Under My Nose
I have been seeing articles and photos of Cars & Coffee events for years, and only recently discovered that one was being held six miles from where I live.
I got up that morning, still feeling the vibrations from the tequila shots I enjoyed just a few hours earlier, and made my way to the event. In my mind, I saw Cars and Coffee events as a way for older car enthusiasts to gather with their weekend toys without having to worry about young kids in slammed Subaru’s doing donuts in the parking lot.
Clean Slate for a First Impression
When I arrived, I parked my Mazda in the very back, because I was not there to partake but to merely observe. Plus, I did not have a time to wash the Mazda and I felt guilty about it.
My father taught me long ago that it is always better to listen before speaking. To gather information before making a decision or forming an opinion. I threw away my thoughts of old men and their Porsches holding Starbucks cups and walked to the car show area with a blank slate.
I noticed that all walks of life were at this event. Families, young gear heads, old gear heads, and people who were just enjoying their weekend looking at machines. One thing that I never liked with car shows is that they love putting Hondas with Hondas, Mopars with Mopars, etc. Seeing the same car over and over again with slight differences in color or wheels is boring. A car show is an event where everyone shares a common interest, cars, so why segregate them as if they were gang colors? This cars and coffee event had some Camaros set up in a line, but other than that it was parking lot of variety. It was nice being able to admire a different machine as I made my way through the lot.
Listen & Observe
Although I may have a cynical opinion on people sometimes, I am always fascinated by them. I walked along taking photos of cars with my ears open, hoping to catch sound bits of people’s conversations. I heard the stereotypical conversations being hosted around cars. Two guys trying to one up each other on who knew more about a blue second gen Camaro. A bored girlfriend waiting with a bored expression on her face while her, I’m assuming, boyfriend talked to the owner of a Nissan GTR. Young teens with learner’s permits in their wallets geeking out over a Green Hellcat Challenger with paper plates. Young people with expensive cameras and drones, taking photos for their own automotive blogs.
I was still feeling dazed from the events of the night before, so I stayed quiet and unnoticed.
The Drag Pack
I was admiring a beater looking El Camino with the words NITRO EXPRESS written across it when I noticed a crowd gathering over a tow truck. A local speed shop was unloading two examples of their craftsmanship. A set of 1970 Dodge Challengers, each modified way beyond factory spec. The Drag pack were parked next to each other as people flocked to them to get a better look at these quarter mile stallions. The owners were bombarded with the same questions over and over again.
“What engine is it?” – It’s a Hemi.
“How fast does it go?” – It’s a 7 second car.
The owners gave off the impression that they were annoyed with the simple questions, but I know that any show off loves the attention they receive. Especially if it’s something they built. They were there to promote their business. A free marketing opportunity.
Staring down the blower of one of the Challengers gave me the same expression Mad Max had the first time he laid eyes on his Falcon interceptor. That childish look of want as the imagination cycles through scenarios of burnt tires and high rev gear changes.
The automotive world is a melting pot where different subcultures come together over one basic common interest. You have tuners, muscle, import, low rider, 4×4, etc. I never fell into one specific subculture for some reason. I prefer classic muscle if I had to pick a favorite, but I am not going to dismiss a beautiful Alfa Romeo just because it doesn’t have a V8. I like the Cars and Coffee events because they are simple. No trophies to win, no best in show award, no forced advertising, and no hooning to spoil everyone’s fun. It is just a place to show off your car and talk with people who share your interest in the hobby. I plan on brining my own toys to this event in the future.