Monterey Car Week has become synonymous with the ultimate celebration of the automobile.
From thought-provoking panel discussions with industry leaders about the past, present, and future of the automobile, to glamorous, star-studded parties, exciting historic car races and thrilling test-drives, here’s why this year’s Monterey Car Week was bigger and better than ever.
To kickstart Monterey Car Week, we woke up bright and early one morning to head out to Tehàma Golf Club (which is a private golf club and residential development in Carmel, California owned by Clint Eastwood) to watch the start of the renowned Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance (which is an integral part of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance).
As Forbes magazine describes the Tour d’Elegance, “In this awe-inspiring drive that traces portions of the famed 17-Mile Drive, hundreds of vintage cars traverse the roads and show off their impeccable elegance.” The parade of spectacular historic automobiles travels from Carmel to Carmel-by-the-Sea and returns to Pebble Beach, giving spectators around the Monterey Peninsula the opportunity to see these beautiful vehicles in action.
Whether you’re a vintage automobile collector or simply have a love of all things retro, this Monterey Car Week event is one of the best opportunities to witness these incredible cars. Plus, it’s always fun to see the proud car owners (usually dressed to the nines) behind the wheel of their beloved vehicles.
To culminate the week, these automobiles are displayed at the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. At this year’s Concours, the car that received the honor of “Best of Show” went to a Touring-bodied Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B.
“As a Zagato collector, I broke the rules and bought a Touring-bodied car because this Alfa Romeo is very special,” said longtime entrant David Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California. “It is a piece of automotive architecture mounted on a Grand Prix chassis that has technology that was top of the line for prewar cars. It’s a wonderful combination. It’s beautiful from top to bottom.”
“This Alfa Romeo 8C 2.9 has all that one would wish for in a car—speed, style and, frankly, sex appeal,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “The Touring styling is simply magical, and to top it off it makes all the right noises!”
The Pebble Beach Concours gathered 209 cars from 17 countries and 31 states on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. This year, the Concours also raised $1.8 million for charity. Through the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the primary charitable partner of the Concours, these funds will benefit over 80 local charities, impacting the lives of more than 10,000 children annually in Monterey County.
While Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was the beginning of Monterey Car Week (getting its start in the 1950s), over the decades, Monterey Car Week has grown into a week-long celebration for automobile manufacturers, collectors, and car aficionados.
Throughout the week, car brands host a variety of events (ranging from VIP parties for clients and select guests to test-drives, forums, and world premieres of new vehicles). As part of this year’s Monterey Car Week, Alfa Romeo invited us to join them for a few of their celebrations.
Early one morning (after doing an Alfa Romeo-hosted “Yoga in the Vines” at Folktale Vineyards), we test-drove the sporty Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. This sleek, sexy SUV handled more like a sports car than a typical SUV, while still providing the comfort, convenience, and everyday practicality of an SUV.
This powerful machine (which boasts a V6 turbo engine and 505 horsepower) handles smoothly while gripping the curves of the road, making it a thrilling driving experience. Plus, since it features all-wheel drive, you can have the best of both worlds – a car that works both on the road and off (for when you want to have an adventure).
To celebrate Monterey Car Week (and the rich history of the Alfa Romeo brand), Alfa Romeo welcomed us to their VIP Party at Folktale Vineyards in Carmel.
Attended by celebrities like Racecar Driver and former Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. and HGTV’s Flip or Flop star Christina El Moussa, the beautiful event was hosted by Alfa Romeo in collaboration with Motor Trend magazine.
To kickstart the evening, Ant Anstead (the British television presenter, motor specialist, car builder, and co-host of the “Wheelers and Dealers” show with Mike Brewer) revved the crowds with a cheeky speech about Alfa Romeo and the significance of Monterey Car Week to the automotive world. He was joined by Motor Trend’s Angus Mackenzie, who shared more insight into the history of Alfa Romeo (and touched on its racing background).
Since Italians are known for designing some of the sexiest, most powerful cars in the world (and for hosting the best parties), after enjoying our time with Alfa Romeo, we were off to visit with the Maserati team next.
Inviting us to a private lunch at Quail Meadows (in Carmel) and to test-drive the new Maserati Levante SUV, we were treated to a delightful afternoon with this renowned brand. Boasting a century-long history of producing gorgeous luxury vehicles, we were excited to take this stunning new car out for a spin around Carmel Valley.
With its impeccably-designed interior and sleek, sophisticated exterior, this SUV is more than just an everyday car. It was designed to handle like a sports car, while still offering all the amenities and conveniences that a luxury mid-size SUV can provide. Plus, with the intuitively-designed manual paddles located on the steering wheel, putting this sexy beast into sports-mode is easier than ever.
Whether you’re dressed for a gala event or just running errands, this gorgeous car is suitable for any occasion. For those adventurous weekends with the family (when you want to get a little dirty while having fun), the car’s 5-way active air suspension offers maximum off-road capability.
Since Monterey Car Week brings the world together in one central place for the week, it was fitting for us to travel from Europe to Asia (in just 20-minutes, of course) by heading from Carmel to Pebble Beach to visit with INFINITI for the Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum.
At the forum entitled “Big in Japan: Future Collectibles from the Model A to the 240Z”, Motor Trend’s Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh led a riveting discussion with industry leaders including former Mazda Executive Designer Tom Matano, Co-Founder and CEO of Bring a Trailer Randy Nonnenberg, host of Motor Trend’s hit series, JDM Legends, Erik Bizek, former Editor of Super Street magazine and actor in The Fast and Furious, RJ de Vera, and Senior Vice President for Global Design for Nissan Motor Co., Alfonso Albaisa.
The panel discussed the evolution of automobile design and manufacturing in Japan, touching on brands like Infiniti, Nissan, and Toyota. When talking about how Japanese-made automobiles have changed throughout the decades, Ed Loh exclaimed that the Infiniti FX “was a game-changing SUV crossover that really gave birth to what we’re seeing now.”
Having owned a Lexus RX330 (and coming from a family that has owned several Japanese-made cars), I’ve always been impressed with the stylish, contemporary designs and advanced technologies that these Japanese auto brands have focused on.
When it comes to leading the automobile industry, Japan is definitely one of the biggest rivals to Italy.
After spending time with Infiniti, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, we were off to learn about an innovative new car brand called BYTON. With the motto “It is not about refining cars. It is about refining life.”, BYTON is being poised to directly compete with the electric car giant, Tesla.
Designing a self-driving electrically-powered luxury vehicle (in both a sedan and SUV version), BYTON is definitely a brand that should be on everyone’s radar. Their marketing team told us that they plan to introduce these new cars into the USA market by 2020 and look to offer them at a fair starting price of $45,000 (which, if they succeed at doing it, will truly give Tesla some heated competition).
Founded by former BMW executives and led by past Apple user experience designers, the BYTON team (which has its global headquarters based in Nanjing, China) is intent on re-designing the user experience.
Instead of focusing on the traditional “driver and passenger” model, they believe that each “user” in the car should be treated equally, providing them with all the amenities that they could wish for.
From mobile-phone charging docs to sleek interactive computer displays, BYTON vehicles look like futuristic luxury spaceships that even the Jetsons would be wowed by. With an impressive digital screen that takes up the majority of the dashboard, the displays are designed to cater to both the driver and the passengers (as it offers entertainment as well). During the demo of their prototype SUV, the team told us that “85% of this car will go into production; so there won’t be many changes”.
As BYTON starts introducing these new electric cars, it will be interesting to see how the USA market responds, as we predict this will be the hottest upcoming brand to enter the automobile industry.
As our society continues to demand more advanced technologies, improved efficiency and power, and more visually-beautiful and comfortable designs (that truly fit our active lifestyles), the pressure on car brands to exceed expectations year after year continues to grow.
From legendary historic cars to innovative future designs, as you can see, Monterey Car Week was truly the ultimate culmination of the past, present, and future of automobiles.
To learn more about Monterey Car Week, check out previous year’s coverage of these events on Inspirations & Celebrations.
[Photography by James Molinaro]