Our first outing in Los Angeles turns out to be an absolute doozy.
A big part of car culture includes ‘Cars and Coffee’ events. Regardless of where you are, there’s a cars and coffee event taking place somewhere close by. The frequency, the attendance and the cars might differ, but the concept remains mostly the same.
It’s easy to forget that the concept itself was born in South California. What started out as a few enthusiasts bringing out their cars for a coffee and a chat on a Sunday morning has turned into a common fixture. Events have grown from nothing, to being so big that local law enforcement has deemed it unsafe. The result was an explosion in the number of cars and coffee meets taking place on any given weekend morning.
Having followed Petrolicious for a few years now, I was familiar with the Trancas Market Cars and Coffee in Malibu. The cars and the crowd seemed to get better every month and I often wondered how such rare machinery would gather in the same place time after time. With my feet now firmly on SoCal soil, it was time to find out.
The day of the event, I rose early and joined a friend on the road to Malibu. The freeways were empty and our plan to beat the traffic had been successful. About an hour later, with the Pacific on our left, we stopped at the last set of lights before the turnoff. An E46 M3 and an Alfa Romeo Junior were just ahead and subsequently lit up their rear tyres when the light turned green. No doubt the caffeine was already kicking in.
Turning in towards Trancas, I caught a glimpse of a number of cars lined up with people milling around. We drove past looking for parking, which is when I began to understand why this event is so revered. A Jaguar E-type Roadster, numerous air-cooled 911s, more Alfas and an E28 M5 were parked all the way up the hill, simply because there was no space at the venue. If these cars were out here, what was actually at Trancas?
Following the cars like a trail of breadcrumbs, we finally reached the event space.
Ever get the feeling that you’d like to clone yourself because there’s too much for one person to see? That was me.
I was surrounded by automotive gems. BMW 2002 Turbo, Porsche 356s, another Jag E-Type, Mustang Fastbacks and more. The number of 911s around might lead someone to believe that they were going out of style. Longhoods, G-Series, 964s, 993s, outlaws, restorations, rally cars with patina.
Moving further, a Ferrari 275 was parked opposite an F40 and a green 911 rally car. A Ferrari 512BB, a Lamborghini Jarama, a Porsche 914 with an LS motor, a Ruf CTR3, a VW Beetle and a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 were just a few of the cars present.
What I found even more surprising was that the crowd was extremely laidback. A number had brought their dogs along and were casually browsing as one would at a department store. Meanwhile, I was having my mind blown.
Walking on, I stopped by a Factory Five Racing Cobra to chat with the owner. Five minutes into the conversation, he casually looked up and said, “Morning Mr. Leno. Nice to see you again.” My ears almost fell off as I looked up.
It was Jay Leno, admiring the car. After giving a nod of approval he moved on to the next one, in a blur of denim. Just like that.
He wasn’t the only one either. Rod Emory, CJ Wilson, Chad McQueen, Matt Farah, all just part of the crowd. No fanfare, no flashes, they were just casually engaged in conversation with friends and fellow car enthusiasts.
An orange Ferrari Dino caught my eye and recaptured my focus. A Mercedes Benz 280SE 4.5 was parked next to a Morgan 3-wheeler. I also found a 914-6, a red Countach with gold wheels, a Duesenberg and a Delhaye parked around the Trancas property.
By this point the sun had come out from behind the clouds and the temperature had risen from bearable to uncomfortable. As people headed for their cars, we followed suit. I was still reeling from all that I had seen. A Ferrari 275, an F40, a Duesenberg and an Emory Outlaw 356, in the same place? How was that even possible?
I guess the only way to answer that is to shrug your shoulders and say, “It’s Los Angeles.”
As we made our way onto Mulholland Drive for a bit of canyon carving, I continued to see classic metal. At one point, we got dusted by a 911 2.4, that seemed to vanish into thin air. There was no shortage of motorcycles too, with riders going so fast that they were almost horizontal in the curves. Their screaming engine notes echoed deep into the valley before dispersing among the trees.
I had gotten out of bed that morning looking forward to a decent introduction to Los Angeles car culture. What I had received at Trancas was a sledgehammer blow waking me up to the endless automotive possibilities that exist within Southern California.
You can be sure of one thing; we’ll definitely be at the next Trancas Market Cars and Coffee and we hope to see you there.
Hat tip to Kunal Jain for the info and the ride.