What are the best shows, rallies and auctions in the USA? There are the AutoClassics picks of the best of the best American events
The United States is a big country. As a result, there are hundreds of classic car events – everything from week-long multi-event spectacles to three-day marque-focused shows, vintage races and rallies.
Here is our top 10. Not all are the most exclusive events, or the most expensive, but they are what we consider to be the best of the best.
Arizona Auction Week, January 15-21, Phoenix, Arizona
Let’s start with the biggest auction week of the year. In January, the Phoenix area hosts seven major sales. Thousands of collector cars go under the hammer, with everything from entry-level models such as MGBs, Mustangs and Corvettes, to the very top-tier pre and post-war sports, racing and full classic automobiles.
Barrett-Jackson is the anchor tenant of the week, offering as many as 2000 collector cars in an amazing spectacle that has to be seen to be believed, but also in Phoenix are RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company, Bonhams, Russo and Steele, Worldwide and Silver.
Whatever car you might be shopping for, chances are it’ll be available at one of these auctions, and record sales are routinely achieved. Just be sure not to spend your time at any one auction; instead, schedule your time appropriately, as there is so much to see at each event.
Cavallino Classic, January 24-28, Palm Beach, Florida
If you’re a big fan of the models from Maranello, you simply must attend Cavallino at least once in your life. It’s a celebration of everything Ferrari, from the marque’s latest offerings to the historic sports and racing cars that made it the brand it is today.
The five-day event includes track days, vintage races, a swap meet with many vendors, and the Concorso d’Eleganza finale. It’s said that getting a coveted Platinum here is more difficult than gaining a top award at the Ferrari Nationals, while many car owners who seek entry to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance use the Cavallino as a gauge of whether their car is worthy of attendance.
Achieving a Cavallino Platinum can also add considerable value to a car, and as a result competition is fierce. If you want to see the best of the best Ferrari road and race cars, and hang out with other aficionados, the Cavallino Classic is just the ticket.
Find out more about the Cavallino Classic here.
Amelia Island Concours, March 7-11, Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island is the all-time top concours for many US car collectors. This has as much to do with the people who attend as it does with the automobiles on the show field. In addition, the
week-long Amelia Island event also features five auctions and test-drive experiences, plus seminars with historic automotive designers, racing drivers and other industry luminaries.
The event also includes a Saturday Cars and Coffee show, a gathering of vehicles that might not be quite concours level but are still very interesting. The weekend culminates on Sunday with the concours d’elegance, where some of the world’s finest cars gather to be seen and judged. There is a distinctive sports and racing-car slant to the Amelia Concours, which makes it the place to be in March.
Book your trip to Amelia Island Concours.
Copperstate 1000, April 7-11, Phoenix, Arizona
There are quite a few vintage rallies in the US, including the Colorado Grande and the nation’s top driving event, the California Mille. Yet in many ways the Copperstate 1000-mile rally is the best, thanks as much to the people who attend as to the scores of pre-1973 cars.
In fact, being able to attend in the first place is the hardest aspect of the Copperstate. Having a top-tier motor is no guarantee of acceptance, as the organisers work hard to create the best mix of great cars and great people. Humility helps quite a bit, as does knowing a regular attendee. That said, if you want to participate in one of the country’s greatest vintage rallies, the effort required will be well worth it.
Interested? Click here for the website.
The Race of Gentleman, June 8-10, Wildwood, New Jersey
The Race Of Gentleman – or TROG as it is known – celebrates the golden age of American hot rodding. The vehicles are limited to those that did or would have competed during the late 1940s and ’50s. Both competitors and spectators are asked to dress in period garb, and the effect is that of taking a time machine back to 1952. The event’s location only adds to the feeling of moving back in time, as the town of Wildwood looks to be perpetually stuck in the 1950s.
The highlight of this event, which also includes live bands, bonfires, and parties, are the two-day beach races. Vintage hot rods and motorcycles drag race on the sand to see which machines reign supreme. You’ll be simply blown away with the spectacle and the spirit of the event. Love hot rods? Don’t miss TROG.
For more information see the Race of Gentlemen website.
Bloomington Gold, June 21-23, Indianapolis, Indiana
Bloomington Gold is for the Corvette-head what Cavallino is for the Ferrari collector. It’s a celebration of everything ’Vette – the model’s history, engineering, beauty and significance to the world.
