Built in 1771 — yes, several years before the United States were united as states, and when the Monterey Peninsula was part of Alta California and thus part of the far-flung Spanish empire — the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo is the only California mission to still have its original bell tower. Wednesday, that bell tower towered over the third annual Carmel Mission Classic, a celebration of cars, food, wine and art that is part of Monterey Classic Car Week.
The walled mission provides a courtyard in which some four dozen cars and nearly a dozen motorcycles are displayed. But wait, there’s more: Walk through a breezeway between the main church and a small chapel and you enter yet another courtyard, this one occupied for this year’s concours by an array of British cars.
The setting reminded me of the Arizona Concours d’Elegance held in January within the courtyards of the Arizona Biltmore Resort. But instead of Art Deco, the architecture here is Spanish mission.
In addition to a regular schedule of masses for its Catholic parish, the mission hosts daily tourists and various special events, has four museum galleries, and a parochial elementary school.
This concours-style show also features a blessing of the cars by the local bishop and the mission’s parish priest.
The Carmel Mission Classic is chaired by Frank Di Paolo and staged by the local Knights of Columbus fraternal group.
Photos by Larry Edsall