Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Pebble Beach, Concours d’Lemons, Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca
California’s Monterey Car Week is one of the most anticipated and vibrant annual events on the automotive calendar. From the glamour of Pebble Beach to the levity of the Concours d’Lemons, and everything in between, the week’s timetable is stacked with unmissable shows, auctions and motor sport events. The sheer breadth of attractions can be quite overwhelming, even to Car Week veterans, so we’ve listed our favourite events of the schedule so you can get the most out of this annual automotive extravaganza.
The Motoring Classic is a nine-day coast-to-coast journey of around 1500 miles from Kirkland, Washington to the elegant and luxurious Mediterranean-style estate of Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach. The participant package of The Motoring Classic includes all meals, accommodation and entertainment en route, and entry to exclusive events usually reserved for Pebble Beach judges and concours entrants. If accepted, those taking part in The Motoring Classic will go on to compete in the legendary Pebble Beach Concours at the journey’s conclusion.
Magneto says: the ultimate in exclusive tours
Monterey Car Week begins with the Kick-Off, which sees an assembly of historic racing cars line up on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey prior to their transportation to the Laguna Seca circuit for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 15. Visitors to the Kick-Off will have the opportunity to admire these spectacular machines up close, meet the drivers, and enjoy live music and giveaways.
Magneto says: great atmosphere ramps up the excitement of the week
Over 300 historic racing cars are present at the Pre-Reunion, and many of them will be competing at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion several days later. The Pre-Reunion provides the drivers with valuable track time in a relaxed environment, while visitors can indulge the senses with a saunter through the open paddock. The event can be live-streamed via MotorTrend’s YouTube channel here.
Magneto says: see the race cars without the crowds – and take sunscreen!
From Porsche 356s to Taycans and 911s, all Porsches are welcome for display in this celebration of the Stuttgart-based manufacturer. This year’s event will herald the public unveiling of the 993 Classic Restoration Challenge car. The cars are complemented by live music, wine and beer tasting, and local food trucks; we’re sure you’ll agree that’s a great recipe for an enjoyable day out.
Magneto says: if you love Porsches…
Carmel-by-the-Sea is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities on the West Coast with its majestic surroundings and stunning architecture. Carmel’s world-famous Ocean Avenue is closed to traffic for this event so that it can be filled with an exceptional line-up of the finest collector cars. Nearly 200 cars will be on display, forming disparate concours classes that include Luxury Cars, Muscle Cars and Hot Rods. This ensures there’s something for every enthusiast to enjoy. Admission is free of charge.
Magneto says: probably one of the best free car shows you’ll ever see
Entirely new for this year, the Automobilia Pop-Up Show is where over 20 top international dealers of all manner of automobilia will offer items ranging from original auto literature, artwork, badges and advertising signs, to model cars, books, magazines and posters. The event is open to the public and entry is free.
Magneto says: the new events just keep on coming. Check this one out
Taking place at the Monterey Jet Center, this evening event is dedicated to cars, motorcycles and aeroplanes. As well as the beautiful assortment of machines on display, attendees will be treated to gourmet food and the finest Californian wines in a social setting.
Magneto says: dress up, chill out and socialise amid the machinery
The 11th edition of The Little Car Show will be held in the picturesque surroundings of Lighthouse Avenue on Pacific Grove. The event is a relaxed and friendly gathering of quirky cars from around the world and entry is free of charge. The Show consists of “125 Mini, micro, steam and arcane” vehicles from any marque, as long as the vehicle is at least 25 years old and has an engine no larger than 1.6 litres in displacement. If you’re a fan of the quirker corners of automotive history, this is an event you won’t want to miss.
Magneto says: quirky, everyday classics in a relaxed atmosphere
The Mecum Monterey 2021 Auction will see 600 lots offered by the world-renowned US auctioneer. The sale will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course, and those in attendance will have the chance to bid on a plethora of vehicles; from historic pre-war vehicles to muscle cars, supercars and exotics, the entire automotive spectrum is catered for. As the only Car Week sale taking place during the daytime, visitors can bask in the Californian sunshine while perusing their potential purchases. A live-stream of the auction will be available on Mecum’s website.
