Monterey Car Week is a great place to spend money — especially if you have tons of it. Unfortunately, I blow all my extra cash on a ridiculous hooptie fleet — a fleet that uses its vast array of leaking fluids to make my driveway look like an abstract painting. My poor life choices make it impossible to afford the $800 nightly rate for the posh Inn at Spanish Bay, right in the heart of Pebble Beach. Instead, I spent only $45 to sleep inside a small garden shed located in some random person’s backyard.
The ad on Airbnb describes this room-for-rent as a "simple retreat garden cabin" that’s surrounded by nature. The simple part is accurate, but calling it a cabin is certainly a stretch. The host purposely didn’t post photos of the "cabin" from the exterior, as it’s obviously a storage shed. While the shed’s interior lacked any improvements to make it more homey, like insulation and drywall, it was decorated with several motivational messages — like what you find in offices with an overzealous HR department.
Of course, there are many positives to this space, obviously starting with the price. At $45, it was the cheapest bed available in Monterey. Even the Motel 6 is nearly $300 a night during this crazy car week, and prices rise dramatically from there.
For warmth, the host provided an electric blanket, which I had never experienced before. I was a little apprehensive to use it, as I vaguely remembered my grandmother telling stories of electric blankets shorting out and burning people alive, but when I did switch on the contraption, it felt great. The shed also had a lovely view of my newly purchased 1995 Mercedes C36 AMG, which performed flawlessly for the trek south from San Francisco.
While I did have a few insects crawl up my leg, and I had to trek across the yard to the main house if I needed to shower or use the bathroom, the location couldn’t be beat. I started my first day in Monterey parked on the famous coastal 17 Mile Drive, watching the Concours d’Elegance cars putter by. I didn’t arrive quite early enough to see all the vehicles line up beforehand, which gives you access to all the incredible vehicles being shown at Sunday’s main event — without spending over $300 for the admission ticket.
A short 17 miles may not seem very challenging — but since many of these vehicles are around 100 years old, breakdowns are bound to happen. I witnessed more than a few owners experiencing million-dollar versions of my normal life, with their cars needing to be hauled away by a tow truck.
After cruising down the scenic coastal road in the AMG, I made my way over to Laguna Seca Raceway, which hosts the historic races. Thursday is a practice day — and at only $30 for the entry fee, it’s a total bargain. Tickets for the main event Saturday are over $100, but you still see plenty of action during Thursday’s practice. Many of these historic race cars are priceless and irreplaceable — and are ridiculously expensive to maintain. Despite this, the owners still drive the hell out of them. Seeing these historic race cars in their natural element, rather than sitting in museums behind velvet ropes, is an incredible sight.
Once the practice session wrapped at Laguna Seca, I made my way over to the Bonhams auction, one of the major classic-car auctions taking place during car week. Access to the Bonhams preview is another bargain. For only $20, you can drool over cars almost never seen in public. The highlight of the Bonham’s auction was a street-legal 1995 McLaren F1, which later fetched over $15 million.
I spent the rest of the weekend exploring various car shows, meeting with friends and car-spotting around town. Spending hundreds of dollars on the fancy show tickets seemed pointless when the parking lots are just as interesting — if not more interesting — than the main event. With so many free gatherings taking place throughout the weekend as well, it’s pretty much impossible to get bored.
Even with my rustic lodging and skipping the big-ticket shows, I still had a fantastic time at Monterey Car Week. With that said, I certainly wouldn’t turn down Pagani for the weekend, along with a suite at the Quail Lodge for next year — if anybody is feeling generous. Find a 1995 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG for sale