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HomeCar CultureA Week In Monterey

A Week In Monterey

Highlights include judging events and attending The Quail

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Monterey Car Week is a whirlwind of events that happen each August in and around the beautiful Monterey peninsula in California. It is the single biggest weekend in the collector car hobby and thousands of car enthusiasts attend. The week is anchored by the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on one side and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the other. These are only two events of a total of more than eight different judged car shows, five auctions, eight seminars, countless manufacturer sponsored parties, new car introductions, and more.

Spectators attend some of these events however attendance is usually limited, but when you are a working journalist during the week things are a bit different. The pace is a lot more hectic.

Monday

My week started out with my arrival at San Francisco airport, picking up my BMW M2 press loaner and then heading down to Monterey immediately to be on time for a dinner I host each year for a group of friends at Monterey Fish House. I host this event as it is the last time anyone who is attending Monterey Car Week can really unwind and relax before the madness starts. In the parking lot of the Monterey Fish House my BMW M2 press car made a friend.

Tuesday

I got up at 6:00 AM and headed down to breakfast with the staff of Classic Motorsports magazine to prepare for their show later that day in Pacific Grove. The Monterey Kickoff Show is the first event of the week, where it has nicely filled the gap created by the loss a few years ago of the Carmel on the Avenue Concours. I am involved as both the head of the car selection committee for the show and the head judge.

After breakfast we all set out signs and cleared the streets to get ready for the car roll in at 1PM.

The cars arrived early, as they tend to do, and our volunteers and staff did an amazing job of parking the more than 200 cars in attendance. I held the judges meeting at 2:15 PM and, after making some quick changes due to some missing judges as a result of flight delays, sent them out to pick their favorites. This year’s show was better than 2022, and there were even more amazing cars in attendance. That meant the judges all had their work cut out for them.

At 5:00 PM we announced the winners, and our Best of Show award went out to Matthew Ivanhoe for his spectacular yellow Jaguar XJR-15. The car was one of only 28 ever built and was absolutely perfect and completely original.

When the show was finished, the judges and sponsors got together for an after party dinner and I then headed to my hotel for bed.

Wednesday

Got up again at 6:00 AM to get ready for my two Classiccars.com Journal auction tours of the day with the first at Bonhams at 9:00 AM. I was on site by 7:30 so I could see the layout of the cars offered and plan the tour route. I had been studying a number of the cars for weeks, but it helps to actually see them in person and ask the specialists about each car to get some more information. I also met my tour co-host Mark Hamilton Peters. MHP, as he is known, is a professional racing driver and driving coach. He’s a great addition to my tours as he adds a lot, especially when discussing vintage race cars. Yes, he really dresses like the picture below when not racing.

My tour co-host Mark Hamilton Peters

Of the many cars on offer that I spoke about during the tour, I had 3 personal favorites. The first was a 1951 Ferrari 212 Barchetta. I picked this car as it is not only a beautifully restored example, but it was also a finisher in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans. A stunning car that ended up selling for a strong $3.9 million hammer price.

1951 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta

The second pick was 1955 Porsche 356 Continental in driver condition. This blue car was a bit scruffy but would make for a nice car for tours and shows. I say shows as a funny thing happens with older worn cars. When they are presented at a show against fully restored cars, they tend to gather more attention than the shiny ones as the look and finish of cars like the little 356 tells a story of how the car was used. I also loved this one, because it was the exact first model Porsche that my dad owned when he was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force. That car ended up selling at the auction on Friday for $215,000 which I feel was an excellent buy.

1955 Porsche 356 Continental

After the tour at Bonhams I quickly drove my M2 over to Monterey to get ready for my second tour at RM Sotheby’s.

My tour at RM Sotheby’s took a few hours to go through the more than 300 cars on offer there. They literally had anything you might want.

This year the folks at RM did something absolutely genius. They had a consignment of Ferrari cars that were badly damaged during a hurricane in Florida. The cars were displayed at the back of the outside viewing area as if they were just found in the collapsed warehouse. There were tires through windshields, wood beams through hoods and even a 330 GTS with extensive water damage that had a stuffed raccoon in the drivers seat. I made friends with the raccoon, named him Sparky, and carried him around for about an hour to much laughter. I hope the person who bought the 330 GTS got to keep the scruffy litter fella as he was pretty cute, and with a sale price of $1,010,000 for a car that likely needs a complete restoration should have included something extra.

