Legends of the Autobahn canceled as pandemic threatens to derail entire Monterey Car Week

Collector car fans worried that annual August festival of major concours events, car shows, auctions and vintage racing could be called off for 2020

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Mercedes-Benz Sl at Legends of the Autobahn | Nicole James

Collector car fans from all over the world have been collectively holding their breath in anticipation of COVID-19’s effect on Monterey Car Week in August.

Although still several months away, the biggest week (or more) of collector car activity in the US could be forced to cancel in its entirety as the evolving dangers of the coronavirus continue to impact social gatherings and the economy worldwide.

This would include the myriad of auctions, car shows, vintage racing and other events that make up the motoring celebration, which culminates in the 70th anniversary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

1934 Duesenberg Model J at Pebble Beach Concours | Bob Golfen

In what could be a harbinger, one of the major events of Monterey Car Week – Legends of the Autobahn – has announced its cancelation for 2020.  The popular German-car show held for the past 10 years by the national clubs for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi was scheduled for August 14 on the Club at Pasadera golf course in Monterey.

The announcement of the closure, while not directly referencing the ongoing pandemic, promises to return in August 2021, presumably when the danger has passed.

 “We will only do so when it is safe for our guests and our members,” Frank Patek, executive director of the BMW Car Club of America, said in the posting on the Legends of the Autobahn website. “While this decision was difficult to make, we believe it was the right one.”

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BMW admired at Legends of the Autobahn | Nicole James

There has been no word as to other Monterey events canceling thus far, which include the Porsche Werks Reunion in Salinas, Concorso Italiano in Seaside, The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, Concours on the Avenue in Carmel, Concourse d’LeMons in Seaside, the Little Car Show in Pacific Beach and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that is scheduled for Sunday, August 16.

The Pebble Beach Concours issued a hopeful but cautionary statement on its website.  

“We care deeply about the entrants, judges and guests of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and we want to act wisely in regard to this new challenge that we are all now facing,” the statement reads. “Our event is several months into the future, and we still hope to be able to celebrate our love of cars together on August 16, 2020 — so we continue to plan accordingly.”

Porsche 356 at the Werks Reunion | Bob Golfen

None of the collector car auctions – RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, Bonhams, Mecum, Worldwide and Russo and Steele – have announced cancelations of their live events. 

The wait-and-see attitude that now permeates Monterey Car Week planning would need to conclude sometime in the near future as the larger events, such as the Pebble Beach Concours, require a monumental level of preparedness.

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The Monterey, California, area, where hundreds of thousands of people converge for the festivities, would take a tremendous economic hit if the events of car week were canceled.

The projected progress of the pandemic remains largely unknown, which leaves everybody hanging and wondering whether Monterey Car Week could go on as usual. Expect to hear more in the coming weeks.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I think the cancellation is premature. Larger events, such as the PB concourse, require a ton of planning so I can understand the possibility of an early cancellations there but 4 months out and cancelling a car show?

  2. Hi from Athens, Greece.
    Wow 😯 BUT this is the right decision, early or not is of not importance…
    Anticipating that under the dire circumstances of the nasty 😷 #COVID-19 pandemic the entire #MontereyCarWeek will be cancelled…
    Das Beste 👌✅😃
    Byron

  3. They are still trying to find away to run the Rolex motorsports reunion without endangering the public. Many people still want to come to this event! I for one can’t wait to run again at Monterey! Hope to see you all at the track regards Captainmarco

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