Geographically, socially and culturally, the Monterey Peninsula is like nowhere else on Earth. And that holds true on the area’s highways and byways as well, where on any given day of the week it’s possible to see a rare, top-of-the-marque example of automotive art cruse by. We’ve become perhaps a little jaded, barely glancing at a vehicle that would cause a pile-up of rubbernecking drivers in, say, Kokomo, Indiana.
California in general is like that, our sublime climate and roads free of steep-eating salt have allowed automobiles to remain in showroom cosmetic condition with just a minimum of upkeep. That’s led to a car culture that permeates our society like oil on a grease monkey’s coveralls. We love -no, adore- our cars, naming them, babying them, buying toys and accessories for them, identifying ourselves and in some cases even pinning our self-esteem on them.
Here we showcase six Peninsula residents telling the stories of their favorite cars. These are not garage queens, but like their owners, are living, breathing, productive creatures, well loved and cared for, they truly are members of their perspective families.
Carmel Valley• Businessman, Entrepreneur
1972 CITROËN DS 21
This car is the reason I live here. I was driving it to San Francisco in the early ’70s when the transmission went out in Carmel. Citroën parts were kind of hard to find in those days so it took three weeks to be repaired. In the meantime, I’d rented a house and was recruited to sit on the board of the Forest Theater. Been here ever since.
The Citroën D was way ahead of its time. It was designed by Italian sculptor Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer André Lefebvre and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever built, or the ugliest…depends on who you’re talking to. Personally, I love it.
The steering, brakes, suspension and transmission are all hydraulic. When you start the car, it lifts automatically. That gives it a smooth, super comfortable ride. It’s all about safety, too. For instance, the spare tire is in the front and that would absorb the impact in a head-on crash. Lucky me: I’ve never had to test that feature.
Every year around Concours time I get multiple offers to sell this car. But I won’t. I love it too much and it reminds me of how I got to live in this fantastic place.”
Carmel Valley • Pace car Driver, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
1968 CHEVROLET CAMARO
My great-grandfather owned the Monterey Chevy dealership, Roller Chevrolet, from 1934 until the early 1970s. He had two daughters and in 1968 gave each of them a brand new Camaro. My grandmother, CharlotteTice, eventually sold hers. This is the car that belonged to my great aunt Jeanette.
My dad was always into cars, and I inherited that gene. I didn’t know
about this car until Jeanette passed away. She willed it to the family with the stipulation that we not sell it. It had been sitting idle for a while, but it did run. With a little maintenance, it was good to go and now runs like a champ. Although I run an automobile restoration business, we chose not to do a restoration on this Camaro. It’s all original, and has a little wear and tear..a scratch here and there. It’s broken in, there’s nothing to worry about.
We all take this car out. It’s great for tooling around town, or cruising down the coast for lunch at Nepenthe.”
Monterey • Owner/Operator Doctor Detail
1955 CHEVROLET SEDAN
“I bought this car in 1999 from the original owner. It was pretty messed up; needed paint and lots of mechanical works. Since the owner was an, ummm, shall I say interesting character, the car has been through a lot in its life. It;s been wrecked a couple of times, has been in a few chases and has been shot at. There’s a repaired bullet hole in the hood.
This Chevy also had a racing history in Los Angeles. With a Big Block 409 under the hood, she won a lot of drag races. In those days, a shrunken head hung from the car’s rear view mirror pretty much at all times. That meant the owner was ready to race. Fuzzy dice meant, ‘I’m just cruising.’ I’m still rockin’ the shrunken head…I’m always up for a challenge. It’s impossible to own that car and be a good boy.
My ’55 now sports a Big Block 454 and the garage shakes when I start her up. It’s not a perfect example by any means, but still turns heads.”
Carmel • Financial Services
1953 FORD F100
Twenty-five years ago I had a dream that I would live in Carmel and drive a funky old truck. Never thought that those things would come true, but they did!
I bought Betsy from a farming family in Nampa, Idaho, in 2006. They were the original owners and didn’t really want to sell her—they were asking way too much. I had her shipped back to Arizona where I lived and turned her over to a 20-something guy who was just getting his restoration business off the ground. I said, ‘I’ll give you a year. Treat her as your own.’ This is the result.
Betsy has a small-block Chevy engine now—something Ford purists don’t like but Chevy fans do. She’s been completely redone from the frame up and the gorgeous seafoam green paint is the same color she wore when she rolled off the line in Detroit. And believe it or not, 61-yearold Betsy is also hands-down the most reliable car I’ve ever owned.
Shortly after I moved here, I stopped at Baja Cantina in Carmel Valley for dinner. I didn’t know that it was a Hot Chili Nights auto show. When I got back to her, there was a certificate under her windshield wiper. Betsy had won 17th place for the day.
I love this truck. She never fails to put a smile on my face.”
Carmel • Retired LAPD Officer
1962 CHEVROLET IMPALA CONVERTIBLE
I’ve always been a car guy. As I grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island, I progressed from playing with toy cars to drag racing my first car, a 1964 Pontiac Catalina with my buddies on the Sunrise Highway. So naturally, I was in heaven when I moved to Southern California to take a job with the LAPD. That area has a lot of cool cars.
One day while on patrol, I pulled over an elderly gentleman for a minor traffic violation. When I got close to the vehicle I knew that I had to have this car, so I told him I wanted to buy it. The guy laughed but said no. We talked for a while and I didn’t give him a ticket. I let him off with a warning and gave him my number in case he ever changed his mind about selling. Lo and behold, a few years later he called and said ‘Come and get your car.’
This Chevy is bone stock original. Under the hood, it even has the original glass bottle used to store spare windshield washer fluid. Also, it’s equipped with factory air conditioning, a rare find on a convertible.”
Carmel Valley • Owner, Baja Cantina and Turn 12 Restaurants
1940 PACKARD 110 JUNIOR WOODIE
Packard made 58 of these Woodies, and I’ve heard that there are only about 10 of them left. It had an older restoration when I bought it. The bodies were made by a third party; in 1940 that was the Hercules Company. This car is unique and fun. I owned, drove and loved a ’46 Ford Woodie for many years but when the opportunity came up to buy this super-rare car, I jumped on it.
This model was called a ‘Junior’ because it has an in-line 6 cylinder motor. But it has overdrive and runs as fast as my ’46 Ford!
Woodies were like station wagons, the predecessor to today’s SUV. This one is a people mover: it has three seats and sits six to eight people comfortably. At one time they were called ‘depot hacks’ because they were used at train stations to ferry passengers around.
I love driving this car and took it to Woodies on the Wharf in Santa Cruz in June and I’m going to show it at the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel on Tuesday, August 12 during Car Week. It’s a super fun car and a real head-turner…truly an American icon.”