Guest contributor: Jim Bauer on the southern California car scene
It’s pretty obvious to most “carphiles” that when it comes to car culture, southern California is the holy land. It’s also among the worst places ever to drive- quite a conundrum. That means if you’re into cars, you must get up early before the highways are full, and to get to the amazing local roads before anyone else gets up.
It’s a small price to pay for cars that don’t rust, almost 365 days of beautiful driving weather in a year, and basically a representation of every kind of car that has ever been desired. Vintage cars, classics, exotics, hot rods, supercars, lowriders, sports cars. Hell– even dune buggies, jacked-up trucks, donks, VIPs, and everything in between.
The best thing about southern California, though, must be the camaraderie. You will surely find a club or group or a bunch of dudes in a parking lot willing to show you their car and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about that model or that particular example.
If you were so inclined, you could probably find a meeting place for gearheads of some sort every day of the week. If you were so inclined, you could probably even get a few of them to drive around with you.
This is a quick recap of some of the fun things I got to attend last year.
Cars and Coffee, Irvine
Every Saturday in a top secret Mazda testing facility, a bunch of guys meet up with every kind of wild car you can imagine.
This is a regular at Cars and Coffee- a rally-inspired Datsun Z. Custom rally hood, black wrinkle paint, and a patina that says this car is driven the way it should be driven.
If you have a mint 356 at Christmastime, you have to dress it up in the period-correct skis and X-mas deco. Think he takes this to Big Bear?
This 535 Alpina replica is owned by a guy who has the real deal E28 Alpina and an E21 Alpina. What better to drive as a daily? It’s said to perform better than the real one- in any event, it looks amazing.
I don’t know anything about this car, except that it looks beautiful in every way.
Once a year, the Porsche guys like to get together in Ventura for the German Autofest. This is a great show because you can usually find a crew to run up there with, which is how I like to get there. A bunch of Stuttgart’s finest winding through the countryside for a few hours- doesn’t get much better.
This guy was unrestored. The factory Jade Green is near-perfect and original. It has made me fall in love with this rare color. The real kind of barn find.
This car was recently finished for this show. The paint was done by the owner, and the non-original, personal choices make it a true hot rod. Media-blasted wheels and trim, aggro height, and all the racey stripeys. Let’s not forget the center fill fuel in the hood.
During your drive up to Ventura from LA, you have to eat breakfast. Why not have it on an airstrip? H1 headlights vs Sugar Scoops. Impact Bumpers vs IROC fiberglass. And damn, that yellow one is pretty
(Jim’s baby; look for something on it in the future- Ed.)
Another representation of a hot rod. Do what you want, purists be damned. This real 911S has widened steel wheels, Talbot mirrors, and two-tone bumpers. The dual antennas were a factory option.
Japanese Classic Car Show
I have to admit, I am a new fan of vintage Japanese cars. My dad had a 240Z and my mom had a 510 wagon, but being from New York they were rusted-out and junk by the time I was five. I never saw one again until I moved to LA. I’m back on the wagon (or off, whichever it is).
I like the unrestored patina of a race car. No idea if it’s real but it damn sure looks it. Awesome.
I have never even seen anything like this in my life. I had to ask my buddy what the hell it was: a Mazda RX-3. Only in Socal (or Japan).
This Z is the epitome of what’s “hot right now.” Rat rod? Check. Slammed? Check. Wide black wheels? Check. Hella flush? Check. Homegrown? Check. You know why it’s hot right now? Because it’s great.
Orange- maybe the best color ever. Flares, wide black Watanabe wheels. Clean as a whistle. Perfection.
New Year’s Tour
I have to admit, I have only really shown pictures of cars parked- I have a hard time shooting photos while driving. At least in this segment of parked cars, the cars were driven hard right before or right after the photos were taken.
The Los Angeles driving day of the year is New Year’s day (I hope I don’t blow up the spot by saying that). If you want to see cool cars whose owners are not afraid to drive them, go out on New Year’s day.
One of the best Porsche colors ever- Slate Grey. Pretty much stock-looking 911 early body or “longhood,” and loving it.
Short wheelbase, 911R-inspired hot rod, media-blasted wheels, extended lugs, cool stripes. The owner of this made two of these and ended up selling this one. I can’t wait to see the one he kept!
You can’t go out on a New Year’s drive and not mention this- the 914-6 Evil Cockroach. 3.0 motor, all the go-fast goodies, mild flares. This will beat you, no matter what.
I didn’t want you to think this drive was Porsche-exclusive. Ariel Atoms, BMWs, Minis, Alfas, MGs, Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Miatas, Evos, Lamborghinis, and even Datsuns.
Again- only in Socal.