I knew we were getting close as we drove past a man dressing up as an astronaut and getting into an unrecognizable heap in the parking lot of an upscale hotel. Crappy, crumbling and generally awful, this is Concours d’Lemons 2019.
Monterey Car Week is more often than not associated with speed, money and design. It’s a week for the aristocrats to flex their spending power and cruise around in historic cars to show they’ve still got it. While I love it all, each year I look forward to the quirky event that celebrates the decrepit and weird, rather than elegant and expensive. A sort of pompous tension can fill the salty air during Car Week, and as such Concours d’Lemons serves as comedic relief.
This event feels like it’s a kitschy mash-up between avant-garde comedy, Monty Python, and a car show. It’s almost one part theater, one part reality. Owners dress up in bad Halloween costumes and try and bribe the judges with cheap alcohol. The announcer says ridiculous things in perfect MC inflection like “this year we will be giving out the ‘Take-Me-To-Pebble-Beach-In-Your-Car’ award.
So if any of you are headed there later with your car come find me.” Meanwhile, awards like ‘Worst of Show are sought after. The whole thing is just generally goofy as heck.
I’d like to imagine some first-time Car Week attendees stopped here thinking it was something fancy on their way to the track, and were a little confused.
Hopefully this very… interesting Ferrari would impress them.Fan Favorites
A particularly puzzling vehicle was this Chinese scooter bubble car. I have a thing for tiny stuff, so this little coupe was a definite favorite of mine. I don’t think it makes much sense to own here in the States, where much of the time spent in cars is on the highway, but in crowded cities I’m sure this little pink pencil eraser is perfect.
I’m not sure what’s going on with this dirt-mobile, but I am certain there is not another concours event that would allow it to park on its premises. However, it’s perfect for d’Lemons.
It was hard to miss this shag van. The thing was the quintessential 1970s hangout; it oozed hippy angst and we all ate it up.Respectfully Weird
Despite poking fun at traditional concours events and celebrating everything opposing high end, many one percenters show up too, some of which will go on to attend Pebble Beach the next day. Maybe one of them will get the previously-mentioned award…
The organizers manage to maintain a tasteful spirit while commemorating the cars that everyone loves to hate. There isn’t an anti-establishment or anti-aristocrat tone at the event, but rather a simple shout-out to the creative and quirky cars of enthusiastic weirdos.
I didn’t see a single face without a smile on it, and that’s sort of the point of car culture, right? To keep people smiling… At least it should be, and Concours d’Lemons in Monterey last weekend did a great job of doing just that.
Additional Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan