- The premier event at the week-long Monterey car extravaganza is Sunday's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance which has earned a reputation as the world's most exclusive classic car show.
- This year, that event will feature about 200 rare and exotic vehicles, from Packards to Delahayes to Ferraris.
- While smaller, "The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering" on Friday has become one of the week's hottest tickets – and the most expensive.
For classic car fans, there's only one place to be this week: California's Monterey Peninsula, where more than a dozen events offer a chance to see, and even purchase, some of the world's most desirable antique automobiles.
The premier event is Sunday's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, which since its 1950 debut has earned a reputation as the world's most exclusive classic car show. That event will feature about 200 exotic vehicles, from Packards to Delahayes to Ferraris, and attract thousands of fans to the grounds of the Lodge at Pebble Beach.
But there's another show building a reputation as a must-see event during what has come to be called "Pebble Beach Car Week." While smaller, "The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering" on Friday has become one of the week's hottest tickets — and the most expensive.
Those who'd like to attend can expect to shell out $950, or well over twice the $375 gate fee at the Pebble Beach Concours.
"But you don't need to concern yourself with that," said classic car author and enthusiast Larry Edsall, who cautioned that tickets for the event are distributed by lottery six months ahead of time. Waiting lists are already being collected for the 2020 show. Those with deeper pockets can opt for the $2,500 patron ticket, but even those were gone well before the event.
What's the draw? The Motorsports Gathering "is not only known for its vehicles, but also for the luxury lifestyle and fine culinary components," said spokesman Carson Glover. The tickets not only get fans onto the grounds of the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club but include unlimited food and beverages.
Despite the bottomless glasses of champagne, however, the real appeal is the collection of cars, motorcycles and other vehicles that dot the resort's landscape, starting with an array of winning Ferrari race cars.
What is known to fans simply as "The Quail" has a much narrower focus than the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, an annual competition of classic cars with nearly 30 different vehicle classes that cover everything from the earliest cars ever built to vehicles owned by celebrities. It puts the emphasis on performance vehicles, particularly those that have spent time on a track. That can include not only race cars but motorcycles and even some vehicles designed solely to capture land speed records.
This year's Quail Gathering will see a number of automakers use the event as a backdrop to debut some new products. That includes Acura, which is introducing the Type S Concept, a thinly disguised version of the all-new TLX sedan going into production next year. The show car also hints at a new performance sub-brand the Japanese automaker is launching.
Bugatti, meanwhile, is using the Quail event to showcase its $18.7 million La Voiture Noire, billed as the most expensive new car ever sold. But the exotic automaker also has announced plans to "unveil the next great project for La Marque," though it has yet to offer details on what that will be.
Whether it's those new car previews or the rare classic vehicles, there's an ongoing, if publicly low-key battle between the Quail Motorsports Gathering and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
A member of the Quail team declined to discuss the behind-the-scenes efforts to secure vehicles, but a long-time veteran judge at Pebble Beach asserted that the older of the events still tends to be the place that collectors will go to first, given a chance to show off their prized cars.
Disclosure: Paul Eisenstein is a freelancer for CNBC. His travel and lodging to Pebble Beach were paid for by Bentley Motors.