Monterey Car Week - Something for Every Car Nut!

Each August, in the United States, the center of the Vintage/Historic Racing and Collector Car worlds converge together to make the biggest 10 motoring festival on the planet, Monterey Car week. The anchors for this motoring extravaganza are the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Monterey Motorsports Reunion.  

The Monterey Motorsports Reunion began as the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in 1974 when Steve Earle, invited a bunch of his friends to race their historic cars at Laguna Seca Raceway located on the old Fort Ord property between Monterey and Salinas California. Under the guidance of Earle “The Historics” quickly grew into the must attend race for the Vintage/Historic racing community. In 2010, as part of a wide sweeping management shift, the event was taken over by the Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula, (SCRAMP), who are charged with managing the municipally owned raceway. They renamed the event the Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The event has continued as one of the year’s marquee events and now features completion over two weekends with over 600 competitors. Like many events of it’s type the Reunion annually highlights a part of motorsports history such as a famous marque or model of racing machines. This year to help commemorate the 50thAnniversary of the sanctioning organization, IMSA will be the feature marque and there will be special classes for IMSA Prototypes and a round of the Masters Endurance Legends Series.

The Pebble Beach Concours is the recognized as the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. This charitable event was founded in 1950 to coincide with the Sports Car Club of America’s Pebble Beach Road Races that used closed public roads for the competition. That first event featured 30 cars. Today the Concours features over 20 classes with nearly 200 cars vying for the coveted best in show honors. The 2018 winner was an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta owned by David and Ginny Sydorick from Beverly Hills, California. 

In and around these two seminal events there is a cornucopia of auctions, shows and tours that cover all things motoring. With the help of our friends at Sports Car Market magazine we are going to take a look at some of the highlights of the week’s activities so you can maximize your Monterey Car Week enjoyment. There are three types of events that comprise the entirety of Car Week, Auctions, Concours & Shows, and Racing/Rally/Touring events.

The race and rally events kick off with the Pre-Reunion weekend the 10th and 11th of August. It is a chance for early birds to see two days of racing in similar groups to the full reunion the following weekend.  

The week of car fun is annually launched by Automobilia Monterey held at the Embassy Suites Hotel Monday the 12th thru Wednesday the 14th. Billed as the largest of its type in the United States, over 40 vendors gather each year to show off and sell their wares. No reproductions allowed, all items are original. This is your chance to get vendors of mascots, models, poster, books and much more all under one roof. The small 20-dollar entry fee makes this show heavenly for the avid and beginning collector alike.

The week between the competition weekends is also time for many non-competitive rallies and touring events to fill the calendar. 

 The Quail Rally is an invitation only event and runs from Monday the 12th to Thursday the 14th. The rally begins at the famed Quail Lodge and travels scenic back roads of the Monterey Peninsula and surrounding areas.  

The Pebble Beach Motoring Classic and the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex are two events directly tied to the famed Concours. The Motoring Classic is a 1500-mile west coast road trip from Kirkland Washington to Pebble Beach. The 13 thousand dollar entry fee gets you into all Concours events, including the Tour d’Elegance, as well as special event perks that are usually reserved for Concours entrants and judges. Besides the hefty 13 grand price tag all cars must, “have an elegance that befits the Concours.” 

While the classic is for entrants and wannabe entrants the Tour d’Elegance is primarily for cars that are entered in the annual Concours. It is a Thursday fan favorite as they can watch for free at various points along the route as well as see the cars at various stops along the way. The tour follows parts of the original 17- Mile Drive, traverses hill and vale before heading down scenic Highway One and makes a stop in Carmel-By-The-Sea. Many people visit the Ocean Avenue parking area in Carmel to take a gander at some of the world’s best Concours cars out on the road instead of stationary on the 18thfairway at Pebble Beach. 

Another great event for getting to Monterey Car Week is the 10th annual Italian Stampede. This Thursday event covers the 300 miles from Los Angeles to Monterey and is limited to 100 cars and driver teams. This is another event for those with strong wallets. Entry to the rally will set you back 995 dollars per car and the Welcome party in Monterey is 175 dollars per person.  (More on that welcome party below.)

The star of the touring set on Friday is the Pacific Grove Rotary Club’s Concours Auto Rally.  This is the 25th anniversary for this charitable event. A very casual rally, the event stages and starts on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove and ends with a barbecue dinner in Chautauqua Hall.  Most of the 200 entrants are pre-1974 but some newer cars are accepted. Proceeds for this fun event benefit Pacific Grove Youth Action.

Besides the car shows and over the road events, the real headline grabbers at Monterey Car Week are the Auctions. Over a jam packed three days the discerning buyer has the opportunity to purchase some stunning automobiles as the worlds biggest and best auction houses all bring their top of the line cars to see what they can bring for the sellers. 

As we have documented previously here at, (2019 Auction Round-up – Mixed Results), the collector car market is up and down but still very strong.  The first half of 2019 saw sales close to a billion dollars. In 2018 sales at Monterey Car Week events topped 350 million. This year’s auctions promise to be just as lucrative for the sellers and the auction houses as a year ago. In coming weeks we will have take a more in-depth look at what each of the auction houses has on offer but here is a thumbnail of what you can expect from this years sales. 

