Out of all the events held during Monterey Car Week, The Quail was by far the my favorite. If you don’t mind feeling like a peasant amongst all the wealthy (tickets cost do $600), you can spend a couple of hours surrounded by some of the rarest and most exclusive cars on the planet.
A few years ago, Jalopnik’s own Raphael Orlove went and lost his damn mind. I can relate.
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering—to give it its full name—has been held every year during Car Week since its debut in 2003. Essentially it’s a motor show focusing on the very best historic cars, both from the track and the street.
Throw in the fact it’s held on a world renowned golf course operated by The Peninsula Hotel. Free champagne and five buffets with a different theme of cuisine almost make you understand why tickets costs so much.
Well, no, there’s no absolute way of justifying the price. But then there’s no justifying paying millions of dollars for the cars on display. In a way, the entry price and its exclusivity make some sense.
I’m not all for these types of shows. I usually like events that can be enjoyed by a wide spectrum of enthusiasts, not just a the one percent crowd. I was curious about The Quail because in previous years everyone have said great things about it, and the cars on display always amazed.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here: the Pagani Zonda Tricolore was the highlight of the show for me. It’s not exactly what The Quail is all about, but it’s the car I would’ve driven home in if I could’ve. Only three of these Zondas exist and they hold a special place in Pagani’s history; they were the first colored carbon bodied car to come out of their factory.
What’s even more amazing is the fact these cars aren’t even road legal in the United States so seeing one on Californian soil was even more of a treat. Pagani would probably not be too happy about that as the new Huayra Roadster was what they would’ve wanted people to give their attention to.
We’ve already seen the Huayra Roadster when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and out driving on the Pagani Raduno in Tuscany. The car displayed here was the U.S. spec car with reflectors and larger wing mirrors.
Alongside the Roadster were several Huayra coupes with varying specifications from standard coupes, Tempesta Packages, and hardcore BC variants. Particularly noteworthy is the blue Huayra BC with red accents as it’s the only Huayra BC destined for Japan. The owner took delivery of this car during Car Week.
Speaking of cars from Japan, the turquoise Koenigsegg Agera RSR was displayed alongside some of its Agera RS relatives. Two Agera RS, the black “Draken” and the pastel grey with orange accents made their public American debut at The Quail. Taking center stage was the first customer Regera to be delivered in North America featuring the new Aero Kit for the car.
But enough about the modern supercars. Perhaps the biggest highlight at The Quail is the fantastic mix of classic cars.
For 2017 there was a particular focus on pre-war sports and racing cars, supercars, great Ferraris, sports and racing motorcycles and what they dubbed mid-engined marvels.
My knowledge of classic cars, particular pre-war cars, is relatively slim. But I was still able to appreciate the impeccable condition of all the cars on display. One very special ride was the Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Monza. You’ve probably noticed the large Prancing Horse shield on the side of it. It’s the very car Enzo Ferrari raced with during his career at Alfa Romeo. He’d go on to take over Alfa’s F1 team, and the rest is history.
It’s appropriate a car which basically kicked off Ferrari’s history would be present during the 70th Anniversary of Ferrari. Celebrations have been happening all year round, with The Quail not being an exception. Several of the “Great Ferraris” were put on the lawns of The Quail Lodge & Golf Club.
From the 250 GT Calfiornia Spyder to the F40, a dozen or so of Ferrari’s most sought-after dream machines were parked next to one another. There were multiple 275 GTBs, a fair number of 365 GTB/4s, several variants of the 250 series, 599 GTO, a F12tdf, and even a 599 Spyder Conversion with a 550 Bachetta style design. It was quite odd that there was no LaFerrari, Enzo, F40, 288 GTO, or 250 GTO in the lineup of “Greats.” Do better next year, millionaires!
As great as all the cars were, some had to stand out more than others. Like most shows involving concours-condition cars there was a prize giving ceremony at the end. One car from each of the featured category took home a best in show prize, and the ATS 2500 GTS taking home the top honors.
What made The Quail different to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and in some ways reminded me of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, were the number of newer cars on display. Rolls Royce had their new Phantom sitting high on their stand. If you want to show off your new luxury limo The Quail and the attendees is the ideal place for it.
There was the BMW 8 Series Concept, the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept, Ken Okuyama’s insane Code 0, Infiniti’s awesome Prototype 9 EV electric retro-racer concept, the Guntherworks 400R Concept, the new-generation Lexus LS, the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a very lovely dark green Lamborghini Huracan Performante, and Jaguar’s bonkers Project 8 sedan.
Cars are only one aspect of The Quail show. The food and drinks available were some of the best I had all week. Once the food pavilions opened at 11 a.m. on the dot there was a mad rush towards each of them. Tables quickly filled with ravenous spectators, because hey even rich people want free food.
It was quite the scene to see where once there were crowds around cars there were none. I had hoped to had done a sort of tasting session at each one, there were five different pavilions specializing in Italian, French, Chinese, and American food. After going to the French and Italian buffets I had more than I could eat. Free champagne however, I always had room for throughout the day.
As great as it was, it’s not ideal as a day long event. I’d probably spend a couple of hours here max. I was also surprised by a few omissions of cars on display. There were no McLaren F1s despite 2017 being its 25th anniversary. There wasn’t even a McLaren stand at all.
Bugatti didn’t even show the new Chiron; instead they had two Veyrons and an old pre-war model. While there was a Murcielago displayed, there was no Diablo, Countach, or Miura. The latter was a surprising omission.
Even though it’s not an event I’d usually go to, and certainly one I wouldn’t be able to afford, I found The Quail to be a throughly enjoyable show. I can certainly see the appeal of going spending a couple of hours here looking at some fantastically rare cars while having your fill of great food and drinks.
I’m already curious to know what cars—and food—will be there next year.