Monterey Car Week: What to expect in 2024

A handful of niche annual events occur across various social calendars, many considered nothing less than a rite of passage. Music junkies have Coachella, cinephiles have the Cannes film festival and couture-whores have Paris fashion week. For many, these events are often seen as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not least because of the ultra-exclusive guest lists and inflation of prices that even the most padded of wallets would question. 

A few key events are akin to film festivals and fashion weeks in the automotive world. The British have the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival. The French have Retromobile and the Chantilly Concours of Elegance. The Swedes have the newly launched Auroura Concours, Italy brings us the legendary Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este and Fuori Concorso, and then there’s North America… 

Even if you have no interest in cars, the name Pebble Beach echoes in the circles of high society. This iconic Californian golf course is the most famous in America and hosts one of the most prestigious car shows in the world – The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Paired with the even more exclusive The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering hosted by The Peninsula Group, Monterey Car Week is not just a car event, it’s THE car event. I’m reflecting on my experience last year at some of the most highly regarded events in the automotive calendar to give you a glimpse of what to look forward to this year. 

For me, California has always been the automotive hub of the West Coast, prevalent throughout my childhood. I distinctly recall the famous “What’s the retail on one of those?” scene from the 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious, wherein a heavily tuned Toyota Supra MK IV took on a Ferrari 355 Spider and raced up the Pacific Coast Highway. Six-year-old Roger would have done anything to live in the Fast and Furious world. Fast forward twenty years and I find myself in California, just slightly further up the West Coast on the beautiful shores of Monterey. 

For self-proclaimed car anorak such as myself, Monterey Car Week is the car world’s equivalent to Paris Fashion Week. The week is filled to the brim with public and private events with a mix of VIP soirées and unveilings scattered around the evenings. It truly makes even the most meticulously planned head spin; it feels like you are being pulled in all directions, that is, of course, if your name is on the list. 

My first Car Week stop is in the heart of Monterey, the RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction. I’ve attended my fair share of automotive auctions, but the sheer amount of lots at Monterey was truly eye-opening. Some of the most notable cars in last year’s auction formed the ‘Lost & Found’ collection which consisted of barn-find Ferraris in various states of decay. After being stored in a barn in Florida which collapsed and damaged some of the Ferraris, the collection was not seen or moved in over a decade. As the collection was being auctioned as seen, the ingenious team at RM Sotheby’s decided to play into this story and display the cars in a junkyard-esque setting, complete with wooden beams and old tyres placed on top of the lots. Other lots that personally stood out to me were a delivery mileage Lexus LFA, Ferrari 550 Prodrive, Citroen BX 4TC and even a Rolls-Royce woody station wagon. The RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in their yearly calendar. As you can imagine, during Car Week there are a handful of auctions. However, if I were to choose just one to attend, this would be it.

As the sun sets, the red Ferraris and red bottom heels come out. Situated in the private hangars of the Monterey Jet Center, insurance giant Hagerty hosts one of the most exclusive parties during Car Week, MotorLux. 

As a lover of both cars and food, this event ticked all of my boxes. Private Jets? Got it. Exotic Cars? Sure. Food and drink from all around the world? Of course. You can be sipping champagne whilst being shown around a Gulfstream one minute, and viewing RUF’s latest and greatest models the next. Once you’ve had enough champagne (if there’s such a thing), head to one of the many gourmet food areas and sample the finest cuisines. In an hour, I had American Wagyu steak, paella, charcuterie and freshly grilled scallops – all whilst ogling some of the world’s rarest cars. As the sun set and the crowd flooded the dance floor, I headed towards the dessert table, the wiser choice of a man with two left feet. 

I have attended some of the most prestigious and exclusive automotive events, none of which could have prepared me for Motorlux. It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite events I’ve attended, with a unique day-to-night setting, a heavy focus on high-quality catering and hospitality as well as remarkable cars. 

Waking up early after a night of partying may seem impossible but I assure you, the Pebble Beach Tour D’Elegance presented by Rolex is worth the headache. At 7am, some of the priceless Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance entrants line up before embarking on a 70-mile round trip that takes them down 17-Mile Drive, Highway One, Big Sur and back again. The owners of these beautiful cars don’t only rebuke the ‘garage queen’ label but also take part in what is a Car Week tradition. Of course, some of the local traffic gets involved too – the difference is the traffic also consists of multi-million dollar cars. Monterey locals line up down the thirty-five-mile stretch of road with lawn chairs and cheer on the cars. I even made friends with a lovely group of ladies who told me it’s one of their favourite things about Car Week. Seeing the breathtaking coastline of Big Sur is worth the journey alone, the addition of multimillion-dollar cars just sweetens the deal. 

