“Ah, Monterey—where the Ferraris are as common as the people who drive them.” That was actually a line from my friend George Goad about Monaco, but I like to drop it into conversations during Monterey week, although rarely within earshot of the tifosi, because the other Italian word I know is vendetta. But this is a week of gold chains and fat cigars. (I was going to say fine cigars, but I think that’s an oxymoron; I have come to the conclusion that anybody who smokes a cigar upwind is a thoughtless goon, and this week there are plenty of those on the Monterey Peninsula.)

This is a week of wretched, retching excess, with pitchers of watery Margaritas at Baja Cantina, of Bubba Burgers at the track, of barbequed lamb chops at the La Jolla Independent space in the vintage-race paddock, where Carl Nelson, Ben Thongsai, and the LJI gang turn wrenches on Mark Francis’ Elva/BMW. I think the food that these hombres haul to the track in the race trailer weighs more than the car.

Champagne and million-dollar cars on the lawn: Must be Monterey.

Our BMW CCA presence during Monterey’s Car Week has become a national event of some renown, with its pinnacle the 100th-anniversary celebration we held last year, saluting a hundred years of the marque with Legends Of The Autobahn, the BMW CCA Festorics corral at the vintage-car races, and our week-long Oktoberfest celebration in the same venue on the following week. Oog: sensory overload!

This week’s events, a year after the madness of 2016, were a refreshing antidote. Of course, attendance was down—and as far as I’m concerned, that was a good thing. Instead of too many BMWs lined up cheek to muzzle as far as the eye could see, there were arrangements of cars at Legends, rational groups of models that let you compare the work of individual owners, yes, but also let you get some sense of the chronological development of the marque. I enjoyed strolling along a seawall of 2002s, then ambling through a valley of various models to arrive at a counterfacing armada of E9 coupes.

I have always loved those coupes—who hasn’t?—and not just because my first BMW was a 1972 3.0CS. We needn’t go maundering off into history, but we should remember that our Monterey parties all began with Coupefest at Laguna Seca, which morphed into the Festorics corral we still enjoy today; Legends began as the Central Cal Chapter’s clean-car contest, held on the grass outside Concorso Italiano. While the tifosi sipped grappa and Asti Spumante inside, the Central Cal volunteers organized parking for the event—and staged their own show. I doubt whether anyone dreamed that this chapter show-’n’-shine affair would grow into a three-German-marque extravaganza that would gain fame as the best spectator bargain of the week.

This year the weather was spectacular: three days of brilliant sunshine after a week of dreary fog. Such is the beauty of Monterey, where we bundle up to stage cars at Legends and shed our clothes as the morning mist resolves itself into a dew.

The sun breaks through over the Legends field.

Michelin was there in force again as the presenting sponsor of Legends Of The Autobahn, and this year they displayed three spectacular versions of Mercedes’ recent ferocious SL roadsters, but my own interests were piqued even more by the Griot’s Garage E30 wagon. This slick red wagon is tricked out as a hot-rodder’s dream, running a bodacious BMW V8 engine in place of its puny original, and shiny? Oh my lord. It’s obviously meant to make you think, Hey, maybe if I apply myself diligently with some o’ that Griot’s paste, my car will look like that, too! Somehow I don’t think it’s quite that simple.

The perfect wagon: Griot’s products filling the back, a V8 filling the front.

At the track, we were there to celebrate the retirement of Ludwig Willisch, who has stepped down as the head of BMW of North America. My favorite BMW-related movie is The Last Run, and the Monterey race was a perfect last run for Willisch in the #25 3.0CSL. He had company in two other historic race cars owned by BMW NA: Tom Plucinsky drove the M1 Procar—rather fiercely, I must say, dicing with a Porsche 935 the whole way—while the orange Alpina 2002 was driven by none other than the head of design for the entire BMW Group, Adrian van Hooydonk.

Ludwig Willisch sets out on his last run in the 3.0CSL.

Tom Plucinsky drove the mighty M1 Procar.

Who knew BMW’s head of design was a racer, too?!

Van Hooydonk was also on hand at another Monterey event, the U.S. debut of the 8 Series Concept that first appeared at Villa d’Este and the premiere of the third-generation Z4—again, in concept form. This particular press event was set for the sacred Eighteenth Green of Pebble Beach—a few days before they packed the lawn with a bunch of older cars, of course—and that began to give me an idea.

The Z4 Concept and the shark-toothed 8 Series Concept take center stage at Pebble Beach.

I knew that BMW wanted to arrange their new concepts with their predecessors, a line of Z cars on one side of the new Z4, a line of 8 Series generations on the other. Well, they rejected my lovely Z4 M roadster—some nonsense about the hot-rod pinstriping and the ghost flames over the Motorsport stripes—because they preferred, you know, stock, staid examples. And since the company owns a perfect Z3, and Z4s from the E85 and E89 generation, I looked to the other side of the array, where they had arranged for a lovely white 850CSi and a new i8.

But they would need a Z8 on rather short notice.

I will confess that Nancy Drew, my current obsession, has more miles than most, and her sun-fried interior could use some work; there’s that split seam in the driver’s seat, for instance. But come on; you need a Z8, don’t you? And nobody will be looking all that close anyway, because they’ll all be drooling on the flat-gold Z4 Concept or that shark-toothed Eighter Alligator. And gee, I don’t think there’s another Z8 within a thousand miles. (Okay, the four other Z8s in various colors that were in Monterey somehow slipped my mind for a moment.)

“Don’t worry about that split in the seat,” I said. “No problem—I’ve got it covered.” And sure enough, I did have it covered—literally. Remember those poseur-nerd driving gloves that I wear so my sweaty palms won’t rot away the leather of the steering wheel? Well, guess what: They just happen to be the perfect size to nonchalantly camouflage such minor imperfections.

Blue-trimmed black driving gloves go perfectly with Nancy Drew’s interior. Split seam? What split seam?

Nancy Drew makes the big time.

Ah, yes, Monterey. Have I been to Monterey? Why, yes, my man, I have: I showed a car at Pebble Beach!—Satch Carlson