Each year the show brings together more than 1000 Corvettes and their owners, and features restoration seminars, driving events, historic presentations and parties. The entire proceedings are wrapped up with the judged certification show. This is not an event where cars are judged against one another for awards, but one where they’re rated for correctness.
Essentially, they’re graded on how they are now compared with when they left the factory, and the exact judging process means cars can lose points for being over restored. A top mark at Bloomington verifies that the vehicle is as good as it gets. If you have a special affection for the Corvette (or, actually, even if you don't), then Bloomington Gold is the single event you must attend in the US.
You want Corvettes? Plenty on the Bloomington Gold website.
Porsche Parade, July 8-14, Osage Beach, Missouri
Much like Cavallino and Bloomington Gold, the Porsche Parade is a celebration of all things from this single marque. The week-long event features swap meets, scores of vendors, shows, rallies, workshops and track time. It’s the place to be if you love the cars from Stuttgart, and its concours judging process is one of the most challenging in the entire classic car world.
The judges tend to be the foremost Porsche model experts in their classes, and you’ll always learn some new bit of Porsche minutiae. Receiving a top award here is a guarantee that your car is accurately restored or preserved in every way. The Porsche Parade is the place to celebrate – if not worship – these extraordinary machines.
Kohler at Road America, July 19-22, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
We think of this event as the way vintage racing used to be. Held at Road America, one of the US’s most storied and beautiful race tracks, it brings together some of the greatest cars ever to turn a wheel on a circuit. One of the highlights is the Friday concours, held on the streets of downtown Elkhart Lake.
This year’s racing will feature the 52nd anniversary of CAN-AM, a historic Trans Am feature and a Formula 5000 anniversary event. If you want to see what racing was really like back in the day, then the Kohler is a must-attend event.
The best information source for the Kohler is the Road America website.
Monterey Car Week, August 22-26, Monterey, California
Of all the events for classic sports car lovers, Monterey Car Week is the single must-attend event in the US, if not the world. The week features no fewer than six concours, including the Carmel Concours on the Avenue, Porsche Werks Reunion, Quail Motorsports Gathering, Legends of the Autobahn and Concours d’Lemons. It culminates in the fabled Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The week also hosts six auction companies with more than 1000 collector cars up for grabs, many of them the finest examples of the world’s most important models. This, as with the earlier Arizona auction week, sets the bar for prices, and markets can be seen changing in front of your eyes.
In addition, Monterey Car Week also features the Monterey Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This vintage race, much like the Pebble Beach Concours, features the finest track cars competing wheel to wheel. Essentially it’s a moving museum of historic race cars, with an all-access paddock where spectators can get up close and personal with the machines and their drivers.
In addition, there are auction tours, seminars plus club and manufacturer parties, starting off with the McCall's Jet Setter gathering. If you have yet to attend Monterey Car Week, you owe it to yourself to do so.
It's best to visit here for a full list of what goes on during Monterey week.
Fall Hershey, October 10-13, Hershey, Pennsylvania
The AACA Fall Meet in Hershey is an amazing spectacle. It’s one-part swap meet, one-part car-sales corral, one-part AACA show and one-part auction.
The swap meet alone can easily take two days to go through, and is overflowing with new and used parts for primarily American classics. It consists of literally miles of stalls selling everything from engines and bodywork to tyres and accessories.
Then car-sales corral is also immense. It circles the vendor area and features hundreds of motors from virtually every make and model available. Searching for a 1974 Lincoln with 25,000 original miles? It’s here. Want a vintage Porsche 911? It’s here as well. The prices range from full market value-plus to veritable steals.
Next is the RM Sotheby’s auction at the Hershey Lodge. This auction has a strong American slant, but import and sports cars are also on offer. Among the lots are always a large number of some of the world’s most significant classic cars. These tend to sell for top dollar, but there are usually a number of great buys as well. It is very much worth attending.
Finally, Fall Hershey closes with an AACA show, where you will see turn-of-the-19th-century automobiles through to cars of the 1970s, with everything in between. It is literally a history of the automobile on a single field.
If you adore American cars, and also love searching through swap meets, Hershey is for you. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes...
Plenty more here on the Hershey extravaganza.