Once you’ve soaked up the breathtaking views of Big Sur and in my case acquired a couple of scars from scaling a cliff face, head on over to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. As much as Car Week is known for static shows, Rolex likes to host a plethora of period race cars for some friendly competition. If you don’t get distracted by the many gems that are scattered in the paddocks or car park, you can observe some quality racing from all around the track. As an avid Forza Motorsport player throughout my teens, I’m very familiar with Laguna Seca’s famous corkscrew. Seeing Saleen S7Rs, a Ford GT GT1 and even a Le Mans racing Audi R10 TDI was like reliving a video game. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is an opportunity 

As the mist and dew settle, crowds flood to The Quail Lodge & Golf Club for the namesake event, with last year being their 20th anniversary. The Quail, a signature event held by the legendary Peninsula Group, is arguably the most exclusive ticketed event of Car Week. It’s so exclusive that some even enter a raffle for a chance to buy a ticket. After receiving my pass, I could start to see why – it’s the only automotive event I’ve ever attended where I’ve been presented a menu alongside my pass. 


I sat down with the General Manager of The Quail Lodge and Golf Club, Kai Lermen, to understand more about this wonderful event. After a successful stint as Director of Food and Beverage as well as Executive Chef at the Peninsula Chicago, Lermen upped and left Illinois for the sunny shores of California. After arriving in his Honda Civic, Kai was faced with the challenge of revitalising The Quail. The Quail started with a group of friends who had bigger aspirations for the event, they wanted to create ‘the best car show in the world’. This is what sparked the evolution of The Quail, scaling the event up by giving manufacturers a platform to launch new cars whilst keeping the event exclusive. Since 2009, the event has doubled in size whilst staying true to its vision. The main goal is for everyone to have fun, eat great food and have space to enjoy the cars – I was told by a friend that ‘If it takes you more than 30 seconds to take a clear photo of a car, we’ve got work to do’. Since the event was all-inclusive, the hospitality element was paramount. Starting with the themed marquees across the event, representing different Peninsula Hotels such as the newly established Peninsula London, Peninsula Istanbul and the legendary Peninsula Singapore. Each marquee had its signature dishes, cocktails and unique interior design. The Peninsula Group have gone above and beyond to create an immersive experience which transports attendees of The Quail to different cities around the world. 

It’s not all cocktails and crudités, it is an automotive event after all. Countless debuts were made throughout the morning. Pininfarina debuted their B95 – a striking 1874bhp electric hyper-barchetta without a roof or windscreen as well as their ‘Pura Vision’ which gives us a glimpse of Pininfarina’s vision of what a Luxury Utility Vehicle would look like. Maserati took the wraps off the 730hp, limited run, track-only race car, the MCXtrema –  their most powerful car yet. RUF unveiled their third car of the week with their ‘Tribute’ – a homage to their roots with an air-cooled 3.6L twin-turbo six-cylinder paired with a carbon fibre chassis. Zenvo broke the internet with their 6.6L quad-turbocharged V12 that powers their brand-new hypercar, ‘Aurora’. Bugatti celebrated their ‘Golden Era’ whilst parent company Rimac revealed a limited 12-unit-run version of their Nevera hypercar, the Nevera Time Attack. Lotus surprised the crowds with their ultra-exclusive, track toy, the Type 66 – a ‘lost Lotus’ born from company archives. Bentley presented a strong lineup including the new Bentayga EWB Mulliner, the most luxurious iteration of the Bentayga. Lamborghini turned the volume up on quiet luxury by ushering in their electric ‘Ultra-GT’, the Lanzador Concept which is slated for a 2028 release. Aston Martin dropped the top on the DB12 and presented the DB12 Volante and the stunning Valour.

In addition to the new cars on display, there were several classes of cars up for awards. Some classes included the 50th anniversary of the 2.7 Carrera RS, Porsche 959 and eyes on Italian design. These classes attracted some of the most iconic cars from my childhood, such as the Lamborghini Concept S – what is essentially a Gallardo Speedster and even a group of Aston Martin One-77s. Of course, there were traditional classes too but the winner of ‘Best In Show’ was the one-of-one Pininfarina-bodied 1956 Ferrari Superamerica “Superfast 1”. 

