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Concours d'Lemons 2021

Why The Concours d’Lemons Is One Event You Have To See

Photography by Kristina Cilia

Monterey Car Week 2021 is already almost 3 weeks gone, and there were some amazing events and showcases all across the county. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and the Quail Auction are just three events that celebrate the greatest classic cars, new cars, and all forms of automotive excellence. It is also, unfortunately, a playground only for those with deep pockets.

Why we don’t really have anything against the wealthier individuals that enjoy cars, there was one event during Monterey Car Week that didn’t appear on any official calendar, wasn’t listed in the official Car Week guide, and was held an entire county away in Seaside, California. This event was for the common person with shallow pockets, with bills to pay and wants to take part in events with his or her car as it stands.

Welcome, then, to the Concours d’Lemons!

What Is It?

The Concours d’Lemons is what happens when the people behind the 24 Hours of LeMons junker endurance race decide to also hold a car show. It is a celebration of the rusty, the weird, the truly abominable, and pretty much anything that is as far from an elegant car as possible.

Have a rusty old VW Kombi (aka the VW Bus)? Bring it down!

A rusty old VW Kombi

Halfway through installing a body kit on your hunk of junk? Bring it down as well!

1995 Plymouth Neon Roadster
1995 Plymouth Neon Roadster

That’s the real beauty about the Concours d’Lemons. It doesn’t matter what you have, as long as it’s something weird, wonky, rusty, or just absolutely regular, it’s welcome. You’ll find old British MG roadsters next to Ford Pintos, and a complete “what the hell is that?” car next to something that looks like it came out of the 1970s with its shirt ripped and one hell of a hangover.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this… well, we were going to say car, but it looks like it needs a bit more duct tape to hold it together.

Datsun Station Wagon
Datsun stationwagon

And the hangover…

Interior of the Datsun station wagon

This isn’t to say that some actual worthwhile cars, that would be welcome at a lower-price-of-entry Concours d’Elegance, aren’t present. For example, this lovely 1968 Riley Elf Mk III:

1968 Riley Elf

Sure, it has a tiny bit of rust around the headlights and yes, the paint doesn’t exactly match, but it’s an example of a car that is as welcome at the Concours d’Lemons as any other.

What Kind Of Classes Are There?

The answer to that seems to be somewhere between “how many do you want” and “okay, that’s too many.” There are also a wide variety of prizes for all the classes, with some actual decently large name sponsors taking part like Hagerty and Griot’s Garage.

Some of these classes include Rust-Belt American Junk, with sub-categories of Ford, GM, Mopar, and Other, as well as Der Self-Satisfiedkrauttenwagen German car class. However, one of our favorites is Kommunist Kars, which has the exceptional award of “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Medal for Most Glorious Achievement in Transportative Advancement for Use Upon Billiard-Smooth Highways as Are Uniformly to Be Found Inside Workers’ Paradise.” That is word-for-word from the Concours d’Lemons website!

It is also rumored that bribes are accepted, and our intrepid cameraperson that attended the 2021 edition that ran during Monterey Car Week was able to actually provide evidence as such:

An unopened beer can sitting on a car frame

So, Literally Any Car?

Yep, and it doesn’t even have to be road legal!

A custom made 1955 VW contraption

What The Hell Is That?

We don’t know. But the beer and the whiskey were labelled “Bribe,” so maybe we shouldn’t ask. Although there is a “WTF?!?? In Show” award, so maybe the… car?… was going for it

Okay. So This Happens Only During Monterey Car Week?

Nope! This wonderful event is held anywhere between 3 to 4 times per year, depending on who accepts the bribes under the table to actually host the event. Of course, there is also the Concours d’Lemons that takes place during the 24 Hours of LeMons, of which the next full 24 hour race is going to be held next weekend at the High Plains Raceway in Deer Trail, Colorado!

Of course, the biggest show happens during Monterey Car Week. Where else would you get a good row of absolutely normal British roadsters?

British lemons lineup

Or a fine example of a supercharged 1980s Toyota MR2 Mk I?

A grey 1980s Toyota MR2 Mk I

So What Is It Really All About?

The whole thing is meant to be a jab in the eye at the wealthy, and to be honest, we like it even more than the actual Concours d’Elegance held at Pebble Beach. There’s just something so refreshing about being able to wander around a Concours in a Beavis and Butthead shirt instead of having to buy one of those silly straw hats with the black band around them, as well as get out your sports coat…

Attendees at the 2021 concours d'lemons

We won’t go so far as to say that it’s low-brow fun. Seeing as there are cars involved, despite the rust, it’s more middle-brow than anything, but the whole point of it is just to have fun. Hell, we bet one judge was chosen on the strength of his pith helmet and mustache alone!

Attendees taking photos at the 2021 concours d'lemons

And it seems another judge took a left instead of a right to get to the correct Concours event…

Attendees chatting at the 2021 concours d'lemons

It ties in perfectly with the whole reason that the 24 Hours of LeMons exists, and is a perfect companion celebration next to it. As the motto for the 24 Hours goes, “racing shouldn’t just be for rich idiots, it should be for all idiots.” If that doesn’t define the Concours d’Lemons perfectly, we don’t know what would. So, we just agree with the stickers that almost all the cars were bearing…

Power to the sour decal on side window of a car

Power to the sour!

Gallery Of Extra Lemons