When I moved to LA from Chicago in late 2006, I stumbled upon the inception of “Cars and Coffee”.
It started out with a few enthusiasts hanging out at the parking lot where Gap, Starbucks, Banana Republic, and a few other shops were at the paradise community of Crystal Cove Beach in Corona del Mar, California. This is the heart of what we know of idyllic Orange County, which has a huge car culture.
In the months that followed, its attendance grew to insane levels and had an incomprehensible plethora of exotica as well as off the wall attendees like the original Batmobile. You had to show up before seven am to grab the best spots, but outside of the viewing area it was even more of a blast to check out the muscle cars, Italian and German vehicles from those late arrivals.
Word got out quickly and soon the manufacturers started rolling out their prototypes, and it seemed like each week a new Calloway Corvette of some type showed up. It felt like you had access to a private party and knew the secret handshake. As time went on, it soon outgrew the parking lot, and if I recall was finally killed off when neighbors in their multimillion-dollar properties got tired of Ferraris and Lambos racing each other on PCH at dusk.
We then got bumped to Irvine, where the Premier Auto Group, at the time Ford having in their portfolio Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and others, generously provided their parking lot to carry on the tradition. And again, it soon got crazy with every conceivable car and cycle fan displaying their pride and joy.
You would always see Freeman Thomas, J Mays and others here. This is where I met the owner of a silver 1972 Mercedes 280 SEL 4.5.
It was not a Pebble Beach car but a nice driver. Silver with black interior, factory Webasto crank sunroof and alloys. I indicated that when he was ever ready to sell it (it was not for sale) I would love to take it off his hands. “He was never going to sell it.” Understood, but if he ever changed his mind it would be well taken care of. Every month or two I would give him a call and asked how ‘my’ car was doing but got the same response. After a dozen or so of me pestering him he finally broke down and agreed to sell me the car, only because he needed space for a new McLaren. I loved this car and although I have had far fancier cars, I never got more compliments then driving that beast.
A few bad apples again ruined this version of Cars and Coffee and it jumped around and gotten diluted ever since. I believe someone years ago franchised the name and they are now everywhere. There is a pretty decent one in the South Bay, the San Fernando Valley, and until last week a decent one Saturday mornings in Los Feliz near the big fountain. That has just got bumped again and now is in Griffith Park.
I’m a Porsche guy these days and for the last ten years or so hit Pebble Beach, Rennsport, Luftgekuhlt, the Porsche Driving Experience in Carson, and others, but feel privileged to have witnessed our original Cars and Coffee, and feel a special kinship when I meet someone else who as well showed up a dozen or so years ago.
The Agency Beverly Hills