Classic Cars

This E30 M3 Racer at Concours on the Avenue Was to Die For

We also learned the Matra M530 is a (very cool) thing.

One of our favorite shows each year is the Concours on the Avenue, a completely free and low-key show that takes place on the quaint streets of downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. While finding a place to park is always a bit of a chore, once you’re settled, simply wander up one side of Ocean Avenue and then back down the other side. Both are lined with dozens of classics from Fords to Ferraris and there’s something for just about every car nut to geek out over. Attend next year for yourself and you’ll probably come to think of it as the best “cars and coffee” type event that you’ve ever been to—and the coffee and biscotti is even free, courtesy of show sponsor Acura. Here are six cars we’d like to drive home from the Concours on the Avenue during Monterey Car Week 2019.

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Mini Cooper Mark VII

It’s easy to forget that that the original Mini Cooper, launched in 1959, soldiered on in the U.K. marketplace well into the 1990s—more than five million Minis were sold in that duration. This is one of the final iterations of Mini Cooper, a seventh-generation car that features an airbag-equipped steering wheel, full-length dashboard, more upscale interior, and revised engine mounts that allowed a 1.3-liter engine to be installed. In this Mini, the owner took things a step further, installing a contemporary Honda VTEC engine for a little extra grunt.  This was one of several Minis at the concours.

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1967 Porsche 911S

There were no shortage of Porsches on hand at this year’s Concours on the Avenue, but there was only one that won its class at the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona. This is the car. With an air-cooled 2.0-liter flat-six hung out back making around 160 horsepower, the little Porsche even managed to finish in ninth place overall at Daytona that year, certainly beating out some larger-displacement machines in the process.

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1986 BMW M3

This E30-series M3 is from the very first year of production and was shown in full race specification. In fact, it contested the Japanese Touring Car Championship from 1986 to 1992 and finished second in the championship in its final year of action. We believe it was uprated to Evo spec at some point down the line, which would most significantly mean an increase in displacement for the front-mounted inline-four from 2.3 to 2.5 liters.

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1969 Matra M530

Nearly every year at Concours on the Avenue we see a car that we’ve never, ever seen before—for us, that’s pretty rare. This year, one of those cars was this Matra. Most famous to enthusiasts for its Le Mans and Formula 1 race cars, Matra is a French automaker that also manufactured things like bicycles and even military weaponry. This M530 is the first Matra road car to be fully developed in-house and it was named after an air-to-air missile that Matra also produced at the time. With a steel chassis, GRP body panels, and a Ford V-4 engine making some 73 horsepower, this little M530 is one of 9,609 to have been produced.

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1982 Lancia 037

When Lancia needed a replacement for its aging Stratos in World Rally Championship events, it turned to another mid-engine car in its lineup: the Lancia Beta Montecarlo (otherwise known as the Lancia Scorpion in the U.S.). Lancia—and Abarth, which developed the car—needed its rally machine to be production-based, but only loosely so. The central cabin, from windscreen to rear bulkhead, was the only part of the road car to be used, as the rest of the bodywork, intricate tube-frame suspension setup, and other bits were specific to the 037. Just over 200 037 Stradales were built for the road to homologate the race cars, this being one of the competition versions. The engine was based on the famous Lampredi twin-cam 2.0-liter motor found in the Montecarlo, but turned longitudinally and supercharged for 300 horsepower or more in race trim. The 037 was the last successful rear-wheel-drive Group B rally car.

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1964 Sunbeam Tiger

Take a small British sports car, shove an American V-8 engine in it and what do you get? No, this isn’t a Shelby Cobra, but it is another Carroll Shelby creation called the Sunbeam Tiger. Based on the four-cylinder Sunbeam Alpine, the Tiger carries a 289-cubic-inch Ford V-8 up front along with a host of modifications to make sure the rest of the car is up to the increased power. Big engine, little car—we like. And best of all, a Tiger can be yours for well under $100,000. Not so, the Shelby Cobra.

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