For me, The Quail sets the standard for all other automotive events on the calendar. It takes your standard automotive garden party and elevates it with the full force of The Peninsula Group. An exquisite collection of cars paired with an immersive dining experience and five-star hospitality. Only after you experience the event do you understand why there’s a raffle to get a ticket. 

The Saturday of Car Week is a bit of a free-for-all; several events are ticketed and free throughout the day. You could head back to the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, go to Seaside for Exotics on Broadway or even the Concours D’Lemons – the polar opposite of what we’ve seen all week, a car show dedicated to the bad, the worst and the ugly. I used this time to take a breather, see what cars were parked up around Carmel, catch the Ferrari owners club driving along 17-Mile Drive and check out some of the stands at Pebble Beach. 

The final day brings us the penultimate event of Car Week; the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Undoubtedly the largest show of the week, the first fairway proudly displays Ferrari’s latest supercars and heritage customer race cars. The concept lawn is where you’ll find the new releases seen across the week, and the competition field is where judges scrutinise cars and prizes. 

I started the day with a coffee at the Bugatti stand, taking a closer look at their ‘Golden Era’ which I first saw at The Quail. To celebrate the closing chapter of the renowned W16 engine Bugatti has used since 2005, a Bugatti VVIP collector in the US commissioned the one-off Chiron Supersport ‘Golden Era’. Through Bugatti’s ‘Sur Mesure’ (custom-made) programme, this client was able to specify one of the most bespoke Bugatti’s made to date. This bespoke example features hand-drawn sketches of various legendary Bugatti models prevalent throughout the eras of Ettore Bugatti, Jean Bugatti and Roland Bugatti. You’ll find ninety hand-drawn sketches that can be found inside and out, all depicting key milestone cars for Bugatti such as the Type 57 SC Atlantic, Type 41 Royale and Veyron. If a bespoke Chiron Supersport isn’t enough, there was also a Mistrale and Bolide presented in the same colour (no guesses as to who the owner was). 

Bugatti, now a subsidiary of Croatian EV Hypercar-maker Rimac, will be subject to some drastic changes in the coming years. I do not doubt that they will stay on the internal combustion hybrid model for as long as they can and am intrigued by how they can top their groundbreaking achievements. I do not doubt that with Mate Rimac at the wheel, they will be steered in the right direction. 

Moving into the main show itself, the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance provides a completely different atmosphere from what I’d experienced throughout the week. Everyone was dressed to impress with the crowd being comparable to that found at Royal Ascot. An appreciation for classic cars reigned supreme at Pebble Beach. The cars I saw earlier in the week cruising down Big Sur were being meticulously scrutinised by judges, leaving no bonnet or interior untouched. After a lap of the green, I retreated into the blissful hospitality at the main lodge, the perfect spot to cool off and watch the award presentation. There were many categories last year because of the many automotive anniversaries 2023 held. The most notable categories for me were the Porsche 75th anniversary, Lamborghini 60th anniversary and McLaren 60th anniversary. Seeing the cars take the stage and awarded trophies as the Californian sun beats down on the audience was an appropriate ending to a week of cars and events.

Monterey Car Week is a petrolhead’s nirvana, a sensory overload where one must expect the unexpected. Multi-million dollar classic cars parked up at strip malls are the norm and Bugatti’s are more common than Teslas. Car Week is a safe space for collectors and enthusiasts alike, both of whom rejoice in endless car chat. Those conversations often spark ideas for other car events, epic road trips and even bespoke builds in the future. Each event throughout the week has its own identity and atmosphere, the parties and dinners create everlasting memories behind closed doors and the calibre of cars are beyond anything I’ve ever seen. 

It’s a collection of events like no other, and it’s no wonder many consider this the greatest car event in the world. If you love cars and have a week to spare in August, I implore you to spend that week in Monterey.

Roger Chan

Roger was born and raised in Essex, surrounded by the car culture of the late 90’s and early 00’s which has fuelled his adoration of cars ever since. The proud son of two Hong Kong immigrants, Roger has an equal passion for cuisine, travel and exploring new cultures. Since 2015, when he started pursuing photography Roger has worked with some of the world's most significant car manufacturers from McLaren to Maserati and BMW. Roger’s work has been featured across The Review's automotive articles and his work can be seen via his social accounts.

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