The largest auction by volume is Mecum Monterey 2019. Starting Thursday the 15th as many as 600 cars will cross the block at the Hyatt Regency Monterey and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course.  In 2018 362 of the 697 cars offered sold for some 45.7 million dollars. Mecum’s stock in trade has always been American muscle cars however Monterey annually brings out some specials including two Ferrari LaFerrais that sold for 3.4 and 5.1 million dollars respectively in 2014 and ’17. This year two specials to look for include a 2005 Ford GT PB1-1 (meaning Plant Built Phase 1 chassis number 1). This car was used to certify the GT’s top speed at the Nardo Ring in Italy.  It was the first production Ford GT to top 205 miles per hour. The other star of the Mecum show fans of will be familiar with. It was the Chairman’s Choice winner from this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance streamed live, the 1938 Mercedes Benz 170VS Gelandesport Alpine racer. As an added bonus, look for some choice lots to come from Dana Mecum’s private collection this year in Monterey.

One year ago RM Sotheby’s stole all the auction headlines with the whooping sale of 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO for over 48 million dollars on the way to record sales just short of 158 million dollars. This year’s three-day affair also starting Thursday the 15th could be just as big.  Cars to watch for at the Monterey Conference Center include a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 'James Bond' coupe. This is one of four James Bond 007 “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” DB5 cars, of which three are surviving today. This particular car is one of just two press cars built by Eon Productions for the films’ promotional tour and was fitted, from new, with all the Bond gadgets. 

The second show stopper is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta.Surprisingly this Ferrari is offered with out reserve and some estimates for the sale of the car top 10 million dollars. It has matching numbers and is one of just 40 steel-body SWB Berlinettas built in the final production run of 1962. It has been restored to Classiche certified condition with the latest Tipo 168/61 V12 engine. 

Bonhams is another of the high-end record setters from past years. This 2-day event             (Thursday & Friday) held the previous Monterey Ferrari sales record with the 2014 sale of a Ferrari 250 GTO for 38 million.  Celebrating 22 years of auctions on the Peninsula Bonhams’ Quail Lodge location makes it one of the most stylish of Car Week. Lots of high-end machinery will cross the block again this year headlined by a former Pebble Beach award winner and a bespoke one-off designed for the New York and Paris auto shows. However, the 1931 Bentley 4.25L Supercharged Birken Le Mans replica Tourer could eclipse those stunning cars. This car is one of 50 factory built cars and is formerly part of the Fred Simeone Collection.  

Like Mecum, Russo and Steele traditionally grab the attention of the American muscle car crowd.  Their auction-in-the-round format makes for a unique experience at the waterfront location on Figueroa Street in Monterey over three days starting Thursday the 15th. R&S seek to consign mostly cars in the 50 thousand to 500 thousand ranges. One of the head turners this year will be the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Less than 2000 were built and sold the first year so this is an exceptional find for anyone who longs for those days when pony cars ruled the track and the road.  

If Euro sports cars trip your trigger then head over to Pacific Grove on Thursday the 15th for Worldwide Auctioneers, Pacific Grove Auction. This Auburn Indiana based auction house is making it’s third trip to the Peninsula after two successful efforts at the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. Worldwide has made headlines in past years with tasty American iron, namely last year’s big seller a 1931 Duesenberg Model J convertible sedan at just over 1.3 million dollars.  This year’s early consignments are showing a focus on some big money European Sports Cars.  Notably a 1947 Cisitalia D46 Single-Seater Monoposto as well as the one of the most significant electric cars ever built the 1898 Riker Electric.

With respect to all of these great purveyors of fine automobiles you can’t help but think that Gooding & Company is poised to steal the show this year on Friday and Saturday at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. Since 2004 Gooding has enjoyed the status as the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  In 2018 Gooding realized over 116.5 million in sales.  This year numbers should be high again.  Whether it be million dollar Porsches, Alfa Romeos or even a 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Limousine they will be taking a back rumble seat to the multiple award winning 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta and what is certainly the consignment of the year so far for us here at, the 1975 Ferrari 312t driven by the late legend Niki Lauda during his 1st World Championship winning season.  

Auctions and racing aside Monterey Car Week as all about looking at cars and while the focus of the week is Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance there are plenty of opportunities to get warmed up for the big show during the week. 

Monday the 12th kicks off with the Porsche Monterey Classic at Monterey Porsche. Porsche-files can revel in all things Stuttgart with Porsches 10 years old or older along with live music, whiskey, wine and hors d’oeuvres! 

Tuesday the 13th attention switches to picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Concours on the Avenue features more than 175 machines spread over 18 blocks along the famed Ocean Ave.  This free event (a rarity during Car Week) has three classes. One multi-marque class for cars built from 1940-’73. A Porsche class for cars built between ‘1948 and ’89 and of course a Ferrari class for post war machines from 1947 to 1989. 

