Currently I’m in California for Monterey Car Week but with a couple of free days before the main events, I wanted to get a taste of the local car scene here. Naturally that led me to the Sunset Plaza GT meet on Sunday morning. Let’s just say I’m a long way from Japan in more ways than one.
If you’ve been near any sort of internet device you may have seen photos and videos from this meet that’s only been going on for a few months. It’s basically a crazed fest of supercars and carspotters at a car park just around the corner from Beverly Hills. Suffice to say, I was excited to get there.
I was curious to compare a somewhat “typical” meet in Los Angeles to the meets I know and love in Tokyo. From what I gathered reading comments, car meets in America are slightly less controlled and civilized than the ones in Japan so in my mind I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst. And yeah, the Sunset GT was by far the craziest meet I had ever been to.
We got there at around 9 a.m., just when the show was kicking off. There were already several supercars such as Lamborghini Aventadors, Ferrari 458s, and far too many Porsche 911s.
There were a couple of special cars in the reserved ‘hypercar’ section such as a Bugatti Veyron and a LaFerrari. As the meet went on, more hypercars came. Koenigseggs, McLarens, and Paganis made am appearance, giving me the chaos I was prepared for.
It was the McLaren P1 GTR that came in first. You could already hear the stampede of spotters and photographers running to get a shot of it. Compared to Japan the excitement and amount of people there was definitely on a different level.
Within seconds the car was lost in a sea of people, never to be seen again. It was great to witness but no so great for anyone trying to get photos. Sure it’s all well and nice seeing people appreciate what’s essentially a race car being driven on the road but it was quite overwhelming. That said, if you drive around in a car with as big of a wing as a P1 GTR then you should expect some attention.
That was nothing compared to when the two Paganis showed up; a Huayra and Huayra BC. You may recognize these guys from this year’s Pagani Raduno in Italy. The East Coast based cars will be joining other Pagani owners as they head to Monterey.
Before they could cause any commotion up north, they stole the show at the Sunset Plaza. I had never seen so many people gather around some cars in my life.
When the blue carbon Agera R showed up it somehow managed to do it with relative subtlety. This was was redone by its new owner with a black interior, as opposed to the blue and white interior it had before, and a gold wrap inspired by the Agera RS Naraya in London. The wrap didn’t look as good as the real gold leaf details on the Naraya; here it looked more like fish scales.
Just when I thought the craziness couldn’t get more... I don’t know, crazy, one of the newest Koenigseggs to come out of Ängelholm, the Agera RS1, made a surprise appearance. This is one of the 25 Agera RS but has the 1,380 horsepower upgrade from the One:1. As the RS1 parked up it literally stole all attention away from the pair of Paganis. For the the first time since they arrived at the show I could finally see the Huayras in full.
Of course it wasn’t just hypercars at the meet. My personal favorite from the entire meet was this one random Ferrari 550 Barchetta. I love these cars and this one in silver with red interior was perfect. Ferrari’s last limited edition open-top V12 with a manual will surely become a classic.
A few honorable mentions include a couple of Porsche 911Rs, a 911 GT3 RS with weird exhausts, a Dodge Viper ACR (something we don’t see much in Japan), a chrome gold wrapped Mercedes SLS, a Diablo VT Roadster, a very confused Murcielago LP640 with SV decals, and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio that was actually in running order.
People say Japanese car meets are diverse, but this particular meet was more diverse than I was expecting. Classics, supercars, JDM, and of course some American cars. The random Chevelle out in the back with the bonnet (sorry, hood!) open was a real treat. A proper American muscle car in America. Of course, there were several Corvettes and Mustangs too.
Speaking of, while I was going to inspect a curious looking Mustang the owner came towards to the car to move it closer to the main parking area. He told us it was a custom made car taking nine months and 10,000 hours to complete.
Only the A-pillars were carried over from the original Mustang. The custom work for the Vicious Mustang was done by Timeless Kustoms and has a 5.1-liter twincharged V8 producing, he claims, “over 1,000 horsepower”. Power is sent to the 355/30 19-inch rear tires via a six-speed sequential transmission. It’s got 6-piston Brembos up front and 4-pistons at the rear to anchor it to a halt. It was all very impressive, as was the physical presence of the car.
Luckily there were a few reminders of my home. The Liberty Walk Ferrari 458 was a nice surprise. The widebody Supra and Toyota 86 with the massive wing were very much straight out of Japan.
Interestingly, there was a Nissan 240SX convertible with what appeared to be the rear from a Silvia. It was definitely an interesting and confusing thing to see. While it wasn’t part of the meet, there was a lone R34 Skyline GT-R out on Sunset Boulevard.
As great and crazy as the cars and everyone’s excitement were, I’d have to say it wasn’t the most enjoyable meet in the world. The cars just sort of parked there, still with too many people around them and everyone else standing around waiting for more cars to come in or to leave. They also had random supercars in the supposed “hypecar” section. In the end there were only around five hypercars there, the RS1 didn’t even have a space and just parked randomly around the same area.
The level of enthusiasm is different in America too; I was surprised at how many people would jump out in front and behind cars, on the road and in the car park, just to get the shot. There even a few people following the cars out of the car park, probably in hopes of getting a rolling shot next to it.
One thing that never changes, no matter where you to spot cars: the police presence. The one patrol car didn’t pull anyone over despite a couple of cars revving and accelerating hard out of the meet. It just seemed like they were there to keep an eye on things. I guess having the police hanging around a universal experience we all must share at car meets.
Let’s see what Monterey has in store. Bring it on, America.