With high-dollar exotics screaming down the highways and rare concours-level vintage machinery putting around town, it’s awfully easy to get a bit jaded during Monterey Car Week.
The exclusivity of the events, the caliber of the cars, and the sheer amount of money moving through Monterey makes it easy for your automotive senses to become entirely saturated.
Still, one show always proves to bring some very cool surprises. This isn’t to say that Pebble Beach or any of the other swanky gatherings don’t, but somehow Legends of the Autobahn remains a bit more relevant to me. Granted, some of the cars here are entirely unattainable for the average car enthusiast, but they’re still a bit more relatable than a World War I-era roadster that hasn’t been driven since before the Second World War started.
At Legends of the Autobahn we’re talking 2002s, Alpinas, a smattering of older AMG-spec cars, and even a presence from BMW themselves. There are a few other German automakers represented by the cars that show up, but one was quite obviously missing: Porsche.
This is by design, as it seems Porsche seems to occupy roughly half of any other gathering during Car Week. That’s nothing against Porsche — and hats off to them for having such an enthusiastic fan base — but it does get a bit tiresome to see row after row of 911s. How about row after row of nice old Bimmers and Mercs instead?
Again, that goes back to Monterey Car Week just being so full of amazing machinery that even old air-cooled goodness and newer GT2-spec cars begin to feel like clutter.
Well, rules were meant to be broken, right?
There isn’t usually any of that stuff from Stuttgart here, except that this year Legends of the Autobahn teamed up with RADwood to include a handful of oft-underappreciated cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
This meant a few Porsches and some cars of non-German origin did sneak in, but I suppose that’s acceptable. After all, they were pretty rad.
While small, I really enjoyed the well-curated RADwood display as, again, these cars are a lot more relevant to the average car enthusiast. I like to think I’m fairly average — and I’m certainly no millionaire — so I tend to enjoy looking at cars that I could feasibly afford either now or in the future. Or at least the top-spec and rare versions of cars that fall in the range of reasonably attainable.
Between RADwood’s setup and the rest of the show was a pair of displays put together by Michelin Tires as well as BMW’s Motorsport division. In other words, BMW brought a number of X-series M-cars — rather, M SUVs? — but it was a bit weird to me as I’ve never seen an X5M participating in motorsport. This isn’t to say these aren’t surprisingly capable vehicles, but it’s still a shame to see literally every single mass-producer of the automobile focusing the bulk of their resources on crossovers.
In fairness, BMW did show off the new M8 and a handful of coupes as well, but I skimmed over this to check out the main event.
Further on was a fantastic spread of exactly what I came for: dozens of vintage Bimmers and Mercs in all their old school glory. There were a handful of newer cars present, but you’ll notice I didn’t focus much on these. The same goes for Audi and Volkswagen, so if you’re a big fan of VAG I apologize.
On that note, I do have a pair of spotlights coming which focus on my favorite BMW and my favorite Mercedes-Benz from the show. And if you’ve noticed these photos are a bit pedestrian, that’s because I’m putting together a gallery full of vintage detail shots as well.
But for now, head to the gallery below, and don’t miss that wicked 500E at the end. It still smells like it did the day it rolled off the showroom floor.
Trevor Yale Ryan
Additional Photos by Sara Ryan