Concours d'LeMons: 11 Awesome Examples of the Automotively Craptastic
After several days of automotive opulence one begins to suffer fabulous-car fatigue syndrome. Luckily Saturday morning of the Monterey Car Week brings the Concours d'LeMons—a Concours d'Ordinaire, or Concours d'Offal, if you will—to serve the same purpose as a palate cleanser during a rich meal. A spinoff of the 24 Hours of LeMons budget racing series, the attendees fall primarily into two groups: nicely preserved examples of cars nobody loves, and dangerously derelict examples of once lovable cars. This year the event featured a separate corral of vehicles that participated in a new LeMons rally event. This five-day trial by fire—or at least searing Death Valley heat—exacted about a 50-percent attrition rate. All hail the survivors!
Read about the 2015 event RIGHT HERE.
1964 Humber Super Snipe
Humber Super Snipes are rare. Vastly rarer are pristine examples, as the cost to bring one up to Concours d'Elegance condition is prohibitive. And anyway, you can probably have more fun driving your Super Snipe on a LeMons rally. Interestingly, this one's original six-cylinder engine still offers the option of crank starting, and to earn extra credit this car's owner crank-started his car each morning!
1990 Ford Festiva Hamster
Two intrepid souls entrusted their lives to a Ford Festiva that they'd shortened by two feet and decapitated before setting off from British Columbia Canada to run the LeMons Rally. They report that the handling is "pretty good at slow speeds, but if you're going fast and the road gets bumpy, the front end can bounce off the ground." Sounds exciting!
"You want HOW MUCH to fix the A/C?! Never mind, I'll do it myself!" How hard can it be to throw a window A/C unit on the trunk, and park a generator next to it to power it. No word on how it affects fuel economy…
1940 Buick Century "Hoopzilla"
Prices are plunging on '40s cars these days, which makes it tough to pencil out a full restoration. It's far easier to justify parting out an old pickup for a major 4x4 lift project, and busting out the welding torch to give the project some Mad Maxian teeth.
Ford Aerostar Lucky 13
Ah youth. When you're young you can hop on a plane to attend a rally, expecting to grab a Craigslist-impulse-purchase as your race car. These brave souls laid out some $300 for a well broken-in Ford Aerostar that quickly revealed itself to be suffering major cooling problems. The work-around? Buy a bunch of tubing, funnels, and water containers to keep things cool. The tube above the driver fed the radiator, the passenger one fed a copper tubing encircling the transmission to keep it cool. The water usage rate was averaging two gallons of water to each gallon of fuel burned.
1961 Rambler Roadster
Here's another owner who opted against restoration in favor of chopping and shortening his rally mount. There's evidence of some lovely metalwork in the panels covering the cockpit and the vestigial rear-seat area.
1961 Panhard PL17 Tigre
Presentation is half the battle and these owners are gunning for the class win in the Unmitigated Gaul division, dressing up as stereotypically as they can muster in French Maid and Marseillaise sailor outfits. It helps that this two-cylinder front-drive miracle of French engineering enjoys the double-whammy of being both homely/unloved and in shabby shape.
1978 SEAB Flipper I
Heard of the Flipper? Kind of an contraindicated name for a top-heavy voiturette with a double-caster front wheel and engine setup. SEAB stands for Societe d'Exploitation et d'Application des Brevet. You may never have heard of them, but they built the plastic bodies for the Citroen 2CV Mehari jeeps. The Flipper I models were unique in having the 47cc Sachs Adix air-cooled engine and transaxle mounted to the front two wheels, which pivoted about a single axis. Reversing the car just meant turning the whole front axle around backwards. You could have any color as long as it was beige or brown. Lovely.
1959 Tempo Matador Camper
This snazzy camper was built by Karosserie Mikafa on a German Tempo Matador truck chassis expressly for the use of the Austro-Hungarian diplomat Count Frigyes Szapary de Szapar, Muraszombat et Szechy-Sziget (that's quite a mouthful—even without the diacritical marks!) and his wife, the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. They used it for two European vacations (in 1959 and 1961), then shipped it to the U.S. to use when traveling between their Pound Ridge, NY homestead and The Breakers Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. They were clearly "glampers" before glamping was cool…
1965 Wolseley Heinz Hornet
The only way to acquire a new Crayford-conversion Wolselely Hornet convertible was to send in two Heinz soup can labels and enter a contest. A total of 57 lucky winners ended up with what must surely be the fanciest of Mini spinoffs, as these cars, converted by Crayford coachbuilders came complete with extras like insulated food cabinets, a 12-volt electric tea kettle, wool tartan blankets, a Brexton picnic hamper, and a makeup tray stocked with Max Factor products! There are 41 known survivors.
Volvo P1900 Sport
The new owner of this gorgeous "Swedish Meatball" class favorite purchased the car on the eve of LeMons, and as of show time had yet to even drive the car. We drove a P1900 Sport owned by Volvo and loved it, so we're sure the new owner will be delighted with this lovely light-blue Swede.