Irvine Cars & Coffee — Anniversary Edition

Old cars and old friends gather together

by | Oct 9, 2019 | Shows & Events

Photo Credit: John Lamm

Irvine Cars & Coffee — Anniversary Edition

Old cars and old friends gather together

by | Oct 9, 2019 | Shows & Events

Photo Credit: John Lamm

It started years ago with a gathering of hot rods at Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach. Since then, the cars and coffee “movement” has moved through several locations around Southern California.

For 8 years — 2006 through 2014 — one of the major meetings was at an Irvine parking lot shared by Ford and Mazda. Its instigators were Ford public relations guru John Clinard and famed designer Freeman Thomas who penned the Volkswagen New Beetle and the original Audi TT, among other automobiles.

They were impressive assemblies. You name the car and it was likely there one Saturday. A vintage Rolls-Royce, a Formula 1 race car, design prototypes, Porsches galore, hot rods… and so many others on 410 consecutive Saturday mornings. The event’s popularity eventually became its undoing. Huge crowds — even tour buses — and then the construction of a major nearby hotel brought the show to an end.

Recently, Clinard and Freeman got to thinking it was time for a Cars and Coffee anniversary gathering, and what better than to make it a charity event. The Saturday was to benefit Orange County GRIP, which is sponsored by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Its purpose? To divert at-risk youth away from gangs and toward completion of high school.

Ford and Lincoln were also involved in the event, which was an invitational to keep the gathering down to a workable size. Only cars from 1978 or earlier were invited, unless they were truly rare and exceptional. The parking lot was divided by country — Germans here, British there, etc. — with a special area for show cars.

The event had a great turnout, coffee and donuts, of course, and plenty of friends reconnecting. And then it rained. Was the event ruined? Far from it. Few vehicles left. It was thought most of the cars either didn’t have windshield wipers, the wipers didn’t work or, being sunny California, the owners didn’t know how to turn them on. So everyone huddled under trees and pop-up canvas shelters and kept on chatting.

Here are a few entrants we met:

1967 Porsche 911 at Irvine Cars & Coffee

Kurht Gerhardt, Derek Boycks and friends spent two years rebuilding this 1967 Porsche 911, not for a concours, but to survive Mongolia. The car needed to be hefty and strong, hence such changes as the sturdy front tube bumper, a skid pad and a 100-liter fuel tank. Basically, a stock 1600-cc engine. This 911 took the pair on a circuitous 8,600-mile, 36-day rally from Beijing to Mongolia to China to Russia and eventually to Paris.

Porsche

The Porsche in the wilds of Mongolia. Photo: Derek Boycks

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Coleen Sheehan got this 1930 BMW 3/15 DA2 cabriolet when she was 8 years old. It was restored and accepted at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. After winning 3rd in class, Coleen, then 11, drove it across the awards ramp.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Coleen, now 27, loves to drive the BMW. “When it’s not broken,” she says. But her dad Mike points out that, “If you’re really, really brave you can get it to 35 mph.” Coleen laughs and adds, “If it’s downhill with a tailwind.”

Irvine Cars & Coffee

The DA2s were reportedly the first vehicles to carry the BMW badge.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Many of us knew Herb Adams as the Pontiac engineer who created the GTO Trans-Am Gray Ghost that mixed it up with the factory Mustangs and Camaros. Before that, he created the 1965 Vivant show car. Pontiac-based, it is has a V-8 engine and in 2017 won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance “American Dream Cars of the 1960s” class.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Ever seen one of these before? This is Richard Plavetich’s rare mid-1960s Matra-Bonnet J5S, one of 1,500 produced.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

It has a Renault-Gordini crossflow hemi-head engine with about 110 horsepower mounted amidships. The car only weighs some 1,300 pounds so, “it scoots along just great,” says Plavetich. Given the Matra-Bonnet’s unusual design, it’s fun to know Plavetich is General Manager for Nissan Design America in California. “But I have a thing for obscure French sports cars,” he says.

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Irvine Cars & Coffee

Tom Malloy has a history with vintage automobiles and had always wanted this hot rod. Built by Dick Russell, who had worked for Parnelli Jones, it is a 1925 Ford Model T with an Offenhauser overhead-cam engine. Malloy says it “runs like a top,” and he drove the hot rod to the event.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers brought four cars in the race driver’s memory. At the front is a new Ford GT done in the colors of the Ford GT in which Gurney and AJ Foyt won Le Mans in 1967. Next is a 2005 Ford GT that was a 75th birthday gift to Gurney, and was modified with a bubble in the roof of the sort the tall driver needed to fit in Ford GTs. Next, a 1963 Cobra of the type in which he scored wins for Carroll Shelby. Last is a 1969 Dan Gurney special Mercury Cyclone.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Look to the left in the photo and you’ll see two gentlemen relaxing. They are Richard Bjorklund and Lee Hein, both of whom retired and followed their dream of owning a hot rod. This is their pair of almost-matching 1940 Fords. And the cars don’t gather dust. Just the weekend before, Bjorklund and Hein had traveled with the Forties Limited car club on a 500-mile round trip to Morro Bay.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

She finally found a car her size. This young lady is looking into a very famous show car, the 1970 Bertone Lancia Stratos HF Zero.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Designed by Marcello Gandini, it is powered by a 1.6-liter Lancia Fulvia V-4 engine.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Once a king of the show car circuit — Paris, Torino and Geneva — here was the Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV out in the real world, and the rain. It looked as handsome as ever with its well-known Pinin Farina bodywork.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

A trio of Brits. In the foreground is a rare 1967 MG factory-built lightweight MG C-GTS, with a racing history that includes the Targa Florio. Next is a 1961 Jaguar E-Type featuring the factory’s famed lightweight bodywork. And, of course, there has to be a Land Rover.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

This 1909 Buick was bought locally — in Santa Ana — in 1910, converted to a race car and used in events like the Los Angeles-to-Phoenix Cactus Derby. More recently it has been driven numerous times on the coast-to-coast Great America Race by the Holland family.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

Tom Scheil has had this 1934 Packard Phaeton since 1968. He was just out of college and didn’t have a lot of money, but he was able to afford it because it was partially disassembled. He figured he’d need a couple of years for the restoration. It took 11. He has since put 40,000 miles on the Packard and is a head judge for the Packards International Motor Car Club.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” From the Porsche collection of Jeff Zwart, a 1952 Porsche “coffee train” tractor. It is one of 200 made to be used on coffee plantations in Brazil.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

It has a 1600-cc 2-cylinder engine backed by a 5-speed transmission.

Irvine Cars & Coffee

While other Porsche tractors have diesel engines, this one uses gasoline as there was concern about the effect of diesel exhaust pollution on the coffee plants.

 

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