If you’re an automotive enthusiast, and you spent any kind of time in Southern California from 2006 to 2014, then you likely have experienced one of the all-time great automotive gatherings—the famed Cars & Coffee at the Ford Design Center, in Irvine. Arguably, the progenitor of all Cars & Coffee events, the Irvine Cars & Coffee played host every Saturday to the full spectrum of automotive insanity, from Rat Rods and Bugattis to Ferraris and Resto-Mods. But perhaps even more interestingly, it also played host to the great and good of the automotive world, everyone from designers and industry executives, to personalities like Dan Gurney and Jay Leno. It was like a low-key automotive Woodstock. But sadly, when the event started attracting over 1,000 cars a weekend, it became a victim of its own popularity. On December 14, 2014, the organizers held their final event, and thus spawned the creation of literally dozens of smaller, “regional” Cars & Coffees around Southern California… and the world.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was at an Alfa Romeo Owners Club event when a friend told me it was coming back, for a special, one-day, invite only event they were calling “Lattes & Lincolns”. He asked if I’d like to bring my Alfa as one of the 300 invited cars? Ah…yeah!
So now that my Alfa is running so well — and I’ve committed to being a good boy and driving it more frequently — I was stoked at the opportunity to drive it down to Irvine this past Saturday and show it amongst the automotive cognoscenti. That is until I woke up Saturday morning to the latest in a continuing series of Biblical rain storms we’ve endured the past few months. [Insert, author screams and shakes his fists at the heavens, here]. I so wanted to drive her down to the show but, while I have rediscovered the joys of my soft top, that car has not seen so much as a drop of water in the past 25 years. If I were to even drive it on a wet road, let alone in the rain, I know I’ll irreversibly set in motion the rusty demarcation of every scratch and untreated part, as well as the slow dissolution of every square centimeter of genuine uncoated Italian sheet metal. Nobody puts Baby in the rain…
Despite my bitter disappointment, the wife and I trundled down to the show anyway in her less-than-car-show-worthy Volvo SUV. And, while there were certainly a significant number of rain-aversive wimps, such as myself, that took a pass, there was still a solid 150-200 cars that braved the conditions. Organized by Ford PR legend John Clinard, the event was once again hosted in the parking lot of the Ford Design Center and featured a host of rare Lincolns, including the wildly futuristic Lincoln L100 concept car, with its massive space-age interior. Elsewhere scattered around the parking lot were Ferraris, Porsches, a clutch of exquisite coachbuilt Alfas, a Bugatti Veyron and even one of Dan Gurney’s Eagle Indy cars. Standing next to the Indy car, my wife asked what year it was and before I could respond a petite, well-dressed woman turned around and in a German accent said, “1968”. “Oh, hey Evi!”, was my response to Dan Gurney’s wife Evi, who I haven’t caught up with in some time.
Between catching up with Evi and other friends, and poking around all the rare and interesting cars (you don’t see a mid-engined Matra Bonnet every day!), Lattes & Lincolns absolutely lived up to its storied past. Now, if I could just convince Clinard to hold just one more under drier conditions!