Concours d’Lemons CA 2016 – Photos and “Winners”

Posted August 26, 2016

This rolling train wreck of bad fortune and good ideas gone sour again sullied Laguna Grande Park in Seaside, check California, August 20, adding a lighter note to an otherwise serious weekend. When Ferraris are trading across town for seven figures, perhaps you need to check out something that simply makes all comers smile—like Michael Johnson’s jacked-up, woodie-trimmed 1972 Ford Squire wagon; Patti L. Crowder’s all-steel, witch-themed Model A; or Kevin Palmer’s perfectly mint 1976 Renault R16, a car that fully describes the word “tan.”

The coveted Worst in Show award went to Christopher Blizzard’s 1974 Brickin SV-1, a hodgepodge of questionable engineering, dubious racing pedigree and naughty words. Plus it wore a giant foam hat. 

This year’s shows attracted the biggest crowd to date, while the expanded judge’s roster included the likes of Bill Warner, creator of the Amelia Island Concours. 

Thanks to the generosity of Grassroots Motorsports magazine and Hagerty, both participants and spectators get to enjoy the show free of charge. Calypso Lemonades kept everyone hydrated this year. Before the show, the local geese ensured that the show field was suitably fertilized.�

Concours d’LeMons California 2016 results

Class Awards
Rust Belt American Junk (American cars)
Judges: Tim Suddard and Stefan Lombard
First place: Michael Johnson’s 1972 Ford Squire wagon
Second place: Jeff Walker’s 1968 Chevy Sportwagon

Unmitigated Gaul (French cars)
Judges: Jonathan Stein and Nigel Matthews
First place: Mark Maksimon’s 1988 Peugeot 505
Second place: Ken Nelson’s 1961 Panhard

Rueful Britannia (British cars)
Judges: Dick McClure and David Lillywhite
First place: Derek Tuttle’s 1965 Wolsley Hornet

Needlessly Complex Italian (Italian cars)
Judges: Alan Galbraith and Tim Suddard
First place: Roger Vandervert’s 2005 Vespa Ape Coffee Wagon
Second place: Ken Mitchell’s 1960 Vespa

Der Self-SatisfiedKrauttenWagen (German cars)
Judges: David S. Wallens and Bill Warner
First place: Randy Carlson’s 1959 Tempo Matador Camper
Second place: Wayne Carini’s Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Soul-Sucking Japanese Appliance (Japanese cars)
Judges: Bret Schrader and Rene Thomas
First place: April Danyluk’s Nissan Altima
Second place: Gregory Birch’s 1992 Lexus

Swedish Meatballs (Swedish cars)
Judges: Abby Bassett and Nelson Ireson
First place: John Ramsden’s 1966 Volvo Wagon
Second place: Charles Goodman’s 1956 Volvo P1900

Warsaw Pact (Eastern Bloc countries)
Judges: Jason Cammisa and Tim McNair
First place: Larry and Janet King’s 1989 Yugo GVL

“Special” Awards�
WTF? Award: Josh Pendo’s 1994 Lincoln Limousine

Kitschiest Original: Mathew Morillo’s 1965 Chrysler New Yorker towing Coleman trailer

Most Dangerous Car: Freddie Fuentes’s 1974 MG Midget limousine

Dick Teague Award for best AMC product: Chris Denove’s 1975 AMC Pacer

The Double Turd Award: Marc Maksimow’s 1988 Peugeot towing another horrible Peugeot

Worst of Show: Chris Blizzard’s 1974 Bricklin SV-1


Posted March 15, 2013

The medical definition of atrophy can be described as the wasting away of a muscle, due to non use or the loss of nerve supply. Some of us believe this can happen to muscle cars, as well as muscles in the human body. Here’s a few examples of muscle cars that most likely didn’t live on to suffer the atrophy inducing mediocrity of car shows, cruise nights, televised auctions, or languishing under a car cover in some collector’s climate controlled garage. The off-road muscle warriors shown here soldiered through the ranks of SCORE Class 6, the Baja 500 and 1000, and various other off-road races during the 1970s and 80s, living the most likely short but extreme life that a muscle car should.

You can bet they’ll be no Shelby’esque resto-mod for this early Mustang coupe. It probrably died a brilliant but dusty death somewhere in the deserts of California. photo credit
No retail red paint and Yenko cloning for this 1968-72 Nova. photo credit
The roof mounted wing, off-road lights, and fuel filler on this ’68 Cutlass would give today’s 442 fans fits of rage, not to mention the enlarged wheel wells. photo credit
Here’s an early Barracuda at the 1971 Mint 400. Something tells me this ‘cuda won’t end up at a burger joint cruise night anytime soon, or ever, and that’s ok. photo credit

Muscle car fans and restorers could easily wretch at the thought of these now sought after cars being subjected to the abuse of off road racing, but don’t shed too many tears for them. Whether it be through drag racing, road racing, oval track, or even off-road racing, every one that was sacrificed through the crucible of motorsport did it’s small part to cement the legacy of the muscle car, and make them the collectible treasures that they are today.

