Amid overcast skies and cool temperatures, Monterey Auto Week began Monday with the two-day Concours on the Avenue in Carmel with a wondrous selection of varied classic cars — Ferrari to Volkswagen, Ford to Bentley, Fiat to Lamborghini.

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While soft jazz perfectly set the mood, mellow, daylong crowds gathered along the main artery, Ocean Ave., and its accompanying side streets. It was an ideal outdoor showroom for the second-year event.

Porsche and Ferrari were featured Monday and Tuesday multi-marques were presented. I didn’t attend Monday’s festivities, but there were immediate favorites on Tuesday.

Tony and Pat Olmo of Monterey, California, presented two Volkswagen Beetles — a 1962 convertible and 1956 deluxe.

The 1956, a beautifully hued diamond green, is restored with only German VW parts as is the Pacific Blue convertible. Both cars attracted large crowds with a lot visitors commenting in general terms: “I used to have one of those.”

Despite the popularity of the two VWs, the car that appeared to attract the most attention and congratulatory handshakes to its ownner was a 1954 Kaiser Darrin Convertible.

John Nirenstein of Tiburon, California, purchased the rare vehicle 10 years ago and took 22 months to restore it. It’s No. 25 of 435 produced.

“I’ve just always loved cars since I was a boy,” said Nirenstein. “But I’m more interested in cars where the designer put his art and soul into it. I’m not so concerned about how much horsepower it has.”

Beyond the extraordinary vehicles, there was an unofficial “Best of Show” class for canines. I awarded the top prize to Newman, who’s featured to the right.

Monterey Auto Week continues through Sunday with numerous events, including The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering at Quail Lodge on Friday and the concluding Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

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