Concours & Car Shows

2018 Monterey Car Week: The Automobile Guide

From big spender to budget conscious, do Monterey Car Week like a pro

Time to get those seersucker suits dry-cleaned and dust off your sun hats—Monterey Car Week is almost upon us once again. What began nearly 70 years ago as a small concours and road race has evolved into a massive, annual weeklong extravaganza in late August, with events scattered across the Monterey Peninsula. It can be overwhelming for first-timers especially, so we’ve compiled a guide to all of the week’s significant happenings for you to reference. Pick your favorites, but don’t expect to hit all of them—traffic, ticket availability, and time are not on your side. It’s better to shake any FOMO now and focus on quality over quantity, even if your budget is more cheeseburger than caviar. We’ll see you Sunday on the 18th green for the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Streaming LIVE! Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Can’t make it to the main event? Then be sure to catch our live, three-hour broadcast coverage of the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance beginning at 2 p.m pacific time on August 26. Only on MotorTrend.com.

Saturday-Sunday, August 18-19

Monterey Pre-Reunion
Spectator cost: $30
weathertechraceway.com

On a budget? Hate crowds and traffic? Can’t find a hotel during Car Week? Make it easy on yourself this year, and come a week before the main event for the Monterey Pre-Reunion. You’ll see some 300 vintage race cars going head to head at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and save yourself much of the expense and congestion that comes with the following weekend. Then spend a quiet couple of days being a tourist before the onslaught.

Tuesday, August 21

Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue
Spectator cost: FREE
carmelconcours.com

The streets of quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea are turned into a casual show-and-stroll for the Concours on the Avenue, with plenty to see besides cars.

Casual is the theme of the Concours on the Avenue. With a healthy mix of classic cars displayed around the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea—a quaint downtown area with plenty of boutique shopping—this event is even entertaining for the non-car lover in your life. Spend the money you saved on this totally free show on lunch at one of the area’s gourmet eateries. Porsche and Ferrari through 1989 and other makes from 1940 to 1973 will be represented this year.

Wednesday, August 22

The Little Car Show
Spectator cost: FREE
marinamotorsports.org/events

Don’t think too hard—it’s right there in the name. The Little Car Show features a wide assortment of diminutive automotive minutiae, limited to an age of 25 years or older, with engine size capped at an oddly specific 1,601cc (1.6 liters). Expect itty-bitty Peel P50s, the relatively gargantuan Citroën 2CV, and everything in between.

Thursday, August 23

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Spectator cost: From $30
weathertechraceway.com

Sick of seeing parked cars? Then tootle on down to the newly christened WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for some of the best vintage racing action in the world at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Held annually since its founding in 1974, the RMMR is a homecoming for old race cars, pitting enthusiastic collectors against grizzled race veterans. Cars compete in more than 15 distinct race groups, ranging from prewar roadsters to the 800-hp monsters of IMSA GTP. It’s one of the few times you can watch a Ferrari 250 GTO face off against a Jaguar E-type then watch a pack of vintage stock cars thunder down the main straight. When you’ve gotten your fill from the stands, you can walk the pits and get some face time with the four-wheeled legends in various states of deconstruction. The event runs through Sunday, August 26, though most of the big-time race action will happen on Friday and Saturday.

Streaming LIVE! Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Can’t make it to the races? Watch our live coverage from the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Saturday, Aug 25, 1:30-6 p.m. pacific) and (Sunday, Aug 26, 12:30-4:30 p.m. pacific). Only on MotorTrend.com.

Friday, August 24

Werks Reunion
Spectator cost: FREE
werksreunion.com

Head over to the Werks Reunion, which is tucked away at the Corral de Tierra Country Club, for an overdose of Stuttgart sexy that will satiate even the most devoted Porschephile. Unlike the air-cooled exclusive Luftgekühlt held earlier in the year, Porsche Club of America’s Werks is open to all cars wearing the family crest, including brand-new sedans and SUVs. Your bone-stock Panamera might not make it to the judged portion of the event, but it’s welcome to play with the Cayennes in the Porsche corral.

Legends of the Autobahn
Spectator cost: FREE
legendsoftheautobahn.org

Throughout the year, in both showrooms and boardrooms around the world, “Germany’s Big Three” luxury automakers—Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz—are locked in a steel-cage death match to secure a dominant stake in the market and rake in more consumer dollars than the other guy. Friendly? Anything but. That’s what makes Legends of the Autobahn so refreshing. Hosted by the Nicklaus Club–Monterey and American Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz clubs, enthusiasts and representatives of all three brands join together for this very German car show. From classic to thoroughly modern, Legends of the Autobahn showcases not just enthusiast-owned vehicles but also special cars retained in the collections of the respective automakers. Last year we saw everything from an Audi A4 race car to a row of first-generation BMW M3s to an amazing Porsche-engineered Mercedes-Benz 500E. Best of all, the event is totally free, save for the $20-per-car parking fee.

