seeing tour company is how they explain the model. The company began renting classics for cruising the area in 2018 and moved into their current location in Monterey in 2019. But before then, they began assembling a collection. From the start, the goal was to focus on automatic convertibles, although they also offer a 1970 Corvette with t-tops, a hardtop ’68 Mustang California Special and a ’38 Buick, as well as a couple of elegant prewar limousines. While the latter come with a chauffeur, the rest of the fleet are intended to be driven, to be fully enjoyed by the customer—for whatever reason. “It’s for every event—or not an event,” Gardner says. Some repeat customers take a Pontiac Firebird out for a cruise one day then return the next to hear the rumble of a Cobra replica. “We offer people a chance to touch the car, to drive the car.” Oddly enough, Gardner and her husband Rob were not typical “car guys” when they started. Instead, when their modern BMW developed a costly glitch, the couple decided to go back to rudimentary drivers—an early Tesla and a ’69 Mercury Cougar, which they assumed might be more reliable. In 2017 they offered to let Thanksgiving guests take the Tesla on a ride to Big Sur and were surprised at the response. “We want to drive the Cougar,” their friends said. A business startup lightbulb clicked. That winter, during the Mecum Auctions’ Kansas City event, they purchased five cars as online bidders, eventually building a fleet of 36 vehicles. Monterey Touring Vehicles has expanded and then pared down since then, based upon customer demand. Gone, for example, is an ’88 Chevy Camaro IROC-Z and the ’49 Willys. “Everything we have gets rented,” Sollecito points out—including the lesscoveted Monterey. People seem to get a kick out of driving one through the streets of Monterey. Meanwhile, they’ve added services. There are dash cam custom videos available, an app for self-guided tours and “parades” in which they will lead customers on a cruise around the county. All vehicles have useful modern upgrades, including GPS and bluetooth capability. Despite the comforts, this is still a moment in the classic roadtrip lifestyle. “We’re a classic car driving experience,” Gardner says. “There’s nothing like it.” Monterey Touring Vehicles, 2228 Del Monte Ave., Monterey. (831) 337-8800, montereytouringvehicles.com. 24 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Haven 2023-2024 Courtesy of Monterey Touring Vehicles Courtesy of Monterey Touring Vehicles classics-rental_23.indd 2 8/3/23 9:45 AM