Being in Monterey during car week is, for those of us interested in cars, like taking a little vacation from reality. The usual rules of How The World Works are flung out the window with ruthless abandon and a bit of glee, and the hole that’s left is just filled with cars. Amazing cars. Just driving around, whizzing by, getting stuck in traffic, all the normal stuff. They’re doing what Corollas do except they’re rare, stunning things you usually see online or perhaps in a museum. What I want to show you now is what is so far my favorite car-sighting of a car not actually being displayed, not in any concurs or auction, but just out on the street. After day one, the car I have to pick is the one you see up there: a Citroën DS Décapotable by Chapron.
Look at that thing! It’s like a shark, only sleeker and with better conversational skills. We all know the incredible, way-ahead-of-its-tie Citroën DS, but the convertible versions (called Décapotable in French, a word that probably has something to do with guillotines) were a far more rare thing entirely. Built by coachbuilder Henri Chapron, only 1,365 were made between 1960 and 1974.
There’s Heni himself with a DS Décapotable at the Paris Motor Show in 1961. Im not sure how I feel about those wheel covers, though.
I have a runner-up for Best Car Just Seen Around as well. Look at this:
A British Mark I Ford Escort! These things are incredibly rare in America, and are completely at odds with what most Americans picture when you say “Ford Escort” to them, which, if they’re even old enough to remember, something about as exciting as a drywall sandwich on wheat bread, hold the mayo.
But the British Escorts were different! Little RWD coupés (and wagons) that were sporty and quick and had great styling, simple, appealing little cars just dripping with charm, and probably oil, sometimes.
Here, this old Escort commercial that might be a representation of that hippie’s drug-induced vision sums it up pretty well:
I’ve barely been here a day, and, again, these cars are just driving around. Surrounded by McLarens and Lambos and Maseratis and so much more. This place is bonkers.