Sunday, August 16, 2009

Concours d'Lemons: Nice First Attempt, But Disappointing

The show was fun and I'm sure to return next year, but it needs a lot of work. The biggest disappointment was the small number of cars displayed. There were almost more interesting cars in the spectator parking lot (including a red Alfetta sedan) than in the show itself. There were probably less than 75 cars on display. My favorites were: a talking Plymouth Sapporo, a 1958 Toyopet Crown, and a Citroen DS that was rear ended.

Here is some constructive criticism:
1. Marketing: I understand that this is the show's first year and that momentum and word-of-mouth advertising are important. But the small number of cars displayed is, again, disappointing. The Lemons website made it sound like there would be a lot more cars. With 39 different award categories, each entrant had about a 33 1/3 to 50% chance of winning.

2. Timing: a) Having it on the same weekend as a 24 Hours of Lemons race is unfortunate. The key demographic group that would go to the Concours event are all down in Buttonwillow. b) Having it on the same weekend as the Monterey shows is also a bad idea. People who are already in Monterey for the car shows are not going to go out of their way to Salinas on Saturday when they have closer events to attend. As for participants, it means spending an entire day sitting by your car in Salinas while you miss Laguna Seca, a number of auctions, and other car shows.

3. Location: a) With every hotel within a 50 mile radius of Monterey-Salinas tripling their normal room rate this week, it's hard for non-locals to make it out to Salinas. b) No offense to John Steinbeck and the denizens of Salinas, but it is an armpit. The only two restaurants worth lunching at are Gino's (closed for lunch on Saturdays) and Hullabaloo (permanently closed a few days before the Concours due to recession).

The admission price ($20) is fair and I suspect the organizers broke even on the event. I would definitely go again, but the venue and date (along with marketing) have to be seriously re-considered.

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