By Sean Costa
Turning off the Pacific Coast Highway towards Monterey after 15 hours of travelling was a relief. Pacific Grove felt passive and dreamy even at 9.00pm, with there being a distinct feeling that this was the calm before the motoring hordes were to arrive.
The town seems to be fanatical about this week – the concourse, ‘The Quail’ and the racing at Laguna Seca. Even our hotel, The Martine Inn, has a deep connection with the car world. There is sporadic car art amongst a traditional background, including original stained glass MG windows.
“Don Martine, our owner, has a collection of MGs you’re welcome to have a look at,” is the proud statement from the innkeeper (yes, that’s how he referred to himself). Noticing his nametag said Grady Martine, I asked if he was any relation. It turned out Don was his grandfather.
It gives a tired tourist a warm feeling to find that his digs are not only completely fit for purpose, but that they also reflect the serene, comforting, familial environment that Monterey conveys.
The afternoon was spent in the exclusive setting of the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours where the famous Ocean Avenue hosts 175 cars from modern and classic eras, with classes across luxury cars, muscle cars, hot rods and sports cars. My first experience of the event was a laid-back affair. The streets are lined with the sort of boutiques you’d expect to see on Sloane Street with the cars providing the wow factor for the day. You swiftly understand why Clint Eastwood was elected mayor here!
The awards process was good-natured in feel, with standard categories being taken into account (originality, authenticity, provenance, etc.), but it also had additional factors like ‘youthful dreams’ and ‘fun factor’ that gave the event an air of not taking itself too seriously. Indeed, a breath of fresh air compared to the normal concours vibe.
A couple of stand-out winners (in my mind) were the 1963 Ferrari Superamerica and the winner of the Carmel Foundation Award, a mint condition 1964 VW Bus (above) that highlighted the event’s easy-going personality. The Ferrari was humorously described as ‘super before the devaluation of super’, a philosophical phrase that made me re-evaluate the very definition of the word.
That said, if I could own any it would be the 1957 Porsche Carrera Speedster (above) that not only won the Laguna Seca award, but turned out to have been raced there in 1958…
Monterey Car Week has something for everyone, but there’s so much going on that you need to be fairly picky with the events you attend. Here’s a selection of potential highlights:
Automobilia Monterey From books to luxurious fine models, if you are a collector of all things automotive this event is a must.
Monterey Car Week Rally Awesome cars being driven on the spectacular backdrop of the roads of Monterey.
Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance Exquisite cars tour elements of the famous 17-mile drive ending up in Carmel for all to view.
The Quail, A Motor Sports Gathering A lavish celebration of iconic racing marques and the motoring lifestyle.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Held at Laguna Seca across the weekend. Highlights on Saturday will include the vintage F1 race and the Group C class, where five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell is competing.
Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance The main event, not to be missed!
Auctions need their own mention, with opportunities to buy the fine and rare across the entire week. Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Company can usually be relied upon to provide the motoring world with record-breaking car sales.
Click here for a full list of events