It’s a shame that I have missed, up until now, a car show only one hour away, one that’s popular and filled with interesting vehicles. Cars & Coffee gatherings on Saturday and Sunday mornings have gained popularity around the country. Today, at the Cars & Coffee event in Irvine California, I discovered a large group of people with cars they love to show. Being that it’s not a formal, judged show, every car here was on its own level of preparation and the amount of money their owners are willing to put into it. There were some cars that were obviously daily drivers and others that were just as obviously weekend toys. There were owners whose cars were setup for track events, stripped of extraneous weight, and those with some of the flashiest add-ons they could find. There were cars there so new the paper registration tags hadn’t even come off yet, and cars so rare I couldn’t figure out what they were.
I was hoping to be able to talk with some owners. If it wasn’t for the people involved, cars would just be machines, amazing machines, but still inanimate mechanical objects. It’s a large show so even though we got there by 7:15 we had to use overflow parking. Since we were late, many of the owner’s were already looking at other cars so it was hard to find an owner of a car near their own automobile. I was lucky enough, though, that I found one such gentleman. Robert Yale owns a 1969 Alfa Romeo Duetto 1750 that he purchased back in 1982. After taking mechanics’ classes with an Alfa loving friend in the seventies, when he got his “first real job” Yale followed in that friend’s footsteps and purchased his first Alfa. He still has it. How many people do you know who have owned the same car for almost 30 years?
Having been mostly restored in 2003 this Duetto’s paint looks excellent. When you restore a car you have to decide if you’re going for 100% originality or if you are going to make a car that you can enjoy. For some collectors having creature comforts is worth losing a point or two for originality. “Although some purists hate it I love having air conditioning in it,” Yale stated. Even the heater works like a “blast furnace” as Yale describes it. Other modifications are more for looks than for comfort. The Alfa wears a set of “seventy-two spoke Borrani wire wheels [that] were my first Ebay purchase ever,” Yale comments. I have to say they really work on the car. The red and black interior, with a traditional wood rim steering wheel, also looked great.
Car shows, particularly informal ones like Cars & Coffee, demonstrate the love people have for their cars. An hour’s drive or not, this show is definitely worth going to. There is a car for everyone there, every car has an owner and every owner has its story.