Monterey Car Week is an assault on the automotive senses.
I say that from the point of view of a Koenigsegg employee who’s accustomed to seeing Koenigsegg cars everyday and familiar with the reactions they draw from a crowd.
There’s little that can prepare you for Monterey Car Week in general terms – the quality and variety of the cars on show is astounding – and nothing can prepare you for the adulation a collection of Koenigseggs receives when it arrives at an event during Monterey Car Week.
For example…. (and please bear with me because this story sums up our week at Monterey in a nutshell, and is a story deserving of a full telling, for history’s sake)
Cannery Row is an old, industrial part of Monterey that’s full of beautifully restored buildings. There’s a variety of restaurants, galleries, and souvenir shops that’ll keep you busy for hours. Cannery Row in late summer is usually bustling with tourist traffic and the sounds of happy families enjoying a summer holiday on the California coast.
All of that changes on Friday night during Monterey Car Week.
Cannery Row is still full of tourists during Monterey Car Week, but those tourists arrive in one of two ways: in a mid-engined V8 or something similarly exotic, or on foot with the smell of gasoline in their nostrils and a camera in their hands.
And here’s the moment when events tipped the automotive senses….. an event that surprised everyone, most of all the man himself.
Friday night during Monterey Car Week means it’s time for an event called Exotics on Cannery Row. It’s a crowd favourite, an event where visitors get to see as much modern automotive exotica as they can handle. Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Jaguar, McLaren, Aston Martin, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Lexus, Pagani, Bugatti, and of course…. Koenigsegg. All are represented, though it’s fair to say that the Koenigsegg contingent caused a bit of an extraordinary stir this year.
Photos by Julia LaPalme, Lisa Johansson and Steven Wade. Click any photo to enlarge.
We know that our cars are appreciated in the United States. We know that people are very interested in what we do.
We put that down to two things: first, the passion we put into designing and building our cars to ensure that they’re the best high performance sports cars in the world. Second, the way we share our story, to let people know exactly what the cars can do, and what goes into the them in terms of design and engineering. Of critical importance in that task is the work done by our CEO, Christian von Koenigsegg.
The Koenigsegg fleet, comprising 10 vehicles, had been at an event called The Quail all day and arrived at Cannery Row to an already-full crowd. The pandemonium that broke out at the arrival of the first few Koenigseggs was only topped by the arrival of the Regera, with Christian von Koenigsegg at the wheel.
People were pushing items into the Regera’s windows for Christian to sign even as he crept up to the designated parking spot at the Michelin stand. As he parked the car, opened the door and stood to say hello, the whole crowd broke into a massive round of applause, with multiple people calling Christian’s name in an effort to shake hands with the man and take photos with him.
As I mentioned at the outset, we’re used to our vehicles causing a stir. This was something completely different, however – a rockstar welcome, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
To say Christian was surprised would be the understatement of the century. To those who meet him, he’s very affable and happy to talk about the cars that bear his family name. Those who know him outside of that environment, know that he’s a very quite, humble man, someone who’s not quite comfortable with the level of recognition he receives, who steps into the spotlight out of necessity rather than out of desire.
If you need one story to tell you how Monterey Car Week was for Koenigsegg Automotive, that’s the one. Big crowds with cameras and amazing displays of enthusiasm and appreciation, beyond what any of us could have reasonably expected.
Wednesday – Fuel Run
The core Koenigsegg contingent was unloaded on Tuesday out front of our hotel in Santa Monica. Pedestrians stopped on Ocean Avenue to take pictures and ask questions about these strange, exotic cars they could see being unloaded from multiple flat-bed trucks.
We left Santa Monica on Wednesday morning….
…and drove to neighbouring Malibu for the start of the Fuel Run.
The Fuel Run is organised by the same team that do the annual Goldrush Rally. It’s a chance for owners of exotic cars to gather together and enjoy a scenic drive together at a reasonable, law-abiding pace. OK, maybe the law-abiding pace bit is me being a bit optimistic. But they definitely enjoy the drive.
