala police car and an '81 Cadillac Fleetwood. His father Will was in jubilant spirits, and joined the fun by dressing-up in period clothes. He was keen to show-off the LTD's finest feature – an in-car telephone that was in the car when his son bought it. 

"John bought the car about a year ago. He's got 9 vehicles in total – and a big front yard!"

It wasn't just American classics that turned out for the show – an Austin Somerset Woody also smoked onto the lawn. "The fumes were awful, we still need to restore it," said Mara Brill, the car's owner. 

Brill and her partner recently moved to Monterey from Silicone Valley, and haven't always been interest in Austins, despite now owning several. "It all started with an Austin A35," said Brill. "I saw one online and put a bid in, and before I knew it I'd won it. I said to my husband: 'I have something to tell you – you're not going to like it!"



Brilliant. Now this would go some way to deflating Goodwood's ego if someone organised the same nearby..............................

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