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That whole Pebble thing can be a little overwhelming, but at its heart, it’s all about our mutual and universal love of cool cars. Why do we love cool cars? Well, everyone has a story…

“I’m standing there in eighth grade in the high school seniors’ parking lot — where I don’t belong — and there’s a gorgeous R-Code four-speed Galaxie convertible parked there, dark blue with a light blue interior, and out come Janet Walford and Sandy Farrell.” This was Concours founder Doug Freedman, explaining why, after all these years, he still loves R-Code Galaxies — and maybe why you still love whatever car it is you long for, and whomever your own personal Janet Walford and Sandy Farrell are. “They get in and I am smitten, blown away, bamboozled. These were girls who, if you saw them coming down the hallway at school, you would press yourself against the wall to get out of the way because you’re not worthy, and they’re getting into a car that was simply overpowering.”

Porsche at Carmel Concours

Porsches were popular at Carmel Concours Photo by Ed Justice Jr.

He still can’t get over it all. Which explains, perhaps, why there was a triple-black R-Code four-speed Galaxie convertible at the Concours on the Avenue this year. And why there were 190 other cars, all equally cool in their own ways to their owners, at least, and maybe to others, too, strewn all over the normally bucolic streets of the fairy tale town of Carmel. Perhaps nowhere on the Monterey Peninsula is that unvarnished, easy autolove better represented than on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue, the town’s main drag, which, along with almost every side street for a block or two around, is closed off and crammed with cars.

This year, the cars were categorized into three groups of 13 classes each: Porsches from 1948 to 1989, Ferraris from 1947 (in case anyone ever shows up with a 125 S) to 1989, and the catchall “Multi Marques” from 1940 to 1973. The show takes up 18 blocks total, counting all the side streets that are also closed down, all filled up with curated cars. Curated, because this is not a Show N’ Shine, where just anyone shows up and parks his or her hooptie. You have to apply, and Doug and a squadron of dedicated volunteers choose what’s cool enough to cruise in. But nonetheless, the field was diverse, with cars everyone lusted after, as well as cars only a mother, or a kooky owner, could love.

“It’s the greatest Cars n’ Coffee in the world,” said Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market (now in its 30th year!). “It’s a very high-level place where people can just come and kick tires. This (the whole Pebble Beach phenomenon) is a week for high stakes and big egos and lots of pretension, in some cases, and you don’t find that at Concours on the Avenue. It’s a buffet of interesting cars.”

Indeed, Martin himself brought a Bradley, a kit car made of fiberglass built on a Volkswagen chassis.

“It’s a profoundly bad car,” he said.

The Bradley

The Bradley

But the rest of the show, while there was a class of Cyclops, had some lovely vehicles.

”They had a class of Carrera RS,” said Martin in amazement. “Those are $500,000 to $700,000, and they were stacked up like cordwood. It seemed like most of those cars were driven there.”

“It shows that the enthusiasm for collector cars is not somehow limited to the exclusive lawns of Pebble Beach and the Quail Lodge,” said collector car broker Andrew Reilly, who has lent his expertise to positions at the Mullin Automotive Museum as well as Gooding & Co., and Bonhams. “It’s unpretentious, free, well-attended and offers a broad variety of people — the people who are showing their cars are all in attendance and very approachable.”

“There were some really interesting cars,” said classic car expert Donald Osborne, whom you may recognize as the host of the “Assess and Caress” segment of “Jay Leno’s Garage.” They had a really terrific Citroen class, two absolutely fascinating classes for vintage racing karts and quarter midgets and a VW class. The number of long-term owners, people who have owned their cars for 30 or 40 years, was absolutely sensational. The fellow who won the Citroen class had owned his 1964 DS21 Chapron-bodied convertible for 12 or 15 years. It was just absolutely sensational.”

The enthusiasm was universal.

“It was a fantastic show,” said first-timer Gian Moriconi, whose 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T was one of the American muscle cars and who was like a kid in a carlike candy store. “The Porsche presence was amazing, the 1970s Carrera RSes were amazing to see, as well as the Speedsters. Also, the 502 Motorworks Spyder the Bentley B Special No. 1 was amazing! And the Silver Ferrari that GTO Engineering brought, along with the 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB was incredible.”

And it was big. A fairly good estimate by Freedman pegged attendance this year at 28,000.

“It was the largest crowd they’ve ever had,” said co-emcee Ed Justice Jr. “From opening to finish, it was full all day long. I really like this show because of all the variety in the cars that show up here. This is more about the car culture than some of the events in Monterey this week.”

So when you’re planning for next year’s Week, justify getting here a little early for Carmel. You won’t be disappointed. And if anyone sees either Janet Walford or Sandy Farrell, tell them Doug says hi.