Saturday, August 25

Concorso Italiano
Spectator cost: From $180
concorso.com

If Italian cars are your thing, then the Concorso Italiano will have you shouting “mamma mia!” as you wander your way through more Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, and etceterini than you’ve probably ever seen anywhere on earth. You’ll even see American oddities like the Cadillac Allante among the Italian masses due to its Pininfarina-built body. Spring for the $495 CI Club tickets, and you’ll be treated to breakfast, VIP parking, and a catered Italian-style lunch buffet, among other benefits.

Concours d’Lemons
Spectator cost: FREE
24hoursoflemons.com

If you’re more likely to grab a cold one from the cooler than sip bubbly out on the fairway, the eccentrics over at the Concours d’Lemons are your people. Enjoying a field populated with lame, unloved, and downright ugly cars is about as counterculture as it gets among all the million-dollar machines running around Monterey. If you enter a vehicle (which is free to do), make sure you bring enough beer and any other contraband you deem appropriate to bribe the judges with.

Exotics on Cannery Row
Spectator cost: FREE
exoticsoncanneryrow.com

Walking among neatly arranged rows of prewar behemoths is fun and all, but we like to break up the antiquing by ogling the highlighter-colored hypercars down on Cannery Row. Located dockside in historic Monterey, the strip of high-rent hotels and eateries belies the area’s working-class name. It’s especially ironic come Car Week, as waves of young enthusiasts make social media stars out of the Koenigseggs, Paganis, Bugattis, and other four-wheeled unobtanium on display. This is one of the most nouveau-riche events on the docket, so don’t expect a reserved, low-key show. Life needs balance, so it’s a perfect palate cleanser for the sometimes stuffy atmosphere of Carmel. Grab some grub from the food trucks, put on some sunscreen, and fill your Instagram stories with some of the coolest cars on the planet.

Sunday, August 26

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Spectator cost: From $325
pebblebeachconcours.net

Running alongside the picturesque Carmel Bay coastline, the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the most famous locales in the golfing world. It’s also huge in automotive circles as the site of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Since its inception in 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours has become the standard by which the world’s premier automotive concours are judged. It has evolved thanks to its rich variation, the addition of a brand-new concepts area, and special classes that change each year to keep things fresh, with Tucker, OSCA, and postwar custom Citroëns featured for 2018. The coveted Best of Show award goes to just one of the hundreds of cars on display and will be announced in the afternoon. But if you want to see something truly special, arrive at dawn as the cars drive onto the fairway, backlit by a Pebble Beach sunrise.

Streaming LIVE! Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Can’t make it to the main event? Then be sure to catch our live, three-hour broadcast coverage of the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance at 2 p.m. pacific on August 26. Only on MotorTrend.com.

Auctions

Whether you’re looking for an addition to your collection or just want to watch 1 Percenters duke it out for multi-million-dollar machines, collector car auctions are part of Monterey’s magic.

Bonhams
August 24
bonhams.com

Gooding & Company
August 24-25
goodingco.com

Mecum
August 23-25
mecum.com

RM Sotheby’s
August 24-25
rmsothebys.com

Russo & Steele
August 23-25
russoandsteele.com

Worldwide Auctioneers
August 23
worldwide-auctioneers.com

More to Explore

Automobilia
August 21-22
automobiliamonterey.com

Fill your bookshelf, find that rare badge or other period collectible, or decorate your office with wares from the sea of vendors at Automobilia.

Carmel Mission Classic
August 22
carmelmissionclassic.org

A charity event hosted at the famous Carmel Mission, this intimate concours is capped by a blessing of the attending cars by the Bishop of Monterey.

McCall’s Motorworks Revival
August 22
mccall-events-inc.myshopify.com

Half marketing event and half car show, the Motorworks Revival is held at an airport hangar amid both cars and planes. Expect to pay big bucks for a ticket.

Pacific Grove Rotary Concours Auto Rally
August 24
pgrotary.org

This non-competitive, low-speed event is perfect for seeing some rare cars cruising down the scenic 17-Mile Drive.

The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering
August 24
signatureevents.peninsula.com

Stroll among some of the rarest and most dazzling classics in Monterey while savoring complimentary gourmet food and drink. This one is expensive and sold out well in advance.

Ferraris at The Barnyard
August 25
thebarnyard.com

Held at the titular Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel, the Cavallino Rampante is well represented in this semi-open event.

Tips for the Budget Conscious

No way around it, Monterey Car Week is an expensive undertaking. Here are five tips to maximize your experience on a 99 Percenter’s budget.

Bargain Hunt: The local Monterey Bay Craigslist is a great place to pick up last-minute and sold-out event tickets for pennies on the dollar. Be diligent, and score a deal.

Happy Camper: Camping is a great way to reduce your cash outlay for the week. In addition to local campgrounds, there are sites available at WeatherTech Raceway.

Sittin’ on a Corner: The sheer volume of classic, exotic, and otherwise interesting cars traveling the streets of Monterey is a parade in itself. Park your butt at any intersection.

Freebies: There are plenty of events with free admission in this guide, so take advantage. Friday, August 24 has the largest variety of no- or low-cost shows.

Volunteer: Many events, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, are always looking for help with crowd control or other activities, often with time included to see the show yourself.