Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cars & Coffee - The Best Casual Car Show on Earth

What makes Cars & Coffee in Irvine, Calfornia so special?  Why do I regularly wake at 4:00 AM on Saturdays in order to drive 100 sleep deprived miles?  Part of the answer is rather obvious - the cars.  More specifically, the quality and variety of cars.  The other part of the equation is less easily defined, but I'll try.

The C&C atmosphere is magic.  You arrive bleary-eyed and dazed, park in a non-descript multi-storey garage and wander down to the sidewalk leading to the main parking lot where the show takes place.  As you amble down the path past the Taco Bell (née Ford Premium Auto Group) building, you hear musical exhausts and intake sounds echoing in the early post-dawn coastal fog, and if you look to your left over the hedge that chalupas built you'll catch glimpses of some seriously evocative rolling shapes from which these fantastic sounds eminate - it's overwhelming and surreal, even after repeat visits.  Everyone is smiling, having a good time.  There's no attitudes, loud music or anyone trying to sell stuff - it's a respectful, quiet, almost reverential ambience.  You might see a broke college kid's haggard Miata project parked next to a seriously wealthy old guy's '59 Testarossa (I personally witnessed this exact scenario) - this alone is spectacular, but the fact that both are likely equally interested in eachother's car is what makes the vibe truly unique.  It's all very democratic, friendly and relaxed.

After an hour and a half or so of strolling among high-end supercars, vintage French quirkiness, classic American Muscle, 70s and 80s JDM, Unimogs, Tatras, Matras, Packards, Bentleys, DKWs, Hudsons, Cords, Bugattis, 911s, Panhards, Astons, Ferraris, Lancias, hotrods, customs, racecars, lowriders, concepts, foreign market unobtanium, that weird Prius with the gold-plated battery bay and stick-on quad exhaust that always shows, and everything in between - it's best to grab a spot near the exit and watch and listen to the cars leave. 

There's a always a cop parked in a Crown Vic or sitting on a motorcycle, and he's there to make sure no one does anything that could jeopardize the event.  We'd all love to see smoky burnouts and smell fried clutch, but other, less petrolsexual Irvine residents aren't as keen on such hooning.  That all said, the police are pretty liberal about what is allowed - the unspoken rule seems to be "no burnouts, no wheelspin".  Once hooked up, full throttle to well past the speed limit is a regular and apparently quasi-legal occurence.  Nothing like a straight-piped, twin-turbo Gallardo screaming away at redline to clear the morning sleepiness out of one's head. 
$8,000,000 or so of street-driven GTO parked near an old Camaro

If you're in SoCal and reading this, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  Bring some like-minded friends, get there early (no later than 6:30 AM if you want to catch the good stuff) and have a great time.

I'm going again this weekend, so plan on the usual post of shitty photos sometime shortly afterwards.  Hope to see you there!

camaraderie - event takes place in a Mazda corporate office parking lot

P.S. for lots of pictures be sure to check out my previous coverage of C&C by clicking on this post's Cars and Coffee tag.


  1. I've been trying to convey your wonderful description of the event! However, I have found that my friends are not car crazu enough to wake up at 4AM on a Saturday morning....especially after a night of partying! Only a dedicated few are willing to sacrafice precious sleep for such an orgasmic experience! Well done

    1. Hey don't include me in that group, I'm HARDCORE, haha.

      G, Chris P and I are going this Saturday, maybe even G senior. Boris said he's going on FB. You and Kevin should come up, too.

      And thanks!

  2. Alan, this is wonderful. The whole description totally fits the mood and the setting I'd be aiming for. Unfortunately, living in Serbia is not making things any easier when it comes to paying this magical place a visit... :(
    We all have some car enthusiast events periodically... Check out these when you can. I went with my buddy and my wife and here are the photos. It might be interesting to you, as you can see some European exotics which are not featured that frequently on the US roads.

    1. That's a nice set, I loved the Lambda and 'Elect Jesus' New Yorker best. The idea of one of those old yachts cruising Serbian streets is hilarious - like seeing a Renault 4 at a truck stop in Texas - out of place isn't strong enough a phrase.

  3. And another one:

    Keep up the good work, I really enjoy your stuff, unlike most other unimaginative car related stuff on the internet. Cheers!

    1. A DS and an SM together is a magical scene, one I've never witnessed first hand.

      Thanks for the nice words, man. Glad to have you as a reader.