The Monterey car show that’s absolutely heavenly

The Monterey car show that’s absolutely heavenly

Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.

There was one woman, sitting alone on a pew Wednesday morning in the huge sanctuary at the Basilica of San Carlo Borromeo de Camelo Mission on the Monterey Peninsula in northern California. Perhaps she was praying for family and friends, or perhaps for her car to win an trophy later in the afternoon at the annual Carmel Mission Classic and the Blessing of the Cars by the Most Reverend Sylvester Ryan, bishop of the Diocese of Monterey.

With Monterey Car Week 2018 revving up, perhaps there should have been more people seeking heavenly guidance about showing and selling, buying and bragging in seemingly non-stop activities that don’t conclude until the Best of Show is announced Sunday afternoon at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Mission Classic is one of many other car shows that fill the Car Week calendar and, even if you don’t take time to pray, it provides a change of scenery and pace from many of the other events. 

For one thing, it is organized by the parish Knights of Columbus, a church-based fraternal organization that supports various charities. For another, many of the cars are parked within the walls of the historic California mission that dates to the 18th century, when it was the second of the 21 California missions established along what would become the west coast of the United States.

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This was the sixth year for the show. As you might expect in such a setting, featured vehicles included a 1927 Packard 343 convertible sedan formerly owned by Phil Hill and currently part of the collection of the Academy of Art University and museum in San Francisco; a 1937 Cord 812 cabriolet formerly owned by E. L. Cord himself and now displayed by his grandson, Chris Cord; and a stunning 1940 Packard Darrin JC Taylor AC-77-102-037 presented by the California Driving Museum.

John Lapori’s drag racing Funny Car was displayed in the courtyard of the Shrine of Saint Junipero Serra

But you might have been startled had you wandered through the courtyard and chapel and out into the separate courtyard near the Shrine of Saint Junipero Serra, where the fourth featured vehicle, a 1967 Buick Skylark GS400 drag racing Funny Car, was parked in all of its high-horsepower, loud-enough-perhaps-to-wake-the-dead-from-the-adjacent-graveyard glory.

But that’s one of the delights of this show, that you know you’ll see some fabulous classics, and the newest in modern supercars, and that the day includes wine-tasting (each visitor receives a souvenir wine glass), but the majority of the cars on display provide a surprise and delight experience.

 

Hupmobile showed this car in Australia in a vain effort to find a new market for its cars

The Hupmobile hood ornament

For example, the eye-catching, two-tone, 1930s-era coupe that turns out to be a 1936 Hupmobile Aerodynamic Coupe that was one of Raymond Lowey’s early automotive styling efforts. 

The car has a waterfall grille, semi-recessed headlamps, chrome flashes on its hood, Art Deco design touches, a rumble seat, and a Flash Gordon-like spaceship hood ornament. 

The car is owned by Dana Newquist, who explained that by 1936, Hupmobile was suffering financially and saw Australia as a potential market, so it created his one-off and originally right-hand-driven Aerodynamic Coupe to send Down Under for the 1936 Sydney Auto Show. 

But the effort was too late. Hupmobile closed in 1937. Meanwhile, some years later, the car found its way back to the U.S., where Newquist found it languishing in very poor condition in the California desert. Not only did he restore the car, but equipped it with left-hand drive so he could be more comfortable when he drives it.

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