Porsche dominates the Concours on the Avenue 2017

As is now traditional, the Monterey Classic Car Week officially opened this week with the Carmel by the Sea Concours on the Avenue. Carmel was as beautiful as ever, and its downtown district once again provided the perfect setting to welcome the event’s classic cars. This backdrop, plus a couple of hundred classic cars, certainly added up to a magical sight. When the Concours was first started about 10 years ago, it was spread over two days: the Monday was devoted to Ferraris and the Tuesday to the remaining brands. The second year, however, the show was condensed into one day, with all the brands shown together, and this has been the formula ever since.

Over the years, Porsche has increasingly “taken over” the event, and the 2017 show, held on Tuesday, August 15, will most likely be remembered for the overwhelming number of Porsches on display – too many perhaps, even though most of them were very interesting pieces, with wonderful histories. As always, many racing cars took part in the Concours on the Avenue, driven on open roads, with police escorts, from the nearby Laguna Seca race track. Watching them was a very special and noisy experience!

Concours on the Avenue 2017: Best in Show

Best in Show 2017 went to an amazing 1958 Ferrari 250 TdF, easy to pick out as the potential winner. This car, as well as being perfectly restored to a very high level, has a fascinating and known history and boasts a very long ownership. It was wonderful, during the award ceremony of Concours on the Avenue, to listen to its owner, American collector Charles Betz, describing how he bought the car 53 (yes, fifty-three!) years ago, and has always enjoyed it, driving it as much as possible.

He raced it for more than 20 years and eventually decided, a few years ago, to restore it. He was determined to keep as much of it as possible original, and this really did mean a lot of it! Chassis #0905 GT was completed on May 7, 1958, and sold to Italian gentleman driver “Hippocrate” – the racing pseudonym used by Paolo Ferraro. The body featured some special finishing touches, such as the fine chrome trim around the Plexiglass headlight covers and the sliding side windows, also made from Plexiglass.

The engine (type 128C, number 0905 GT), equipped with Borgo pistons with single oil rings, was bench tested on April 26, 1958 and the steering box was of a more direct type. The car suffered a serious crash during the Targa Florio and was fixed before being sold and sent the USA in the early 1960s. After passing through the hands of several owners, including the father of Indy driver Willy T. Ribbs, who painted it black, the car entered its current ownership in 1966. After being painted in red, it was extensively raced in the USA, before returning to Italy in 1990 to be driven at the historical Mille Miglia. It was painted in its original dark gray color in 2015, while the interior was left in the original palomino shade.

1948 Vauxhall-Zimmerli 18-6 Roadster

The cars on show at Concours on the Avenue included a something we had never seen before. This Vauxhall-Zimmerli 18-6 Roadster, featuring a 2.3-liter, six-cylinder in-line engine and manual three-speed gearbox, is one-off built on a 1948 Vauxhall Velox drivetrain. The original idea, of brothers Warner and Fritz Zimmerli, holders of the General Motors, Chevrolet and Vauxhall franchises in Reiden (Switzerland), had been to manufacture a small series.

The alloy open body, with steel doors, was made by Enrico Basetti. The car was completed in 1950 but not sold until 1968, when it was purchased by a Swiss enthusiast. It was exported to the USA in 2000 and restored in 2008. It is not perfect, given that some “liberties” were taken in its restoration, but it is a very interesting example of a small two-seater convertible.

1976 Porsche 911 – 934 RSR

One of the most appealing Porsches on show at Concours on the Avenue was a bright orange, Jägermeister-liveried, 1976 911 – 934 RSR, one of the about 400 built. The car (chassis #09306700167), equipped with a three-liter engine, was raced in the 1976 German GT series by the Max Moritz team, with Reinhard Stenzel as the primary driver, paired with Helmut Kellners and Derek Bell.

For the 1977 season, the car, upgraded from 480 to 550 HP, was sold to Gianpiero Moretti for his “Momo” team. It was raced in (and won) the Italian GT Championship and also won the Group 4 category at the Silverstone 6 Hours race. In 1980, it was taken to the USA to compete in the US IMSA series, with Derek Bell at the wheel, and carried on racing!

For more impressions of the Concours on the Avenue 2017, please click through our photo gallery:

All images of the photo gallery © Peter Singhof. All other photos © the author.

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