Wednesday will keep you hoping or having to make some tough decisions as four great events fill the all day calendar.  Diehards, with some careful planning, can see all four and donate to some very worthwhile charities. 

The fun begins at the crack of 10am with the Carmel Mission Classic. The historic Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo is the backdrop for this combined wine tasting and car show.  The event supports both the Knights of Columbus and Carmel Mission Charities.

Just a couple of minutes away on Ocean Ave in Carmel you can enjoy the week’s only all-women car show. The Prancing Ponies All-Women Car Show features 80 cars all owned by, you guessed it, women. This event benefits the Prancing Ponies Foundation that works to effectively teach leadership skills and competencies that increase self-esteem, self-confidence and critical thinking in girls. 

In the afternoon downtown Pacific Grove is the place to be! The Little Car Show takes over Lighthouse Ave. between Fountain and 17th Streets for the tenth time. Here you will see some 125 micro-mini and arcane cars that are at least 25 years old, and have smaller than 1600-cc engines or electric motors. This fun casual event is a breath of fresh air not only for the parade around Pacific Grove’s scenic waterfront but also the events fun appeal. No best in show here just “Most Smile Per Mile”, and the “Dare to be Different Award”. 

You can wrap up wild Wednesday at the Monterey Jet Center from 5 to 10pm.  The money you saved at the free event in Pacific Grove you can put toward the hefty 475 to 625 dollar red carpet admission for Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival 2019.  Annually one of Monterey Car Week’s hottest tickets this year the Revival celebrates its 28th Anniversary. This event is the only one that expands on the week’s car theme, as guests mingle amongst vintage sports cars, modern aircraft and classic war-birds, and benefits the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation.  

After a whirlwind Wednesday you can rest up Thursday until the evening and the Italian Stampede Welcome Party.  We told you above about the Stampede from LA to Monterey. Well The Portola Hotel and Spa gets to host this event for the first time this year. It is your chance to welcome the exotics that make the trip up the coast form Los Angeles in the annual Italian Stampede. 

Frantic Friday takes on a distinct Teutonic feel. The Sixth Annual Porsche Works Reunion gets underway bright and early at the Coral de Tierra Country Club at 7am. This is a good event to mix with the Motorsports Reunion Qualifying day as the Club is quite close to the Laguna Seca raceway. The event is open to all Porsche owners, Porsche Club members, the 356 Registry, the 356 Club, and the Porsche Racing Club. The event annually draws more than 500 entrants and is free to spectate however there is a 20-dollar parking fee. 

The Club at Pasadera will again host the Legends of the Autobahn and the RADwood at Legends of the Autobahn. For ten years the Legends event has celebrated German engineering for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz clubs. Alongside the Legends event the RADwood event features all cars European from the ‘80s and 90s. Besides the great machines you will see some awesome and wacky getups as fans dress in their most Rad matching attire. It is a casual fun event and spectating is free. 

Another of the hot-tickets gets you into The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. You can enter the lottery to get in for 650 dollars or bypass the chance and drop down 950 dollars, which will also get you admission to the Bonhams Auction, Parking, lunch, beverages, and souvenirs. This charitable event is one of the years biggest with some 250 of the best cars and motorcycles found anywhere and this year you will enjoy some special features. If your lucky enough to have a ticket to this already sold out event you will get to enjoy the tribute to 100 year of Bentley, the 25th anniversary of the McLaren F1 and lots more. 

No rest for the wicked or weary on Saturday. Four events will move you from the ridiculous to the sublime.  The morning kicks off in Seaside at the Concours d’LeMons, the self-proclaimed “ugly oil stain on the Pebble Beach Auto Week”. This is a celebration of beaters, rust buckets and junk — in short, the worst of the automobile in the world — apparently too many owners of $500 cars looking to ugly up the space on hand so pre-registration is now required. The worst will be approved and given a spot in the show by a Selection Committee, which means this show should be even worse, or is that better? I guess that depends on your perspective!

That being the ridiculous you don’t have to go far to find the sublime. Also in Seaside, at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course, the Concorso Italiano features nearly 1 thousand of the most beautiful machines Italy has produced. As the Concorso celebrates all things Italian you get great food, music and a fashion show as well. 

Staying in Seaside you will find Exotics on Broadway.  Formerly the Exotics on Cannery Row this supercar, hyper car event has moved to Seaside for 2019. All things fast and exotic will be found amongst the 400 show cars on display. 

If you did not get enough Ferrari at the Concorso Italiano head south to the Barnyard Ferrari Social for a relaxing evening strolling among more than 50 Ferraris. This casual event is the final warm-up to the big show on Sunday and it contrast nicely with the glitz and glamour of the rest of Car Week and is a great way to wind down your Saturday with all proceeds going to the Arts Council of Monterey.   

Sunday is of course set aside for racing at Laguna Seca or viewing at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. No matter your preference or choice Monterey Car Week has something for you and belongs with Monaco Historique, Goodwood Revival, and Le Mans Classic as bucket list events.  If you would like more in-depth info on these events go to and download their outstanding “15th Annual Insider’s Guide to Monterey”.

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