Smack in the middle of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the most prestigious car show in the world, is the Concours d’Lemons—the worst car show on earth. At this event of miscreants, bribery is all part of the deal. It’s no secret that Alan Galbraith and Tom Studdard, co-founders and guys who run the less-than-illustrious event, encourage judicial enticements.
In its ninth year, the Concours d’Lemons at Monterey Car Week is as unhealthy as ever. What started out nine years ago as 40 hideous cars gathered to counter the snooty perfectness of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has turned into quite a Gorgon of 120 cars vying for best of the worst.
“Next year we maybe have to be a bit more discerning, meaning if you register first you’re in,” explained Galbraith when asked about the ballooning number of entrants and spectators.
Judges came from all corners of the automotive world this year. Journalists, a NASCAR announcer, plus automotive restorers to photographers came to deeply question how these sad participants had the gall to bring their awful automobiles out in public and hopefully get some good free stuff.
“Owners get your cars and your bribes ready,” Studdard called out over the sound system just as judging started. With twelve categories to critique, with names like Kommunist Kars and Rust Belt American Junk, judges slithered out into the crowd, cheap Office Depot clipboards in hand.
NASCAR announcer Mike Joy and John Nikas, marketing director at Moss Motors and British car collector, asked an Aston Martin DB5 owner what on earth qualified his car to be here. His answer was simple. “The constant oil slick is standard, and the first time I drove this thing, the brakes burst into flames,” the owner explained. “British sports car gospel, oil slick, and burst into flames,” Nikas agreed, but still way too good to win. Also, not a bribe in sight. Oh, the British may never learn.
Mike Musto and Jonny Lieberman, hosts of Motor Trend On Demand’s House of Muscle and Head2Head, respectively, were in charge of judging the GM category. From an Opel that Musto declared, “the wiring looks like Ray Charles did it with his feet” to a Chevy Blazer, which eventually won its category, that Lieberman claimed was a “proper pile of shit,” this category was ripe with stinkers. While there was no cheap alcohol offered up to the illustrious judges large sums of counterfeit money did exchange hands.
While the Italian class was only comprised of two entries, a Pinin Farina Fiat Spider and a 1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6, automotive photographer Evan Klein expertly judged the category with his white gloves on. He definitely scored the best bribes with hats and T-shirts. And, surprise, the Fiat owners who doled them out went on to win the category. Shocker.
Vu Nguyen, co-judge of the German category and president of the Porsche Club of America, may have been the benefactor of the most bribes with a backpack full of Budweiser’s, a pack of Mentos and a hot dog.
Sponsored by classic car insurance juggernaut Hagerty, though we doubt most of these cars are either insurable or not worth more than $20, the Lemons car show is a fan favorite. The only thing that’s going sour here are the cars.