Many people have said that the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the one car show that every car guy should attend before he dies. While that may be true, there is another auto event held the same weekend in Monterey, California, known as the Concours d’LeMons. It is this show that trumps it for us eccentric car lovers.
There is a time and place for the crème de le crème of cars, and the Concour’s d’LeMons is not that place. Rather d’LeMons, also known as d’Lemons, is for the crème fresh that has curdled into smelly cheese, and for cars that are loved by their owners but ridiculed by others either in the past or present. Come and see the automotive oddballs that will undoubtedly be revealed.
For every high there is a low, for every day there is a night, and for every Auto Union, Bugatti, or Dusenburg, there is a proud AMC Gremlin, a bold Volkswagen Bus, or even a delightful Dodge Demon.
The sort of cars that come to mind for the Concours d’LeMons is simply the best part of that show. Any vehicle that is deemed oddball, mundane, or truly awful is most welcome to the event. If this event were a movie, it could be “Rebel with a Cause.” That cause is to give a “car show home” to those vehicles deemed unfit for the likes of Pebble Beach. This is a car show for vehicles only a mother could love.
Pacers, Gremlins, Fiats, Volvos, Ford Pintos, Chevrolet Corvairs, and the list goes on-and-on of cars that flopped for one reason or another, but have become cult cars in their later life. I honestly believe people like me would have more fun at d’Lemons than at Pebble Beach, because eccentric people sometimes drive or own eccentric cars.
Even the d’LeMons’ class names add to the humorous experience. But they ring true to what we all know in our hearts represent each vehicle’s make, marque, or country. Some examples are:
Rust Belt American Junk, Unmitigated Gaul-
for French cars, Rueful Britannia, Needlessly Complex Italian, Der Self-Satisfied KrauttenWagen, Soul-Sucking Japanese Appliance, Swedish Meatballs
“Special Collections,” “Triumphs of Engineering,” and “Special Awards” are the other unique monikers of the d’LeMons including:
Shag Van- This category is for carpeted, airbrushed and “makeout/molester” vehicles.
Terrible Twos- This category includes the Mustang II, Chevy II, Fury II.
Battle of the Network Cars- This category is for replicas of television cars, like Knockoffs of KITT, Starsky's Torino, Miami Vice, A-Team, etc.
Worst in Show- Essentially the worst vehicle you could bring to the show.
Biggest Loser- The car with largest percentage of monetary value drop (Merceded Benz S600, etc.)
For vehicles that might be a bit dangerous to drive. A Ford Pinto comes to mind.
For vehicles that just make you think or say What The F___???
Finally, we have compiled a own list of our best of the worst cars. They range from bad to ugly, or possibly even good depending on your taste and imagination.
Our Top 5 Favorite Lemons
1) AMC Pacer & Gremlin
- Heard nearby, "THERE IS NO GOD!"
First place is a tie by AMC for their Pacers and Gremlins. While one of them is a “Mirth Mobile,” the other is just ugly as sin. They demonstrate the 1970’s bad taste at its peak. Yet, I’m a fan of both for some odd reason.
2) Chevrolet Vega
- No, the girls don't make it better....Chad.
I have two family members who can attest to the explosive propensity of certain versions of this vehicle’s engine. So, it is a good thing that a Chevrolet V8 could be shoehorned into the body of this vehicle, making a lemon into a cool hot rod for today.
3) Ford Pinto
- Ford Pinto with the "Stallion" Package. Ah, that makes all the difference.
If the Chevrolet Vega’s engine was explosive, it’s nothing compared to the gas tanks in the 1970’s Ford Pinto. Especially when the vehicle was hit from the rear. Lawsuits were filed, and thus the cars place as a lemon was sealed in history.
4) Suzuki Samurai
- Rare footage of a Suzuki Samurai on all four wheels...but just barely.
It tips over easily at various speeds. Sounds dangerous? It is. But, they are popular today as off-road vehicles, albeit with much wider tires and higher ground clearances.
5) Yugo....uh, Yugo?
- This is the cleanest example we could find.
I saved the worst offender for last. Actually, all the vehicles on this list are awful in their own right. But, the Yugo “Wow!” Words cannot express the awful build quality of this contraption. The phrase, “Worst Car Ever,” comes to mind.
While the Concours d'LeMons is
the eyesore of the Pebble Beach Automobile Week to some, we are sure glad that a show like this exists for the numerous auto enthusiasts who might not be accepted at a more traditional auto show. We'll give the attendees and participant’s credit where credit is due for putting on such a bold show.