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Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue 2019

As per tradition, Monterey Car Week just opened with the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue, a fantastic show held on the town’s famous Ocean Avenue and open to the public, free of charge. About 160 cars took part, including some very interesting pieces, many with a racing past.

Best in Show

Best in Show went to Phil White’s 1952 OSCA MT4 LM with a Vignale Coupe body. This car, chassis #1120, one of the only four built with this special body designed by Michelotti, was originally bought by Italian gentleman driver Mario Damonte and debuted in the 1952 Pescara 12 Hours, finishing 17thoverall. After racing a couple of times for Damonte, in 1953, by this time part of the works team, it competed at Le Mans, wearing racing number 48. There, it finished 1stin Class and, notwithstanding its small 4-cylinder, 1300 cc engine, 17thoverall. In 1954, it was used for the 1000 kilometers of Buenos Aires, where it again finished 1stin Class, this time with an overall ranking of 11th. Last week’s Carmel show was the first time since the 1950s that the car had been seen in its original color combination of red and blue. “I knew it had raced in Le Mans, and we have some black and white pictures of that”, Mr. White said, but there didn’t seem to be any color pictures from the time showing its original color combination. Therefore I was thrilled when I happened to come across a perfect color shot of my car, taken during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the late Phil Hill’s copy of Doug Nye’s book Inside Track, volume 1.” The car, characterized by long front pontoon fenders, was repainted in its original red on blue shortly before the show.

The last Giulietta Spider Veloce

At first glance, this car could easily be mistaken for a “normal” later production Giulietta Spider Veloce, but on closer inspection it turns out that this White (AR008) 1962 car (chassis #AR 00106*01729), manufactured on February 1stand delivered on April 28thto Alfa Romeo North America Inc., New Jersey, is the very last Giulietta Spider Veloce built before the bigger engined Giulia went into production. On August 18th , 1962, it was sold, through official Alfa Romeo dealer Midwest Auto Imports Inc. of Chicago, IL, to its first owner, a certain Mr. Thomas Herdklotz. He used it as a normal road car until 1969, when, with only 32,200 miles on the clock, it was garaged and partially dismantled to prepare for the 1970 SCCA racing season. Career and family commitments prevented Mr. Herdklotz from going racing, however, and the car, perfectly garaged, remained unused for the following 20 years. It was then purchased by its second and current owner, J.W. Hamen, who finished the dismantling of the car and proceeded with a comprehensive  restoration, preserving, as far as possible, the original parts. “As regards the interior, all the components are original”, Hamen says, remarking that “the side panels were still wrapped in the original plastic when I bought the car, while the seats needed to be re-trimmed. I found perfectly matching original Alfa parts, and it worked!”

The racing rental

Even today, there is much debate over whether Hertz was aware of the weekend destinations of many of its Shelby Mustang GT 350 H (standing for Hertz) cars after it decided, in 1966, to include this model in its rental fleet. The fact is that numerous racers had no compunction about renting one of the 1,001 GT 350 Hs built and taking it racing. Some even used these cars as parts donors, confident that the Hertz employees at the return depot would not be able to tell a normal carburetor from a GT one, or even notice a complete engine swap. Another frequent trick was to hire one of these cars (for 17 dollars a day plus 17 cents a mile), take out its engine, put it in a racing car, and then return it to the hire car after the race. Certainly, many GT 350 Hs had a tough life, and indeed few survive. These cars were available in various colors, all with the trademark longitudinal gold stripe, although most were black. Car 679 (chassis #SFM65679), black with the gold stripe, was originally delivered to Hertz in Michigan. Not thought to have been raced, it ended its rental career in Los Angeles at the end of the 1960s. Six owners and 50,000 miles later, in July 1980, it was bought by its current owners, who used it from the word go. It underwent a complete restoration a few years ago.

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