Last weekend, we left the troubles of the regular work week behind, and hopped a flight out to beautiful California. Friday through Sunday were spent in a glorious haze of Porsche beauty. Sun up to sun down, the days were filled with all things vintage and air-cooled.
Most car guys will, by now, be familiar with the Irvine, CA Cars and Coffee event. It has become a booming gathering of car guys of every type. The featured marque this time was Porsche, and as such, the turnout was phenomenal. The Mazda USA corporate headquarters parking lot was filled from front to back, and the largest percentage of representation was surely vintage Porsche. Loads of 356, 911, 912, and 914 paraded in a steady stream into the vast lot, and each were ushered into a special display section dedicated to the brand.
Celebrity Porsche Sightings Were the Standard
The Rarest of the Rare Were in Attendance as Well
With much of Saturday still remaining after we left Cars and Coffee for a drive along the PCH, partly to spot some beach volleyball cuties, partly to take in the sights, and partly as a time-burning trip to see if we could find some diamonds in the rough. We wanted to find the next Speedster in a garden, and we came pretty close.
Scuttling down Laguna Canyon road, our car-guy-eyes spotted a number of interesting features in a particular lot. Parked out front were a handful of air-cooled VW machinery, and behind the gate, an early 911 could be seen next to a 928. As we passed by, the consensus was that we needed to stop there and investigate. After a quick turnaround in some holistic healing center (or some other California nonsense) parking lot, we quietly poked around the repair shop lot.
Finding the proprietor in a cramped office to the side of the repair shop, I poked my head in and asked if he wouldn’t mind my looking around. As calm and casual as ever, he said “As long as you don’t touch anything”. While normally said with a tinge of disdain, this sentence could not have been more genuine. I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I took some photographs of the vehicles, to which he visibly brightened and said “Sure, let me show you around”. It was clear that the shop owner was proud of his business, stating that he’d been living the repair shop life for 33 years.
A gaggle of longhood 9lls, a strange fiberglass 356 hotrod, an old BMW 2002, A Ferrari Dino 246, two or three partially disassembled 356s, and more VW busses than you can shake a stick at occupied the inner workings of the tightly packed shop and surrounding buildings. With two giant swing out garage doors on the face of the building, the garage was somehow open and airy, despite the lack of space to move about. Outside, a tree grew up through the center of the lot, shading another grouping of cars. It was obvious as he showed us around that the guy was still a car guy, even after all of these years.
The crux of our trip, however, was the event hosted by the 356 Club of Southern California, known as the Dana Point Concours. Held for the last several years butted up to the coast in Dana Point, CA, the event has been growing rapidly, with this year being the largest by far. An approximate 250 cars arrived to a hazy overcast but warm day, arranging themselves in perfect rows on the manicured lawns. While the concours was billed as 356 specific, there were plenty of other exciting Porsches to ogle. Trucking all the way from the east coast, The Ingram Collection brought a gaggle of rare cars, including a 4-cylinder 904 GTS, a 1968 911R, and a 356 America Roadster.
The concours itself was a true East vs. West battle for the “Best in Show” honors. Reputation, respect, and accolades were on the line. Representing the East Coast, Raleigh, NC based Road Scholars entered the concours competition with a 1955 Continental Coupe in a gorgeous AzurBlau over ModeGrau.
Representing the West Coast, however, was Willhoit Auto Restoration of Long Beach, CA with a 1964 Carrera 2 in bright SignalRot. Both cars looked better presented than they even would have been rolling off the assembly line, but it was Willhoit’s four-cam that eventually won out.
California is a Porsche Paradise
Prior to this trip, I had not had much opportunity to spend time in California. In attending shows, driving around, and stopping at a few shops, it took a minute to sink in exactly how many vintage Porsches there are in SoCal. The sheer volume of antique air-coolers is mind boggling. Driving in a car with three automotive enthusiasts in the car obsessed county proved a lesson in car-guy Tourette’s syndrome, with all of us frequently shouting “SPEEDSTER” and “LONG HOOD” and “WHALE TAIL” amid standard conversation sentences. A 356 parked along the PCH, or a pair of Carrera 3.2s weaving through traffic on the 405, or a SpeedGelb Carrera GT sitting under the shade of some trees at the park; in California, these sights are much more common than in other parts of the country, or indeed the world.
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