Magneto says: the showiest of the Monterey sales, growing every year
Another exciting auction opportunity is Russo and Steele’s sale, which is set apart by its communal atmosphere that is facilitated by the ground-level auction arena with no separation of the cars from bidders. This format is unique to Russo and Steele auctions. The inclusion of several lots with no reserve provides some exciting buying opportunities.
Magneto says: this is the one if you’re into muscle cars and auction theatre
Undoubtedly one of the most dynamically exciting events on the Car Week timetable, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion is touted as “a museum springing into life”. With nearly 600 historic racing cars divided across 14 classes, those present at the Laguna Seca circuit will witness everything from Formula 1 cars to the pioneering models of the pre-1920s class do battle around one of the world’s most demanding ribbons of asphalt. Cars are curated for the event based on authenticity, provenance and period correctness, and Ford holds the honour of being the Featured Marque for this year’s event. The IMSA and MotorTrend YouTube channels usually hold live-streams, so stay tuned for those if you don’t want to miss out on the action.
Magneto says: it’s loud, hot and dusty – and packed with the greatest race cars. We love it!
The Tour d’Elegance showcases over 150 entrants from the Concours d’Elegance in a cavalcade that proves these stunning cars are more than stationary works of art. The Tour meanders down the Highway One coast road that is nestled between the cerulean water of the Pacific and picturesque mountains and valleys, with portions of the route retracing the traditional 17-Mile Drive. The Tour is punctuated with a stop at the beautiful beach city of Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch. The event is usually available vis live-steam on the MotorTrend YouTube channel.
Magneto says: get up early to see the start, or head to Carmel for the lunchtime stop
Held at the Concours Village across from the driving range, the RetroAuto is a great chance to acquire rare automobilia. The items on offer range from art and literature to luxury items, technological tools and official Pebble Beach merchandise. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Magneto says: packed with the best automobilia, it’s a must-visit
After running for nearly two decades, The Quail has cemented itself as one of the world’s most prestigious automotive exhibitions. Set in the verdurous surroundings of Quail Lodge and Golf Club, the event boasts some of the world’s finest cars and motorcycles from past and present. Special features for this year include the launch of Honda’s run-out NSX Type S, as well as the 50th anniversaries of the Alfa Romeo Montreal and the stunning Robert Opron-designed Citroën SM. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and include luxurious gourmet food and fine wines.
Magneto says: the most in-demand ticket of the week. Get on the 2022 list now!
The 24th annual Bonhams Motorcar Auction is held in conjunction with The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, and is one of the highest-profile automotive auctions of the year. In times gone by Bonhams’ auctions have been the scene of many world auction records; a 1953 SIATA 208 S Spider, a 1928 Bentley 6½ Litre Open Sports Tourer by Barker and a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupé de Ville were just three of the cars that set records at the event in 2018. For Bonhams’ auction live-stream, click here.
Magneto says: grab a shuttle from The Quail and enjoy the sale
The Werks Reunion is Monterey Car Week’s largest gathering of Porsches, making it an unmissable event for devotees of the famed German manufacturer, particularly as it is free for spectators. Attendees will be treated to a comprehensive display of the finest Porsches on the planet; from competition cars to rare classics and current performance models, no corner of Porsche’s catalogue is left unexplored. Owners can proudly display their cars alongside other examples as part of the unjudged Porsche Corral display, and more competitively inclined enthusiasts can apply for entry into the Porsche Judged Field in a bid to take home the Werks Reunion Award.
Magneto says: Porsche madness! Go in the morning – it peters out mid-afternoon
As the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Gooding & Company’s Auction is one of the world’s most distinguished sale events. Each year, the sale entices leading figures of the collector world to the beautiful setting of the Parc du Concours. In the previous auction in 2019, 17 cars reached the $1m threshold, with sales totalling $76,824,740 (£55,173,543) at an impressive sell-through rate of 77 percent. That year, a Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider secured the highest sale price at $9,905,000 (£7,113,515), while an ex-Niki Lauda 1975 Ferrari 312T Formula 1 car was the highest grossing racing car, selling for $6,000,000 (£4,309,045). In 2021, a 1995 McLaren F1 and 1959 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider Competizione are projected to yield the highest values. For Gooding’s YouTube live-stream of the auction, click here.
