My Car Quest

May 27, 2024

San Marino Motor Classic – A Great Event

by Wallace Wyss –

Photographs by Richard Bartholomew and Wallace Wyss.

Where is San Marino? Ah, not the one in Italy, this show was from a fancy neighborhood near Pasadena, sort of the Beverly Hills of Pasadena.

And the park where it is held, Lacy Park, is one of the best venues for The San Marino Motor Classic because there is plenty of parking on the street if you can walk a couple blocks, and the park is shady around the edges.

San Marino Motor Classic

Ferrari 275 GTB-San Marino Motor Classic

What is a treat about this show is the sheer variety. You have your prewar classics, such as prewar French cars from the Mullin Museum, your Italian clan–including some very late model Ferraris, and then they even had a hot rod or two and a VW beetle!

Now in some ways this is a “Junior” Pebble Beach Concours in that it has the most elegant cars, but in some ways its a car show that’s letting in cars that would never make it to Pebble Beach–like the Volkswagen bug.

You are certain to see some rarities here that make this concours worthwhile attending, and one of the ones I enjoyed most was a Ghia 450SS in sort of a muted pearlescent gray.

Ghia 450SS-San Marino Motor Classic

Ghia 450SS

I should have waited to see the engine but the yellow racing Ferrari Lusso berlinetta was surprising because I was one of those who always wrote Lussos were strictly street cars.

Ferrari 250 GT Lusso-San Marino Motor Classic

Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

In Mercedes there were three or four Gullwings and I should have noticed that one of them was one of the 29 all aluminum bodies, the holy grail among Gullwings of which they made over 1200.

Mercedes 300SL Gullwing-San Marino Motor Classic

Striking me as the most elegant (and it won the prize for that) was the maroon two tone Delage prewar Cabriolet by Chapron brought by the Mullins, who have a splendid French-themed Museum in Oxnard. I enjoyed the maroon cloth convertible top and have to ask a restorer next time I go to a concours how often it was in the prewar period you had top colors other than black.

Delage prewar Cabriolet by Chapron-San Marino Motor Classic

An Iso Grifo was shown, an open headlight model, but I was taken aback by the club badges on the front. That was a fad that came and went, still seen on a few British cars, but the idea of having lots of metal badges to show club affiliations or events you’ve attended has almost died out.

The Nash Healey coupe, by Pininfarina, was mint but now I’m hoping to see the first generation Nash Healey, one by Abbott, parked next to the Italian one to see if there’s some merit to the British design before they went Italian.

Nash Healy-San Marino Motor Classic

The San Marino Motor Classic had Japanese cars and I am always surprised to see them because I, who have been to Japan several times, just can’t fathom Japanese designs lasting long enough to be icons, though of course the Toyota 2000GT, a very rare car actually built by Yamaha, has withstood the test of time and become a classic recognized worldwide.

There was a whole section devoted to Porsche 356s.

I would say the biggest surprise was a VW class. Their inclusion must have provoked some discussion for they are among the most mass marketed cars ever since concours in the earlier decades celebrated cars that were special in some way (elegant coachwork, high performance, rarity, etc.) you wonder why include these but I think there is also a nostalgic audience, and having owned a few beetles myself, I enjoy seeing them especially when accompanied by vintage accoutrements like the old ’50s suitcases and, yes, roof racks that we ran back then.

Though I savor more my memory of a Karmann Ghia convertible. By the way they had a European Karmann Ghia at the show, designed by the late American designer Tom Tjaarda who designed cars in Italy for over five decades.

Volkswagen-San Marino Motor Classic

The San Marino Motor Classic had eight gourmet catering trucks so I would say this is one to put on your calendar if Pebble Beach is just a bridge too far…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss’ a fine artist, will have a one man show at Concorso Italiano in August, this year featuring some pre-war French classics.




hypercars-San Marino Motor Classic

More photos are in the slide shows below.

San Marino Motor Classic
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San Marino Motor Classic
The San Marino Motor Classic has a great variety: prewar French cars, Italian cars, including some late model Ferraris, a hot rod or two and a VW beetle!

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