All of the cars from this collection were in need of serious work, but quite a few of them were likely bought as the cost to buy and then restore them still made them cars with a lot of upside based on the purchase prices.

My favorite two cars at the auction were vastly different, except that they both were built in the UK. The first was the car at RM that sold for the highest price of all their cars during the weekend, the 1957 Jaguar XKSS chassis number XKSS 707. This car was finished in a stunning blue and was once owned by Anthony Bamford.

The XK SS

The second car was one of my all time favorite cars of the week, a 1973 Aston Martin V8. This car was my favorite as it was the exact one used in the Timothy Dalton James Bond film The Living Daylights. The car included the “Q” supplied skis and the rocket engine in the back making the perfect 007 souvenirs. Strangely the car was a no sale and sadly I do not have the required money to buy it, though I hope it gets a new owner who is as crazy about James Bond as I am.

The 1973 Aston Martin V8 from “The Living Daylights”

I spent some time after giving the tour at RM catching up with some friends and then we headed to dinner. We could have attended the Hagerty Motorlux event, but all of us were just too tired and wanted a quiet dinner. After dinner we all headed off to our hotels for some much needed sleep.

Thursday

You might think that the days got easier during car week, but you would be wrong. I was up again at 6:00 AM to get to Legends of the Autobahn. This is an event in Pacific Grove that for Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen cars. The event has both a judged section and a display only section, so anyone with a car from a German manufacturer is able to attend. I got into the M2 and on my way over found myself in a caravan of E24 BMW 6 Series coupes. We entered the event and after some confusion I got the M2 placed on the BMW factory display area. You see, this was my last day with the M2 and I traded it to BMW for a 760i.

I walked the show and the first thing I saw was the new curated Alpina display. This was a new class at Legends and it was something to see. I ran into my friend Matt Russell who works for Alpina and talked about the brand with him while looking at the cars on display. That display had my favorite car at Legends: an Alpina B7 Turbo coupe which is based on the BMW E24 6 Series coupe.

The show was very well attended, and after having a nice lunch on site I headed out in my 760i to Pebble Beach to pick up my credentials and do a little shopping for souvenirs.

While at Pebble Beach, I ran into my friends Matt Strauss and Phillip Richter. We did some shopping, checked out the Gooding preview, and then Phillip and I headed off to the Broad Arrow radius sale at the Monterey Jet Center. We only spent about 30 minutes there as we both had other engagements later that night, so I dropped off Phillip and headed out to a party that MHP invited me to.

I arrived in time to see MHP coming from racing at Laguna in a Porsche 911R, still dressed in racing gear. I spent about an hour at the party and then had to race off to dinner. We got out of dinner at around 10:00 PM at which time I headed back to the hotel to be ready for the events of Friday.

MHP with the Porsche 911R

Friday

Of all the events during Monterey Car Week the hardest ticket to get is to The Quail Motorsports gathering. These tickets are very limited, and also cost $1,200, making them the ticket everyone wants to get. I was initially not planning on attending, as I had missed the media deadline and figured I would not be able to attend. However, Thursday night my friends David Lillywhite and Geoff Love of Magneto Magazine surprised me with a Quail ticket. This means I was up yet again at 6:00 AM in order to meet them to pick up the ticket and attend this great event.

The coveted Quail Credential and yes that is by Friend Peter Gleeson’s car on the front

I know the $1,200 price might seem pretty steep, but The Quail is an amazing event unlike anything else that happens during car week. The admission includes all the amazing food and wine you can drink, some truly spectacular cars both old and new, and the opportunity to spend time with friends and even meet some serious racing car drivers, designers, and other VIPs in the automotive world. While there I ran into longtime friend Tommy Kendall, who I was able to introduce to my friend Peter Gleeson. Peter is also the owner of The Quail cover car, a BMW M1 Art car painted by Frank Stella and originally owned by Peter Gregg. I also ran into nine-time Le Mans driver Tom Kristensen, Derek Bell, and a few others.