Rotten gas and rusty wishes,
Skip Cambre

The Renault 5 Roller Coaster

Posted February 22, 2013

When it comes to the Renault 5, I challenge you to name another car that has risen to such lofty heights, mired it’s way through such underwhelming mediocrity, and sunken to such dismal lows. Try as I might, I can think of no other automotive platform that has taken such a journey. It was designed as an entry level front wheel drive economy car by a guy (Michel Boue) that died before it’s initial release in 1972, invaded North American shores with the cheesy “Le Car” moniker in 1976, became a rear wheel drive World Rally Championship contender in 1981, and ultimately lingered on in one uninspiring form or another until it’s unceremonious death in 1996.

Join me for a brief ride through the highlights and lowlights of the Renault 5:

Remember those dismal lows I spoke of earlier? Behold the “Lectric Leopard”! A company named U.S. Electricar removed the drivetrain from new Le Cars, replaced it with 16 golf cart batteries, 15 horsepower electric motors, and claimed a top speed of 50 mph (which I’m guessing was clocked with a full charge, downhill, in a hurricane), and offered them for sale. It’s only speculation on my part, but I imagine the sales invoices for many of these might have been signed in crayon, in the visiting rooms of mental institutions.

Now the good stuff! The rear wheel drive, rear engined R5 Turbo! This is truly the high point of the Renault 5 legacy. To make a long story short, Renault removed the engine and transaxle from the front of the car, and mid-mounted a 1400cc turbocharged Cleon engine, powering the rear wheels. Introduced in 1981, this radical transformation of the Renault 5 was deemed necessary to compete with the Lancia Stratos in World Rally Championship racing. And thanks to the goodness of WRC homologation rules, just under 3600 of these were sold to the general public throughout a 4 year production run, with up to 350 horsepower in race trim.

And now having come full circle with this final 1996 model, the platform was really showing it’s age and the sportier models had been killed off earlier in the decade. At this point the 5 had gone from basic transportation, to rally hero, and back again to dreary, if not downright hateful basic transportation.


Rotten gas and rusty wishes,
Skip Cambre

Classic Vinyl?

Posted February 22, 2013

The dreaded vinyl covered roof! I think the vast majority of car guys will agree that they are the work of Satan, himself. It’s only speculation, but I’m guessing somewhere around the early 1960s, the Prince of Darkness might have looked at the progress we had made with the automobile and said “It’s time these pathetic minions started glueing pointless sheets of plastic to the roof panels of these four wheeled contraptions”, and the vinyl roof quickly became the toast of automotive high fashion. The devil knew what he was doing as other atrocities were soon to follow, such as the “Landau” roof, “Opera Windows”, and last but certainly not least- copius amounts of roof rust laying in wait underneath these unholy scraps of ugliness.

All was going well with the Evil One’s plan until 1969, when Chrysler introduced the “Mod Top” vinyl top option, available on everything from Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars, to Chrysler luxo-barges. The minions had struck a blow using the number one rule of automotive bad taste: The only way to fight hideousness is with more hideousness.

The Mod Top was available from 1969-71, and options for Mopar’s muscle cars and economy cars consisted mostly of psychedelic flower power’esque type vinyl pattens, while the luxury cars could be ordered with paisley prints to rival the worst silk shirt you’ve ever seen, and some floral prints that were reminiscent of your grandmother’s living room curtains.

And what if you weren’t a Mopar fan in the early 1970s, but you still wanted in on the gaudy fun? Worry not, because you could’ve strolled into your local Ford dealer and ordered a Mustang Grande or Mercury Cougar with an ultra chic houndstooth vinyl roof.  There’s even a rumor that a few Pintos were optioned with a paisley print vinyl roof of their own.

Just like an English Bulldog- It’s so ugly, how can you not love it? I for one say “Thank you, Ford and Mopar!” for taking the reviled vinyl roof and making it so unbelievablby ghastly, that somehow it actually went full circle and became cool again.

Rotten Gas and Rusty Wishes,

Skip Cambre

Trabant Limo – East Berlin Style

Posted January 29, 2013

The Trabant /trəˈbɑːnt/ is a car that was produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in ZwickauSaxony. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to countries both inside and outside the communist blocThe main selling points were that it had room for four adults and luggage in a compact, light and durable shell; it was fast (when introduced); and it was durable.

With its mediocre performance, outdated and inefficient two-stroke engine (which returned poor fuel economy for the car’s size and produced heavy exhaust), and production shortages, the Trabant is often cited as an example of the disadvantages of centralized planning; on the other hand, it is regarded with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany and of the fall of communism (in former West Germany, as many East Germans streamed into West Berlin and West Germany in their Trabants after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989). It was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years with 3,096,099 Trabants produced in total.[3] In 2008, Time magazine rated the Trabant as one of the 50 worst cars ever made.[4] In the West, much has been written about the Trabant with mostly negative. Emphasis was placed on the shortcomings of the Trabant, and its benefits have not been pointed out. However, many of the former owners of the Trabant still emphasize its advantages such as high capacity – Trabant was able to drive over 1000kg of cargo.