Post by Kasey Kagawa

I love living in southern California. There are the usual reasons: great weather, beautiful coastline, major cultural center, easy access to at least five shopping centers full of everything from high quality tracksuits to candles to technology that are twice the size of the average small town. However, my favorite reason for living in the LA/OC metro area isn’t really something that’s that well known, even among locals. It used to be called the Crystal Cove Auto Show, and took place every Saturday morning at a shopping center bordering Crystal Cove State Park, and it was a car fanatic’s paradise. No matter what kind of cars you’re into, they had something there for you. Ferraris and Lamborghinis sat next to the finest Detroit muscle, European classics sharing the same space as highly tuned imports. It was a very democratic affair, giving regular schlubs like me a chance to get up close to cars that I’d otherwise only see from ten feet away behind a Plexiglas divider at the LA Auto Show.

Alas, as with all good things, The Man had to rain on our little parade, since towards the end 300 people or so routinely filled the shopping center every Saturday with noisy cars and motorcycles, disturbing the very expensive sleep of the people who live in the multi-million dollar condos behind the center. The Irvine Company, lord and master of their domain, saw that Crystal Cove violated their strict “No Fun and Individuality” policy, and after trying to annoy us to death by restricting the cars that could park in the middle section where the main show was then later forcing us to wait outside the parking lot on PCH (creating a very interesting safety situation), eventually put enough pressure on the owners of the center to have them shut down the show entirely.

But the powers that be at Ford’s Premier Auto Group North American headquarters in Irvine happened to be big fans of the show, and conspired with the original founders of Crystal Cove to save this wonderful icon of southern California automotive enthusiasm and excess by moving it to the parking lot on the back of their building. The new location is bigger, allowing more cars to show up for more time. However, since it’s no longer at Crystal Cove, the name was changed to Cars & Coffee. It’s not as cosmopolitan an affair as the old show, which featured expensive landscaping and a Starbucks, bordered by the hills of southern Orange County and the Pacific Ocean. Cars & Coffee is at a parking lot in the back of a corporate building in a business park in Irvine, one of the dreariest places on the planet. What we lost in scenery we’ve made up for in manufacturer presence. Strange and exotic cars from Ford and other manufacturers are a routine presence, along with the occasional concept, like the Maybach Exelero. Also, groups that volunteer to help out set up and tear down the tables where coffee and various breakfast pastries are sold are allowed to have their own section if they talk to the organizers in advance.

I am aware that the photo quality isn’t the best, and there are two excellent reasons for this. Where Crystal Cove was situated on the coast with large buildings blocking direct sunlight to the center in the morning and was often overcast, creating lovely diffused lighting, Cars & Coffee is bordered by the I-5 freeway on the eastern side, providing loads of super-bright direct sunlight to create huge glare and the lot is filled with very thick trees that block out all sunlight, creating something of a photographic catch-22. Also, I’m not a very good photographer. Sorry.

Well, without any further adieu, here’s the gallery: 2006: 1202 – SoCal Coffee & Cars

If you liked what you saw in the main gallery, here’s some links to some galleries of previous shows, both at Crystal Cove and at PAG:
Crystal Cove 10/14/06: The best day I had ever seen at Crystal Cove. Good luck I had my camera with me, then.
Crystal Cove 10/14/06: The last day at Crystal Cove…
Cars & Coffee 10/21/06:…and the first day at PAG.

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Kasey Kagawa

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