Monterey Car Week is a true pilgrimage for car people, something serious enthusiasts should attend at least once in their lifetime. Whether you want to watch the world’s most significant race cars tear around Laguna Seca Raceway, don your best pastel-colored slacks and hobnob with the rich and famous at the Pebble Beach Concours, or see the best of the worst at the Concours d’Lemons, Monterey has something for every car fan.
The first Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was held in 1950 in conjunction with the Pebble Beach Road Races (1950-56). It outlasted the races and became the gathering place for the best and the shiniest (mostly prewar) rides in the classic car community each August. Pebble Beach has continued to grow in the decades since its introduction. Racing came back in 1974 with the first historic races at Laguna Seca, and the first auction was held in 1986. Since then more and more events have sprung up during the week leading up to the concours on Sunday. These days, in addition to the concours and the races, there are at least a half-dozen auctions, smaller concours events and shows, rallies, club events, seminars and cocktail parties.
Given all the fanfare around the concours, manufacturers have taken to Pebble Beach to debut their products, with high-end dream cars like the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Pagani Huayra Roadster, and the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Concept, all of which saw their North American debut at Pebble. The auctions, meanwhile, make for some of the biggest highlights of the week; total sales have stretched past $350M and even $400M in years past. The current auction world record still stands from Monterey in 2014, when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for $38M. This could be the year that beats that world record: Another GTO has been consigned for this year with a low estimate of $45M.
This year there are hundreds of mouth-watering collector cars of all shapes and sizes crossing the block in Monterey. The list of good stuff there goes on and on, but here are three pairs of similar collector cars on offer in Monterey this year.
- Presale estimate: $160,000 – $180,000
- BMW’s original M3 has practically quintupled in value over the past six years and is the darling of BMW people everywhere. At this point, it’s worth more than its M5 and M6 peers that were both faster and quite a bit more expensive when they were all new. Gooding’s example is a two-owner car with less than 10,000 miles on the clock, so it’s about as close to a brand new E30 M3 as you can find.
- Presale estimate: $150,000 – $175,000
- Launched as an independent customizer of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, AMG is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, offering the highest performance version of each Mercedes model. It names with two digits instead of Mercedes’ usual three. This SL 65 AMG Black Series is one of 175 built for the US. It has more than double the mileage of the BMW, but it also offers twice the cylinders and more than three times the horsepower.
- Presale estimate: $1,500,000 – $1,800,000
- Ferrari built only about 200 275 GTSs, and like plenty of other V12 Ferraris from the 1960s, it has been a seven-figure car for quite a few years now. This particular Ferrari packs red-leather upholstery inside and a Smoke Gray exterior, and it was sold in 1966 to Ferrari’s official North American distributor in Connecticut. It took a Platinum Award at the 2013 Concorso Ferrari in Pasadena, California, then repeated at the 2018 version of the event.
- Presale estimate: $1,900,000 – $2,500,000
- The DB5 is already one of the more valuable vintage Astons due to its rarity and looks, and the connection to James Bond doesn’t hurt, either. This one is a dream for Aston collectors, because it’s a very rare convertible model, and it was built to more powerful Vantage-spec at the factory, making it one of seven cars equipped like this. So while the 275 GTS has a Ferrari badge, this Aston has a lot going for it.
- Presale estimate: $4,600,000 – $5,000,000
- The 550 was Porsche’s first serious racing model, and the 550A introduced a stronger spaceframe chassis, handling upgrades, and more power from the famously complex four-cam Carrera engine. It was a featherweight giant killer that routinely blew the doors off much larger and more powerful cars, and this one consigned by RM Sotheby’s has a good West Coast racing history.
- Presale estimate: $5,500,000 – $7,500,000
- This Ferrari 500 Mondial consigned by Gooding & Company has more in common with the Porsche than you might think. They’re both endurance road racers from 1955 that were internationally competitive in their day, and each is from one of the most famous manufacturers in racing. Like the Porsche, though, the Ferrari is also a 4-cylinder car. Designed to score on reliability and compete in smaller displacement classes, the Ferrari Monza and Mondial series of sports cars used a Lampredi-designed twin-cam four to great success in the 1950s. Because they lack a “proper” V12, however, the 4-cylinder Ferraris are worth considerably less than their larger 12-cylinder stablemates from the 1950s. As for this car, its value is right in the neighborhood of the Porsche 550’s.
Monterey Car Week includes some of America’s premier car events, but anyone who wants to spend a little time with cool cars and car people can find plenty of opportunities to do so. But before you visit a local show, read our article on everything you need to know about a car show.
Which car do you think will drive away with the highest auction bid?