Ever since I found out about its existence, Monterey Car Week has long been one of those trips that I’ve always wanted to go on. For petrolheads, there’s no greater event in the global automotive calendar. Why is that? Well, it’s a mix of the world’s most expensive cars, beautiful scenery, seemingly endless bottles of champagne and did I mention the world’s most expensive cars? We were lucky enough to attend Monterey Car Week 2022 (August 12th – 21st) as part of a holiday to the United States and here’s what we experienced:
Getting to Monterey:
While a lot of Car Week attendees fly to Monterey or to nearby San Jose, we were invited by Mercedes-Benz USA to drive up from Los Angeles. California weather, Highway 1 (y’know, the iconic Big Sur and the Bixby Bridge!) and a bunch of new and old Mercedes-Benz models. I know what you’re thinking: life could be worse, right? Definitely.
This particular trip saw cars from the Mercedez-Benz Classic Centre, including an SL55 AMG (which you’ll get to read about soon), an SL280 Pagoda, a 300SEL 6.3, a 380SL, and the car we were lucky enough to drive: a 2007 CLK Black Series (also keep your eyes peeled for that incoming article). Plus, a new AMG G63, a Maybach S580 and two examples of the brand new AMG SL63 also tagged along, as well as a C300 convertible camera car.
While the first part of the drive – up the 101 highway – wasn’t at all eventful, we stopped at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California for lunch. If you’re into kitsch, it’s perfect – it’s covered in lots of pink colouring, lots of cheesy merchandise and tons of genuinely good food. It was also a good chance to talk to various Mercedes-Benz USA staff, including those from its fancy new Classic Centre in Long Beach, California. If being passionate about your job was an olympic event, these guys would get a gold medal.
After lunch, we crossed to the wonderful Highway 1 and were met with the constant views. Known for the usual fog that rolls in after lunch – it’s called Carl, by the way – the Central Coast of California (not New South Wales) is just stunning. Driving so close to the water can feel unnerving – especially when the clouds can cover the view and make you feel like you’re on top of them – but when you’re in a classic Mercedes-Benz, nothing comes close for awesomeness. Rolling into Monterey at around 8pm capped off a great 10-hour day – an amazing start for what was to come.
The Quail, A Motorsports Reunion:
The Quail, A Motorsports Reunion – or just ‘the Quail’ for short – is the motorshow style event at Monterey Car Week. It’s hosted at the renowned Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California, and for one day, becomes home to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cars. It starts with walking through the car park, which is a great pre-cursor to what’s being shown. Notable examples of car park royalty included a few examples of the Bugatti Chiron, several Ferrari F50s, a few Porsche Carrera GTs, a Pagani or two, at least five Koenigseggs of varying types and even – from Mexico, of all places, thanks to the US’ 25-year import laws – a Renaultsport Clio V6.
Unlike the Concours at Pebble Beach, the Quail is predominantly new cars and 2022 saw some mega-dollar reveals, including the Koenigsegg CC850, Lucid Air Sapphire, 992 series Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Lamborghini Urus Performante, Acura Precision EV concept, Bugatti Mistral, Rimac Nivera and Meyers Manx 2.0 Electric.
There were also a number of concept cars revealed at the Quail this year, including the Lincoln L100, Cadillac Celestiq and Acura Precision EV. Previewing futuristic – and all-electric – flagships for these brands, they were important showings for these brands, especially to such a wealthy crowd of people.
Monterey Motorsports Reunion:
Held at the world-famous Laguna Seca Raceway – and its infamous ‘cork screw’ corner – the Motorsports Reunion is an event that hosts many races for cars of all types. This year was a particular highlight as it was celebrating 100 years of Le Mans, and the cars that were shown beggars belief.
When we arrived, there were several races with countless racing cars that are worth millions – particular highlights from 2022 included the McLaren F1 GTR race car, the new Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, the Gordon Murray T50 and even ex-Stig Ben Collins thrashing the new Lucid Air Sapphire around the track. But we were there to take the new Audi RS e-tron GT around the track – you’ll be able to read about that soon – and spoiler alert: it was amazing.
Like all other events at Monterey Car Week 2022, the Motorsports Reunion was where you literally live and breathe cars. What makes it even better is that you get to see – and hear – them pounding around the track, which was an amazing sight. It was a real goose bump-raising experience for me.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance:
Of course, the final event in the Monterey Car Week 2022 event calendar is the big one: Pebble Beach. This is where some of the world’s most elegant, expensive and rare cars are shown to the world and then judged for a best in show award.
While the Quail has lots of new metal, Pebble Beach focuses on much older – and in some cases, more valuable – cars. This year’s best in show was a 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo, which was absolutely stunning in person. Other notable entrants included a 1936 Bugatti Type 57, a 1933 Horch 780 Sport Cabriolet, a 1948 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet and a 1944 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta.
Outside the main events:
While the individual events were amazing, my favourite part of Monterey Car Week 2022 was that for a week, Monterey’s streets are littered with priceless cars. In one week, I saw more Bugattis than I’ll likely ever see in my entire life again, while – again – some of the world’s rarest cars were on show. Of particular note were cars like the Ferrari 456 Venice (one of six of the four-door wagon made for the Sultan or Brunei), Touring Superleggera Disco Volante, various Singer Porsches, seemingly infinite Koenigseggs, several versions of the Pagani Huayra, more than a few copies of the McLaren P1 and several examples of my personal favourite car: the Porsche Carrera GT (and its newer 918 sibling).
The best part about seeing those exotics was not that they exist – though, that is pretty amazing in itself – but that you didn’t have to search high and low for them; they just were literally everywhere. I likened the whole week to a video game like Forza Horizon where there are many ‘normal’ cars driving around, but exotics just absolutely litter the streets. If you can think of an exotic car from the last 50 years, chances are that there were at least one of them at Monterey Car Week 2022.
Overall, Monterey Car Week 2022 was utterly incredible. If you ever have a chance to attend it, I beg you to take it because for petrolheads and car lovers, it simply does not get any better. Where else can you see literally billions of dollars worth of cars, picturesque scenery, eat amazing food and drink seemingly endless champagne? Monterey Car Week has it all and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend it. Fingers crossed for next year!
A big, big thank you to Steven Ewing, Acura (including our wonderful driver Edgar), Audi USA and Mercedes-Benz USA for making Monterey Car Week so special for us. We really appreciate it!