Monterey Car Week needs no introduction, and you may have attended this automotive smorgasbord before. If you haven’t, 2019 is a great time to make your first trip to the scenic Monterey Peninsula in California for a full week of automotive fun that will remind you why you love cars in the first place. The events’ itineraries change yearly; this Monterey Car Week guide shows you what’s new and different for 2019. Can’t attend this time? It’s never too soon to start thinking about Monterey Car Week 2020, as hotel rooms for the week often sell out nearly a year in advance.
Thursday, August 15-Sunday, August 18
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Tickets: Started at $40/day before August 4, $60 thereafter
Although you’ll see plenty of interesting cars being driven around traffic-clogged roads during the week, most of the shows are largely static affairs. If staring at cars sitting silently on a golf course isn’t your thing, head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. One of the legacy Car Week events, RMMR is your chance to see vintage race cars go wheel to wheel on the track, with all the sights, smells, and sounds that accompany such action.
This year, Hurley Haywood is the event’s grand marshal, and the featured cars are those that have raced with the IMSA organization, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Expect to see some 145 IMSA prototype and GT cars in person. There will also be two classes of historic Formula 1 cars dating from 1966 to 2016 and plenty of prewar, Trans Am, and Formula Ford action, among other groups. A 100 Years of Bentley tribute is also planned.
Friday, August 16-Sunday, August 18
Japanese Automotive Invitational presented by Infiniti
Now in its second year after a highly successful debut in 2018, the Japanese Automotive Invitational is a joint effort between Infiniti and MotorTrend Group to showcase classic Japanese cars from the 1960s on. Many of them were never sold new in the U.S., making them especially rare sights today. Admission to this event is free, a welcome reprieve from pricey fees found at many shows. Last year’s event showcased more than 30 heritage models from Infiniti, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, and more, with everything from a ’60s Toyota 2000 GT to the contemporary yet retro-themed Infiniti Project 9 concept car.
Hot Tip: JAI’s convenient location near the Pebble Beach Concours and Gooding & Company auction tent make this an easy show to attend whenever you have free time over the weekend.
Friday, August 16
Legends of the Autobahn
Tickets: Free (on-site parking $20 per vehicle)
Legends of the Autobahn is an all-German car show hosted by the BMW Car Club of America, the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, and the Audi Club of North America. Legends isn’t just one of Monterey Car Week’s newer events; it’s also one of the few shows offered that is free of charge for spectators, making it one of our favorites. This year, Legends teams up with the organizers of the popular Radwood car show, which showcases vehicles from the 1980s and ’90s. Expect to see plenty of E30 BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 homologation specials, and original Audi Quattro coupes featured in the special Radwood corral, as well as German road and race cars from all eras throughout the show. All European cars from 1980 to ’99 are welcome. Radwood corral registration is $100 for owners who want to show off their machines and includes free membership to one of the three hosting clubs.
Or Try This: Porsche Club of America’s Werks Reunion is a free-to-spectate all-Porsche show with a $20 parking fee. | werksreunion.com
Friday, August 16
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering
Tickets: $650 (sold out, waitlist available)
If the other concours events held during Monterey Car Week aren’t exclusive (or expensive) enough for you, then you should have entered the ticket lottery last year for The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. In an effort to keep crowds to a reasonable size and project an aura of exclusivity, The Quail limits attendance to only those lucky enough to be selected through the lottery process. That said, unlimited gourmet food and drinks are included, and the atmosphere is far more relaxed than other shows. If you’re looking to splurge, The Quail is something to try at least once. This year, special class themes include Supercars, The Great Ferraris, and Custom Coachwork.
Hot Tip: Think at least business casual when dressing for The Quail and consider ride-sharing if you’ll imbibe more than one or two drinks.
Saturday, August 17
Tickets: $165 general admission
If your blood runs Rosso Corso, Concorso Italiano is where you’ll find everything Italian at one event—from food, music, and fashion to rows upon rows of automobiles, of course. Generally, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini attendance is very strong, often with multiples of many of the more popular models. (If you’ve never seen 10 Testarossas in the same place before, this show is your best bet.) But what makes Concorso really special are the Iso, Abarth, Lancia, and other models rarely seen on today’s roads. This year, featured cars at Concorso are the Ferrari Dino series, including the 50th anniversary of the 206 GT model, as well as the 60th anniversary of De Tomaso, maker of the Vallelunga, Mangusta, and Pantera road cars.
Saturday, August 17
Spending a week among uber-rare and mega-valuable classic and exotic cars can have a bit of a desensitizing effect on many spectators. “Oh, look, Francis, it’s another Porsche Carrera GT—is that the fifth or sixth we’ve seen today?” For an antidote, skip out on the pricier shows and head to the Concours d’Lemons on Saturday. Not only is it free, but you’re also virtually guaranteed to find the worst cars you’ll see all week. From Ford Pintos to AMC Gremlins to Porsche 914s to Triumph TR7s, Concours d’Lemons is a celebration of the cars we love to poke fun at (and might even be able to afford). This year, watch for the Meguiar’s Half-Assed Detailing Contest, in which participants will compete to detail just half of their car within the allotted time. Extra credit goes to those wearing chicken suits or other costumes. Now that’s entertainment.
Hot Tip: If you need an excuse to show off your Geo Metro, this is one of the only shows to offer free vehicle registration in addition to free spectator admission.
Sunday, August 18
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Tickets: $375 general admission before August 1, $450 thereafter or at the gate
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the event that started it all. Long before The Quail, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, or the many auctions, there was Pebble Beach, founded in 1950 as a side event to the Pebble Beach Road Race. Although tickets are expensive, parking is a pain, and the crowd can make photo ops difficult, it’s an event to attend at least once in your life, and you’ll never be sorry you did. This year’s edition celebrates the 100-year anniversary of English luxury automaker Bentley Motors and famed Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Zagato. In addition, special classes include one dedicated to Bugatti grand prix and touring cars, and one for historic hot rods that have graced magazine covers.
Or Try This: Want to see a selection of the Pebble Beach entrants for free? Wake up early on Thursday morning and head to the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, where those cars entered in the Tour d’Elegance will fire up their engines and set out for a drive around the peninsula, stopping for lunch in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea.
No fewer than six collector-car auctions will happen in Monterey this year. As one example, RM Sotheby’s will feature a 1954 Maserati A6GCS that placed third in-period at the Mille Miglia as a factory entry. A 2014 Pagani Huayra Tempesta “Scozia” will also be up for bids, and an added third auction night will focus exclusively on Aston Martins, including a 1964 DB5, one of the earliest examples of the model built. Other auctions include Gooding & Company, Bonhams, Mecum, Russo & Steele, and Worldwide, collectively offering thousands of interesting and historic cars for sale.
Hot Tip: You don’t have to register to bid to see the auction cars offered, as most auction houses offer general spectator admission for a reduced cost.