Every year in August, thousands of automotive enthusiasts congregate on the Monterey Peninsula for an event that has come to be known as Monterey Car Week. It’s not just ONE car show – it is numerous car events. There are multiple classic car auctions, vintage racing at Laguna Seca, casual car shows, tour d’elegance events, all culminating with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday.
The underlying theme of all of these events is: wealth. Collector cars are not cheap to own or maintain, and certainly not cheap to restore. Even traveling to Monterey to admire them as a spectator is no small expense. The Monterey airport is small and flights are comparatively expensive. Lodging and other accommodations skyrocket during Car Week. Many of the shows themselves have admission fees, and that’s if you can even get in (I have been denied twice by a certain Motorsports Gathering).
Many of the cars on the lawn at Pebble Beach – Packards, Duesenbergs, Rolls Royce, and others, are cars that were owned by wealthy families during the first half of the 20th century. Today, these cars are being cared for and looked after by other wealthy families. The cost of owning, repairing, or restoring a pre-war classic car is well beyond the reach of the average middle-class American, and these events are a constant reminder of wealth – those who have it, and those who do not.
But in all of the formality of Monterey Car Week, an event emerged that bucks tradition. This event also celebrates a love of automobiles – the oddball, mundane, and the truly awful of the automotive world. It is free to everyone, and showcases cars that truly, anyone could afford. This event is the Concours d’Lemons, a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek event that showcases the weird and wonderful cars of the world. Instead of droning on, I think it would be better to share some pictures of the 2019 event, which demonstrates the camaraderie and spirit of fun that this event was founded upon.
1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
This 1972 Karmann Ghia is so rusted out that the tow straps are actually necessary to hold the car together. At the time of writing, this car is currently offered for sale by Dodi Auto Sales of Monterey, CA for $1,200. This car would be unwelcome at any other car show, but fits in perfectly at the Concours d’Lemons.