I’ve been attending the Werks Reunion at Monterey every year since I’ve owned a Porsche. In the beginning, I was always just a spectator as my Boxster was a driver’s car and no where near show condition. I was always enamored with the event because there were so many Porsches in one place. Rare Porsches, cars you just don’t see every day… or ever in some cases. The event was big, fun, and full of excitement.
When I got my 996, I became a lot more interested in showing my car. I finally had a Porsche that was in great condition and worthy of being on the field. In 2017, I entered the Werks Reunion to display my car and have it judged. I had no idea if I would win any award, but I also didn’t care if I won or not—that’s not why I entered. I really wanted the experience. That experience turned out to be not so good as it was clear the judges weren’t abiding by their own rules, clearly had a bias against certain models, and didn’t seem to know much about some of the cars they were judging. There were many other things that contributed to the bad experience that year, but that’s a whole other story you can read here in my post from 2017.
Something I noticed then was that the really rare cars, the special cars, the truly unique, one-of-a-kind, limited, obscure, and unusual Porsches just weren’t there. Maybe one or two, but that was about it. The same holds true for 2018 and 2019; at that point pretty much nothing “special” was there. It was obvious that cars like that were really starting to become scarce at Werks in Monterey. You’d think at a Porsche gathering in Monterey during Car Week that you would see some of the most amazing, rare, and unique cars to ever come out of Stuttgart. But you don’t, at least not at Werks Reunion.
2020, of course, was a bust as the entirety of Car Week was canceled due to the pandemic, but this year, 2021, it was back. This year I decided to show my car in the “corral” along with many other Porsches. This should have been a fun experience. The night before I spent a couple of hours detailing and cleaning the car so it would be presentable. It takes me about an hour and 10 minutes to drive from my house to the venue in Monterey. Traffic was light so I arrived a little quicker than anticipated. This is where everything started falling apart.
Not true, actually, it fell apart a little before this. Since I had corral parking, I was supposed to have been mailed a packet with a tag to hang from my rearview mirror so I could be easily identified and pointed in the right direction. That never arrived. I emailed the event planner to let them know, but never received a response. I got in line at 9:45 AM, and it was very long (but that’s to be expected at events like this). What wasn’t expected was I didn’t actually get to the driveway to enter the field until 11:20. It took me longer to wait in line than it did for me to drive to Monterey.
When I did enter that driveway, I wanted to make sure I was in the right place. I told them I was was supposed to be in the corral, thus told to go to the next driveway. Fortunately, that wasn’t but a few feet away, but I had just spent an hour and a half in line, I didn’t want to lose my place by getting wrong information (that has happened before). I got to the next driveway, told the attendant I was there for corral parking and she asked where my tag was. I told her I didn’t get it, so I gave her my name and she couldn’t find me on the list. I was about to show her my receipt, but fortunately she found me on the list after a second look and let me in.
What else wasn’t expected was how everyone entering the corral parking had to drive on a dirt path covered with bark and mulch. This resulted in covering our cars with dirt and dust. Not just a little, but a full blanket of dirt and dust. Cars that almost everyone who entered had spent the day before detailing and cleaning now looked like they had been sitting in the desert for a week. You can actually see the coat of dust on the cars in the picture at the top of this post. It goes without saying that every single person there was extraordinarily unhappy with this development. I sprayed my car down and wiped it clean, took about 20 minutes, but it looked great afterwards, except for the tires as I didn’t bring tire dressing. So I had brown tires the rest of the day (which you can see in the picture above).
After that, I walked on the grounds to see the cars and pickup my pre-ordered participant shirt. I usually wear a size XL in shirts, so that’s what I ordered. I figured they would be the same brand of shirts they had used in the years prior, but they weren’t. They switched brands, and when I got mine I went to try it on and the shirt fit like a dress. It was a typical “polo” style shirt, but the shoulders drooped down about three inches too far, the short sleeves extended just past my elbows, and the shirt tail hung to about the middle of my thighs. I went back to see if I could exchange it, but the best they offered was a refund, so I took that.
Speaking of shirts, usually at any car event there’s always some fun souvenirs, and Werks tends to have some of the best in the business. Apart from the usual choice of T-Shirts, ball caps, and Posters, Werks typically has grill badges, key-rings, pins, and all sorts of PCA and Werks merchandise. This year was rather disappointing, to say the least. There was one T-Shirt, and that shared the same design as the poster, which was also available. One T-Shirt and one poster, that was the only merchandise available to commemorate Werks Reunion this year.
To add to the disappointment and frustration, the show was tiny. There weren’t many cars on display at all, at least compared to other years and other shows. There was nothing special there either. Where’s a Porsche 904? How about a 959 or a Carrera GT? Perhaps some cars with racing heritage like a 935 or 917? What about something crazy and fun like the Porsche tractors? Prototypes? Nothing. There was nothing like this at the show at all. Just 400 Porsche 911s, 50 Porsche 356s, and a smattering of 914s, 928s, Caymans, Boxsters, and a few SUVs. These are the kind of cars I see every day just driving around the streets of San Jose.
Don’t misunderstand, the cars that were there were beautiful, cool, awesome, and great to see. But, they weren’t anything unusual, rare, unique, or different—and you can only look at so many stock and/or modified 911s before they all start looking the same. When attending car shows during Car Week in Monterey, you expect to see the finest cars the world has to offer, you expect to be wowed, but that’s not what happens at Werks Reunion, and it’s been on the decline since 2017 (if not earlier).
To contrast the Werks Reunion, I attended Concorso Italiano the next day, which was held at the exact same venue. I attended as a spectator (since I don’t own an Italian car yet) and the entrance to the spectator parking was the same as the entrance for the corral parking at Werks. However, Concorso had a truck spray the dirt, bark, and mulch path with water. The result? Almost zero dust. I drove my car in, parked, and got out all with a wait of about 10 minutes—and didn’t have to clean my car as it was still clean after wiping it down the day before. Except for my brown tires that served as a grim reminder of yesterday’s event. Concorso was also about five times the size of Werks, and there were some extremely rare, obscure, unique, and very special cars in attendance. Plus, great spreads from many of the participants—Italians know how to throw a car show!
I still love Porsche, I still love looking at Porsches and talking with the people that own them. The PCA is a good organization, and my local chapter (LPR) is a lot of fun and full of great people. I will always own a Porsche. But I’m done with Werks in Monterey. It doesn’t attract the right cars, I can go to a local cars and coffee any weekend and see the same cars there. The show is small, and the planning is the worst I’ve seen at any car show. They’re incredibly disorganized, and that’s not exclusive to this year. It just feels like the organizers of Werks Monterey put as little effort into it as possible, as if they didn’t care. Porsche, Porsche owners, and Porsche enthusiasts deserve better.
Werks isn’t the only event going on that day, I might check out Legends of the Autobahn next year. Or the Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca, or even the Quail (which is by far the most prestigious event of the week; that’s where you will find the truly special, rare, and unique cars). All those events take place the same day as Werks Reunion, and they all have much more to offer.