SEASIDE – Sam Halsted affectionately calls his collection of car memorabilia a hobby gone mad, something he has to pawn off in parts to make room for another indulgence. Fortunately, like-minded folk at Tuesday’s Automobilia Monterey were glad to snag a sample of the obsession.

Back for its 18th year, the annual showcase of automotive collectibles – vintage, eclectic and the only event of its kind during Monterey Classic Car Week – returned to the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay this week for the first time since pausing operations for the pandemic. With 28 booths featuring everything from Halsted’s admittedly saturated stack of automobile sales literature to factory vehicle tool kits, the expo was a nostalgic ode to car mania sure to satisfy anyone’s fix for auto antiquity.

“If I want to stay married, I have to get rid of all my excess stuff,” Halsted quipped. “(The collection) started when I was 13, but now it’s busting all over the place. …That’s why I come here.”

The 18th annual Automobilia Monterey, the largest international vintage automotive collectibles show in the U.S., returned to Monterey County from Monday Aug.15 - Wednesday Aug. 17 (Molly Gibbs - Monterey Herald).The 18th annual Automobilia Monterey, the largest international vintage automotive collectibles show in the U.S., returned to Monterey County from Monday Aug.15 – Wednesday Aug. 17 (Molly Gibbs – Monterey Herald).

Bringing only a sample of his vast assortment of automobilia, Halsted’s table Tuesday included binders of car-themed postcards, original sales brochures and even a media information packet for a Porsche event dating back two decades. Though open to add any eye-catching, auto-related item to his reserve, Halsted said he primarily collects paper souvenirs – in part to commemorate old car illustrations rarely seen in modern advertising but also as a way to consolidate space.

Across the aisle, 2-D testaments to auto history continued with Concours Collectibles, where Dave Fearnley and Cherie McEntire sold limited-edition prints from automotive artist David Snyder. Hailing from Ontario, Canada, this year marked the pair’s first visit to Automobilia Monterey as more than spectators. Fearnley had made the cross-border trip to Classic Car Week several times before as a regular car buff, he explained, but a burgeoning print sale operation up north motivated him to expand clientele.

Prints for purchase Tuesday started at around $95 and capped at $2,000, depending on how rare the selection. As for subject matter, scenes illustrated were as varied as their cost, capturing car dealership parking lots, automobile shows from the 1950s and even race cars rounding the corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“(Cars) are moving pieces of art… and (this artist) has really captured the essence of them in a lot of the pictures,” Fearnley explained, thumbing through images.

“One of my favorite things about what these prints do is they bring nostalgia back to you,” McEntire added. “(People) will be looking at them and they’ll remember when their dad had this or their grandpa had that. It brings this beautiful memory back, and I love that.”

Elsewhere in the ballroom, for those whose nostalgia motivated not just the recollection but a restoration of classic cars, Ferrari Literature boasted authentic versions of car minutia most owners nowadays leave and forget about in their glove compartments.

Vintage Motorbooks displayed a variety of automobile books, manuals, brochures and periodicals (Molly Gibbs - Monterey Herald).Vintage Motorbooks displayed a variety of automobile books, manuals, brochures and periodicals (Molly Gibbs – Monterey Herald).

Offering original car manuals, pouch sets, shop and technical manuals and warranty books, Ferrari Literature celebrated the more mundane but still essential aspects to bringing an old car back to its prime condition.

“A complete car is a more valuable car,” said owner Andrew Herrala, noting that his company has often helped round out restorations for exhibitors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. “You want (a car) to be as authentic as it was when it left the factory, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do to benefit the hobby. We want your car to be as good as it can be. …If you don’t have the books and the tools, it’s not complete.”

Offering a similar sentiment as he perused  the expo, attendee Tommy Yang said the drive to compile more than just a vehicle alone is a quality inherent to all auto enthusiasts – and what makes an event like Automobilia Monterey the “mecca for any car person.”

“People dream their whole lives to have a gathering like this that they can actually go to every year,” he said. “It’s a dream to collect and meet and talk about this stuff. …It’s a world-class event.”

Automobilia Monterey will continue through Wednesday at the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay in Seaside,  1441 Canyon Del Rey Blvd, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to https://www.automobiliamonterey.com/.

Tess Kenny -- Monterey HeraldTess Kenny — Monterey Herald