When we mention car shows, you probably think of massive convention centers in cities like New York, LA, Tokyo, and Paris, full of the newest cars, trucks, and SUVs from the world’s most prominent manufacturers. Concept cars and current models share the stage with smoke machines and laser light shows pumping up the media and public for the latest automotive reveal.
If you happen to be in the market for a new car, a major car show can be an excellent place to see everything under one roof. What if you’re not shopping for a new car? What if you happen to be an enthusiast who loves the automobile and wants an experience beyond what Honda, Toyota, and Ford can offer you? Don’t worry, there are plenty of exceptional car shows that can feed your passion for everything automotive. Here are eight car shows that you should attend at least once in your life.
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance – Amelia Island, Florida
Taking place every year in March at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is one of the most prestigious car shows in the world. The Concours features rare and historically significant vehicles, all vying for awards. You’ll see everything from pre-war Bugattis to race-winning Porsches to classic muscle cars.
The four-day event also features an auction hosted by RM Sotheby’s. There is also a Cars & Caffeine meet-up that’s open to anyone who wants to show off their car.
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este – Lake Como, Italy
Held on the shores of the iconic Lake Como in Italy, the Villa d’Este Concours is one, if not the most important car show in the world. The show itself dates back to 1929 and features the rarest, most beautiful, and most significant antique cars and vintage race cars in the world.
In recent years, the show has also hosted high-end manufacturer reveals. It has been the scene for Rolls-Royce to debut the Boattail and for Bugatti to showcase the La Voiture Noire. This is a big-money car show but is approachable to every car enthusiast. All that’s required to attend is a love of the automobile and a passion for beautiful cars.
Goodwood Festival of Speed – West Sussex, England
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the biggest automotive events in the world. Held at the famous Goodwood House in England, the multi-day event sees attendance figures of around 150,000 people.
The most famous part of the event is the hillclimb. A 1.16-mile sprint up the hill that features every type of car, from supercars to vintage race cars to modern F1 machines. If you’re a fan of motorsport, this is one of the best shows to attend. Current and former F1 drivers, IndyCar drivers, NASCAR drivers, and sports car drivers attend and compete in the hillclimb and are accessible to fans for autographs.
A recent addition to the festival is a rally course, in which current and former rally cars compete for the best time.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – Monterey, California
The only concours that can rival the Villa d’Este concours is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The awards handed out to the winners are the most coveted in the world of classic cars.
The show is held at the end of Monterey Car Week at the Pebble Beach golf course in Monterey, California. The cars are divided into different classes that all compete for awards in their respective category and the best of show award. Previous winners of the prestigious best of show award are a 1931 Bentley 8 Liter Tourer and an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Berlinetta.
RADwood – Various locations
If bodacious rides from the 1980s and 1990s are your jam, then RADwood is for you. The car show is centered around ‘80s and ‘90s vehicles with nothing off limits as long as it was made during those two decades.
RADwood shows happen year-round in several locations across the country. It brings together a unique set of enthusiasts who dress in period clothing to match their cars. At any given RADwood, you’re likely to see everything from Lamborghini and Ferrari supercars to common family movers like Toyotas and minivans. RADwood also boasts one of the most fun atmospheres of any car show and is centered around a shared love of cars and car culture.
SEMA – Las Vegas, Nevada
SEMA, which stands for Special Equipment Manufacturers Association, is an annual trade show held in Las Vegas every year. If your enthusiasm for cars veers toward the side of customization, tuning, and modifying, then SEMA is the place to be.
The SEMA show focuses on customs parts and equipment for cars and trucks. There is also has a formidable custom car display. Manufacturers are often involved and use independent tuning shops to create some of the most extreme custom cars in the world. Hot rodders are also well represented and often feature amazing customs like the Ringbrothers’ Hellephant powered AMC Javelin.
Woodward Dream Cruise – Detroit, Michigan
The Woodward Dream Cruise is a car show for those that love to drive and love cruising. Founded in 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, the Dream Cruise is now the world’s largest single-day automotive event. It regularly attracts over 1.5 million people and over 400,000 classic cars.
The cruise itself happens on Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway. Classic American cars and muscle cars are the focus, and the event is free to participate in and attend. The Woodward Dream Cruise is an event to celebrate the automobile in the heart of Motor City.
Your Local Cars & Coffee – Wherever you live
The single best car show to attend is likely to be your local Cars & Coffee meet-up. The idea behind Cars & Coffee is to create an automotive event regularly that everyone can participate in. You don’t have to have a supercar to attend. All you need is a love of cars and a desire to be around like-minded people.
You will encounter people in your neighborhood who share your passion and have incredible stories about their cars. Expect everything from Ferraris to Honda Civics parked next to each other. The common theme is an appreciation for the car. At a Cars & Coffee event, it doesn’t matter what you’re interested in, as long as you are interested.
If you happen to be looking for a more unique and engaging experience than a traditional auto show, check out some of these great events. Each one will provide you with an incredible experience and allow you to share your passion with people just like you.