Magneto says: even the preview is stunning
With RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction taking place over the same two days as Gooding & Company sale, August 13-14 will be arguably the most important 48 hours of this year’s collector calendar. The breath-taking lots in RM’s sale will be presented in the opulent surroundings of the recently renovated Monterey Conference Center, a stone’s throw away from downtown Monterey and Fisherman’s Wharf. Some of the headline cars for this year are a 1970 Porsche 917K and 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, which are estimated at $16m-$18.5m (£11.4m-£13.2m) and $11m-$14m (£7.9m-£10m) respectively. For RM Sotheby’s YouTube live-stream of the sale, click here.
Magneto says: great atmosphere in downtown Monterey as this takes place
Taking place at a new venue in Carmel Valley Village, this 300-car concours celebrates the greatest cars to come from Germany, making it a fabulous show for any fan of marques hailing from the country. Three of North America’s most prominent German car clubs – the BMW Car Club of America, Mercedes Club of America and Audi Club of North America – will be in attendance, and BMW will be showcasing its latest breed of M cars. Admission to the public is free of charge.
Magneto says: the Porsches have gone leaving room for more of the rest
Given the huge influence Italian cars have had on the automotive landscape over the past century, it’s only right that Monterey Car Week’s Concorso Italiano features over 800 of Italy’s most exquisite past and present models. In addition to the breath-taking roster of cars on display, the Concorso also acts as a tribute to Italy’s vast contributions to fashion, food, music and art. The armada of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfa Romeos and Maseratis will take their place on the beautiful grounds of the Black Horse Golf Club, and the passion of their creators will doubtlessly be embodied by the scores of enthusiasts in attendance.
Magneto says: so many red Ferraris! Format is feeling dated, but cars are sublime
Self-styled as “an ugly oil stain on the Monterey Car Week”, the Concours d’Lemons is the definitive antithesis of the splendour of the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Concours classes include the likes of Rust Buckets, Hoopties, Misfits and Mistakes, and each are inhabited by some of the craziest cars imaginable. Free to enter and truly unique, this good-humoured event is not to be missed. Watch the Concours d’Lemons live-stream of the event here.
Magneto says: if your jaw doesn’t ache from laughing, you’re doing it wrong
If you’re a Ferrari fan, you won’t want to miss this comprehensive gathering of classic and contemporary models from the Prancing Horse. The event attracts owners from around the globe, as well as representatives from the Ferrari Owners Club. The Barnyard Shopping Village will host the Gathering this year, and Big Sur Food and Wine has arranged wine tasting from a collection of Monterey’s local wineries.
Magneto says: a few truly historic gems amidst the newer cars
The world’s most prestigious concours is back, and this year’s edition is particularly special; it marks Pebble’s 70th anniversary. A tradition since 1950, the show gathers 200 of the world’s most exceptional automobiles that have been carefully curated for display on the hallowed 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links course. Of these select cars, a mere handful will ascend to claim the Concours’ coveted awards, with the highest honour being the Best of Show prize. The entrants are assessed on attributes such as provenance, originality, technical merit and style by the world’s most knowledgeable and discerning judges. Sir Michael Kadoorie’s spectacular 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer claimed Best of Show last time out, and other winners include a 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet, 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne and 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer. There is truly nowhere else on Earth where such rare and high-quality vehicles are assembled en masse. A live-stream of the event will be available here.
Magneto says: still the ultimate. Get there early – sunrise early!
Can’t make it this year? Then watch all the action free on Torque Media’s official Monterey Car Week live-stream here.
You can also watch highlights of Car Week on What’s Up Monterey’s YouTube channel here.
If you liked this, then why not subscribe to Magneto magazine today?