The Quail: A Carmel car show with prestige, civility

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Monterey Auto Week has something for every enthusiast. High-end auctions throughout the Monterey Peninsula attract wealthy silent bidders from far-flung countries. The Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach serves appropriately as a grand finale with its rarities and fanfare.

The Concours on the Avenue in Carmel and the Little Car Show in Pacific Grove are free. They define the charms of small-city gatherings and the passion owners have for their vehicles regardless of value.

The 15th edition of The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, will be held August 18 in Carmel.
The 15th edition of The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, will be held August 18 in Carmel.

Likely the most successful event in recent years during the August automotive pilgrimage is The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering. Billed as a “Luxurious Lifestyle Event,” the invitation-only show will celebrate its 15th edition August 18 at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel.

Reasons for the show’s increasing popularity are several fold. Each year, The Quail has a unique theme. This year, more than 250 vehicles with a focus on sports and racing. Luxury manufacturer debuts and test drives are also annually anticipated.

The Quail’s best attraction is its all-inclusive presentation and its attendance limit of 5,000. The guests, whose $650 tickets were selected via lottery in February, receive parking, a collectible event poster and magazine, a gourmet lunch served at six culinary pavilions as well as wine, spirits and local brewery selections. The show will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Among this year’s highlights: a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS, 1965 BMW R60/2, 2009 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante, 1964, Alpine M64, 1938 Packard Model 1601 and a 1982 Lancia Model 307.

The Ferrari 275 GTS, a limited production model, was the first of the Italian carmaker’s road-going icons with independent rear suspension and a rear-mounted transaxle. The 1964 Alpine M64 debuted in its first year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 1965 BMW was originally designed as a motorcycle capable of pulling sidecars.

Featured classes will include: Originals and Mid-Engine Marvels, Pre-War Sports and Racing Cars, Post-War Racing Cars, Post-War Sports Cars 1945–1960, Post-War Sports Cars 1961–1975, Sports and Racing Motorcycles, The Great Ferraris, Supercars and Custom Coachwork.

Like several shows during the 10-day automobile nirvana on the Monterey Peninsula, the Quail’s civility is refreshing. With a limited attendance capacity, vehicles are showcased for comfortable viewing. Lines for test drives and the exhibits of other vendors are well managed.

The Quail’s setting, the scenery of the Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, further enhance a day of unabashed automotive joy. Its early years were intimate and unheralded. The fifth-year anniversary in 2007 was limited to 3,000 attendees and tickets cost $200.

The 2007 celebration was also particularly notable for several anniversaries: the 100th birthday of legendary racer Briggs Cunningham, the 50th Anniversary of the Ferrari 250 GT Series One Pininfarina Cabriolet and the 75th Anniversary of the Monte-Carlo Rally. The event paid tribute to 50 years of racing at nearby Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Comedian Jay Leno, well-known for his diverse automobile collection, first attended The Quail in its early years and often arrived in one of his vintage Bentleys. He still regularly attends, mingles with the crowd and jokes with reporters. He has lunch with random attendees, including with me twice. His enthusiasm for the showcased vehicles is contagious.

One of Leno’s better quips occurred when he commented to a local television interviewer: “The cars are great, but I’m here for the food. It’s real food, not just a hot dog on a stick.”

Despite The Quail’s sold out lottery status, two potential exceptions for tickets remain: a patrons’ program and a waiting list. Details are available on the event’s website (http://signatureevents.peninsula.com) or by contacting organizers, 831-620-8879.

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