The Little Car Show brings big smiles to Pacific Grove

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little car show
A Porsche 356 on scenic Lighthouse Avenue | Bob Golfen Photos

The happiest collector car gathering on the Monterey Peninsula took place Wednesday as the annual Little Car Show brought together a cadre of minuscule motoring on the scenic main street of Pacific Grove, California.

Serving as an antidote to the high-end dream cars that populate most of Monterey Car Week, the Little Car Show celebrates the least of them, at least in physical size, from the strangest and teensiest microcars to such familiar fare as Volkswagen Beetles and Austin Minis.

Little Car Show
A bunch of Minis lined up for the show | Daniel Nikkhoo

If nothing else, the show proves that little cars also can be hugely stylish, and they often display the lion’s share of innovation and imagination in doing the most with the least.  And their owners can be the most enthusiastic of hands-on caretakers.

So what makes a vehicle eligible for the Little Car Show?  The basic limitation is that it must have an engine smaller than 1,601 cc, which actually includes quite a wide range of vintage machinery, about 75 of them showing up for the event.

Most of the little cars (and some trucks) at the show were from Europe and Japan, although the U.S. was represented with some awesome critters from Crosley, including a woody wagon and a terrific Hotshot sports car.

Little Car Show
A Fiat 500, Italy’s best-known minicar

England was well-spoken for with a gaggle of MGs, a number of handsome T-series roadsters, MGAs and a very attractive 1958 Magnette Varitone 4-door sedan, one of the bigger cars on site.  There were also a couple of the perennially smiling Austin Healey Bugeye Sprites, British workhorse Morris Minors, pre-war Austin 7s and a Morgan or two.

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There were a few 4-cylinder Porsches – 356 coupes and convertibles, and the later 912s – from Germany, as well as Fiats and Alfa Romeos from Italy.

French cars featured the famed Citroen 2CV, the minimalistic odd-duck 2-cylinder sedans that were made by the millions, as well as a couple of seldom-seen Panhards from the 1950s.

Little Car Show
The tiny Peel P50 Trident seems impossibly little

One regular at the Little Car Show is the tiniest of them all, a Peel P50 Trident 3-wheeled microcar fitted with a bubble roof and a 50cc engine, so small that it can be lifted by hand to change one of its donut-size tires.  Naturally, it attracted a full-size crowd the entire afternoon.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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