There were 100 participants in the Fuel Run this year, and seven of our Koenigsegg fleet were at the starting line exhibition: both CCX Ghost cars, CCXRS, the Agera RS Draken, Agera RS in battleship grey, Agera RS1 and Regera.
For outstanding shots (like the one below) from this leg of the tour, visit Ted7
Most of the Koenigseggs only took part in the first section of the run, a route that headed inland to LA’s infamous canyon roads, including Mulholland Hwy. The route ran for around 100 miles, ending just north-west of Santa Barbara, where most of the Koenigseggs were loaded into trailers for the next 300 miles up to Monterey.
Youtuber DailyDrivenExotics got some wonderful moving footage of the Koenigsegg fleet on this first leg of the tour. It’s an unusual angle for a car-vlogger and definitely worth a look.
Thursday – Photo/Media Day
Thursday was a social day for our customers, with a short trip along sections of 17-Mile Drive and lunch at Spanish Bay.
Following the afternoon drive, Christian headed back to our base at Carmel Valley Ranch for some media commitments, both film and print.
Look out for a written article about the beginnings of Koenigsegg on one of our favourite websites – Petrolicious – coming soon!
Friday: The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering and Exotics at Cannery Row
The Quail is our main event at Monterey every year. It’s a chance for us to interact with both current and future customers in a beautiful, relaxed environment.
The Quail was a little different for us, this year. In past years, we’ve used it as a major marketing event, showing off our latest cars to potential customers because the models that we’re showing are usually available for sale.
That wasn’t the case this year. The Agera RS has been sold out for over 18 months now and we had the pleasure of announcing that the Regera was sold out two months ago, in June 2017.
With those circumstances in mind, we decided to use our customers’ interest in bringing their cars to Monterey this year as an opportunity for a rare gathering of Koenigseggs in large numbers.
We planned on having as many as 7 Koenigseggs on display at The Quail. It was a wonderful surprise to turn up on Friday morning and see 10 cars on display at the Koenigsegg stand. Our planned showing included:
- Agera RS
- Agera RS ‘Draken’
- Agera RS1
- Agera RSR
- CCX ‘Ghost’
Those cars were joined by:
- CCXR Trevita
- CCX Edition
- Agera R
It was a rare chance to show a large part of Koenigsegg’s history to the North American market. If we’d had a first-generation car on show (CC8S or CCR), the display would have been very close to complete, in historical terms.
The fleet left The Quail a little early so as to make it to Exotics on Cannery Row, the event mentioned at the opening of this article.
Here’s a look at all the cars on display there and a little of the crowd.
Saturday – Drive Day
Saturday saw light duties for most of the Koenigsegg crew, though a number of our party got together with some of our Japanese connections.
One of our Japanese customers was kind enough to bring his Agera RSR to Monterey for Car Week so it seemed only fitting that we honour his efforts with some time spent around the table and on the road.
Car-spotter and vlogger, Stradman, tracked down the Koenigsegg fleet on Thursday and got a ride in the Agera R as a reward.
Sunday – Laguna Seca
We had an invitation, thanks to Michelin, to attend a lunch and drive a few parade laps at the famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Around half our fleet attended, entertaining the crowd at the Michelin stand.
Laguna Seca hosts the Rolex Classics races during Monterey Car Week and there was plenty of fantastic metal on display.
At the end of the day, the fleet got to drive a couple of parade laps around the circuit. Sadly, it was behind a pace car whose driver took his role perhaps a little too seriously. On a good note, however, it meant all the cars returned to the paddock completely intact.
Monterey Car Week 2017 will go down in our corporate memory as an absolutely amazing event. Free from the usual ‘burden’ of having to promote our cars with the purpose of selling, we were able to enjoy the experience as a gathering of our US-based customer family. It was a wonderful thing.
We are, as always, indebted to those customers who supported our event with their energy and their time. And of course, we owe plenty to our factory staff, many of whom clocked long hours to get several of these cars ready for the big show.
To all who came out to Monterey to see our cars, whether for the first time or the fiftieth time – we appreciate your enthusiasm, your positivity, and your energy. We hope you enjoyed the show!