The cars vary at The Quail, from new introductions of the highest end exotics to cars on display from the pre and post war eras. This, combined with the limited crowd and the amazing food, makes The Quail something extra special.

After leaving The Quail at 1:00 PM, I headed back to RM and watched day two of the auction from the car corral in front of the Portola Plaza. There I ran into friends and watched what cars were selling for. The prices seemed strong and they were selling quite a few cars. I ate a gourmet dinner at Taco Bell and then headed to my hotel to upload photos and sleep.

Saturday

I woke up again at, you guessed it, 6:00 AM to get to my favorite event of the week: Concours d’Lemons. If you have not attended a Lemons concours, you should do so. It is a celebration of cars that are largely forgotten. I think of it as a concours for the cars that live on the Island of Misfit Toys.

The Concours d’Lemons was started by my friend Alan Galbraith, and it is probably the most inclusive of all the events during car week. If you want to see the world’s greatest examples of an Eagle Premiere, which won in the class I judged with friend Larry Webster of Hagerty Media, or an amazing Pinto, or a Porsche 911 that looked to be held together with duct tape, Lemons is where you will see them. This is a judged show that features judges who are well respected in the concours world, but we all come out to Lemons due to how fun and relaxed it is when compared to other concours events.

The coveted Worst of Show award, which goes out to the best/worst car on the field, was won by a Yellow lemon-themed Citroen. Instead of confetti that the Best of Show winner is showered with at Pebble Beach, the Lemons “winner” is instead appropriately sprayed with Silly String.

Photo by Josh Sweeney – Shoot for Details

After Lemons I went to the track to check out the cars in the paddock at Laguna Seca, and spent time with one of my oldest friends in and out of the car hobby who was racing. You see, when you race at Monterey it takes most of your time and if I wanted to see my friend Lars it had to be at the track. Keep this in mind if you are a racer, as the track is an incredible time commitment and does not allow you to attend most other events. However, going to the track as a spectator is well worth doing! It is a rolling museum of motorsports history.

After the track I headed back to RM to see the Saturday lineup of auction cars. There were some strong sales including the XK SS that I loved so much. I then headed to a 5:30 dinner, as Sunday meant getting up early to be in time for Pebble Beach.

Sunday

Got up at 4:00 AM, put on the Ted Baker suit that I bought especially for Pebble this year, and headed to the concours. I ended up getting there at 4:45 AM and found that the shuttles did not run this year until 7:00 AM. Wanting to get to Pebble Beach for Dawn Patrol to see the cars roll in, and try to get one of the coveted Hagerty Dawn Patrol hats, I walked about a mile to the show field. I arrived at 5:00 sharp and ran into friends and talked while we awaited the hat handout. My friend Tom Plucinsky from BMW was attending for the first time, so when someone handed me a hat I gave it to Tom. Happily, I was given one a little later. Mission accomplished.

We walked the field and checked out the cars at what is the world’s finest concours. Every class contained some of the most amazing cars you will see anywhere and the Pebble Beach Concours is truly a must attend event. At 10:00 AM they open the doors to general ticket holders and the field filled with people quite quickly.

I spent the morning look at the cars, seeing old friends and even meeting new ones.

By 11:00 AM it was hard to see the cars, so I decided to head out at this point. I got a call from my friend Dave Buchko from Lucid PR and we camped out at a restaurant in downtown Monterey. We watched the awards ceremony on my phone over lunch where we saw the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster win the coveted Best of Show award.

Photo by Richard Owen

Monterey Car Week came to a close with a casual and relaxed dinner at Baja Cantina with friends, the perfect way to end a fun and hectic week.

If you have not attended Monterey Car Week I urge you to do whatever you can to go. Do not try to follow my crazy schedule, but instead pick the events that sound like the most fun. Contrary to popular belief many have either no charge or a small charge for parking. The ones that are the truly must attend are the Rolex Reunion races at the track, Concours D’Lemons on Saturday in Seaside, and of course The Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance on Sunday. The track is not inexpensive and Pebble is a bit pricey, but you will regret it if you don’t go to both. I hope to see those who have yet to attend next year in Monterey. Sign up for the auction tours and be sure to say hi!

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 carsā€”none of them normal or reasonableā€”as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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