Monterey Car Week On The Cheap

Monterey Car Week is one of the most anticipated weeks of the year for car enthusiasts.

If you live a life with cars at its center, it’s worth making the trip at least once. There’s a menagerie of just about every genre of motor vehicle punctuated with outrageous watches and six-figure outfits.

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The week is certainly catered to the fancy folks and their even fancier shows like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, The Quail, McCall’s, and The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

However, Car Week also has a number of free events, and they’re what I’m going to focus on in our final story from Monterey, California.

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‘Free’ is used loosely here, because hotels are well aware of the demand and during the week their room rates skyrocket. The cheapest place I could find this year was a camping space in someone’s backyard for $50 a night on Airbnb.

But if you plan months ahead for lodging and scout out local grocery stores for lunches, you can do Car Week on the cheap. So that’s the first tip.

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Tickets to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance range from $500 through to$3,500, and with other events following the price trend, the week can seem impossible. Beyond just driving around and seeing McLarens and Ferraris eclipse Camry and Civic numbers, Monterey Car Week does have some quiet corners of affordable automotive activities.

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On Monday, Porsche Monterey hosts the Porsche Classic. Numbers are limited but it’s free to RSVP.

If you don’t want to front the ticket money for the Werks Reunion later in the week, this is a good way to get a sample of the cars that will be there. A rainbow of Porsches in varying vintage roll-in and park up for an evening of good conversation, free champagne, cigars, and high-brow miniature snacks.

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Tuesday morning boasts one of the most impressive free car events I’ve encountered: Carmel-by-the-Sea hosts Concours on the Avenue along Ocean Ave. It’s hard not to feel somewhat special as you walk past dozens of spotless historic, luxury and custom cars of all genres framed by timelessly elegant shops, and billionaires in their Sunday best on a Tuesday.

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If you only have one day available for Car Week indulgence, Saturday is the day. If planned well, you can manage a full day of varied and free car events.

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Saturday morning in Seaside offers two events across the way from each other. Valt Auto Club attracts some more niche JDM and modified fan favorites, while Concours d’Lemons invites owners to flaunt their most mediocre vehicle.

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After a good giggle, a trip up the road lands you at Legends of the Autobahn, a traditional German car show that’s been going strong for nearly 30 years. Dozens of the best BMWs, Mercedes and Audis from all eras engulf hungry enthusiasts. It’s clear at Legends that cars can become an art form and a center for community – a common theme across all events during Car Week.

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The point is, you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy Car Week. A million bucks and a private jet might add a bit more spice to your week, but there’s loads of things to spend your time exploring in Monterey. If I’m sure of anything it’s that simply being in the city will guarantee a rare car-spotting, and with a little work and planning an affordable trip is totally doable.

Sara Ryan
Instagram: pockowokosara

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After seeing how well Goodwood is presented, Monterey just seems outdated as far as car show go. Awesome machinery, just a very static event


The action is at Laguna Seca, where the historic racing takes place. It's about 6 miles from downtown Monterey and makes up for the "static-ness" of the downtown events. :)


I watched a couple of the live streams and it was mostly parade laps around the track. It was cool seeing them in motion, just different than the battles I've seen around that other festival


Hey Nate I agree Goodwood seems to set the standard and vintage racing in Europe just seems a bit more aggressive overall. But at RMMR there's something like 14 run groups based on era/class that each get two races, plus qualifying and practice sessions. And they race the prior weekend as well. There are some parade laps at lunch, and always a few guys not pushing very hard in each group, but plenty of fairly serious racing going on especially at the front!


Yeah- some are driven in anger. Some (admittedly)- not so much...


Love the coverage, the photos and the words. Nice work, Sara.


What is that green car with 650KIF license plate?


1960's TVR Griffith.


Bravo! Great shots, especially the perspective(s)


Thank you! Loved these pictures. The Volvo, Riley, TVR, etc. lovely to see these.


Love that you can still enjoy Monterey Car Week on a budget lol



Are you new to S.H.? One of the top 2 coolest sites on the internet! For car people. How much money is at this show?!!!! That DeTomasso with the wing is SICK! And a green Testerrosa is EXTREMELY rare! There's 3 white Ferraris running around New Jersey. One of my school kids on my bus 6 years ago, his dad is VP of Finance for Ferrari here in Jersey. I'm a Porsche-guy for life. That engine compartment with the orange paint is SO CLEAN. Nice pics. Was Clint Eastwood around? He lives in Carmel.


Man the light blue Testarossa it's sick.