On Saturday November 3, those of us here in Southern California experienced another weekend of extended summer like weather. As a result, those in attendance at Cars&Coffee were treated to a truly eclectic gathering of automobiles.
With such a diverse cross-section of vehicles represented, I really felt as if I were walking through an outdoor art gallery, experiencing row after row of 4 wheeled art and sculpture. And with each new row, the experience resembled that of entering a new and different wing within a museum, and discovering the treasures within. And that was exactly the type of experience that would unfold before me that morning.
My first stop of the morning, with illumination courtesy of the rising sun, was with these two examples of classic, post WWII automotive art; in this case a pair of 1930’s vintage, American bred hot rods…
The 5 window coupe’s motor (as seen below).
The pickup truck even displayed what appeared to be a flying eyeball hood ornament, perhaps influenced by the famous flying eyeball logo /graphic created by California pin striping legend Von Dutch (below)…
Over at the featured lot, I encountered this beautiful British Racing Green Jaguar, with its sculpted curves being accentuated by some amazing reflections, courtesy of the early morning light.
There was no mistaking the origins of this particular model due to its unique design, and the badge on the front hood only reinforced the fact that parked before me was one of the very rare,1957 Jaguar D-type XKSS roadsters.
With the sunrise and reflections both working their magic, the shapes and contours of the front hood and fenders were beautifully displayed, and further illustrated the sculptural impact to the styling of this car.
Even when viewed from behind, the subtle contours of the body along with the angular, almost pinched profile of the side windows were further revealed and accentuated by the early morning sunrise.
Seeing this car in person brought to mind a magazine article I remembered reading years ago about Steve McQueen, in which the author described his ownership of a 1957 Jaguar XKSS. The article had mentioned several specific modifications that McQueen had made to his car. The first was to repaint the car a proper British Racing Green. The second was to add a locking door to the glove box cubby in the dashboard ( the cars were delivered without glove box doors). McQueen turned to one of his friends (Pin striper Von Dutch) for the fabrication of a locking glove box door, to correct the oversight by Jaguar. The third modification made was to have the original interior kept stock, but to have the upholstery redone in black leather, by none other than the Southern California-based drag racer turned custom car upholsterer Tony Nancy. This particular car parked in front of me possessed all of the aforementioned details, so the question remained; could this car be the ex-Steve McQueen Jaguar XKSS?
(Postscript: After publishing this post, I received an email from the owner of the XKSS one week later, wanting to clarify the origins of his car. I learned that it is in fact an XKSS re-creation, and not an original model. The amazing fiberglass body was created by Realm Engineering, located in the U.K., and is mounted to a Reynard Racing chassis, specified with Jaguar running gear. Power is produced by a 4.2 liter Jaguar motor, pumping out 300 horsepower, and is transferred to the rear wheels via a Tremec 5 speed transmission. Seeing this car in person puts the automotive re-creation industry in a whole new light).
My next stop would be to Porsche row, for my weekly visit.
A trio of early Porsche 911s, with the outer two displaying the optional Lietz roof racks…
Caught in the middle; the white, 1972 911 RGruppe GT 2.7 coupe, complete with its unique, rear quarter window graphic.
The early 911 triplets as seen below (foreground to background)- 1969 911E, 1972 911 GT, and 1973 911E.
Located several rows over to the East, and down the aisle from the weekly Mercedes-Benz 190SL enclave, I discovered this trio of classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The first example (as seen below), in red and black, turned out to be a pre-war 1936 Mercedes-Benz 230 W-143 Cabriolet B; a spectacular and beautifully restored, touring car.
Sandwiched in-between the other two Mercedes-Benz vehicles, was this Ivory colored, 1930s vintage two-seat roadster with red interior, also appearing to have been restored.
Parked immediately to the right was what appeared to be a model 260D, W-138 series sedan, also sporting a two toned paint finish, in green with black fenders.
What made the 260 D model unique was that the D designation represented a diesel engined vehicle, and made this particular model the first diesel engined, series produced passenger car. And according to the Mercedes-Benz records, only 2000 of these vehicles were built between 1936 and 1940, at which time their production was stopped due to the war. All three of these cars literally looked like they had just rolled off of a Mercedes-Benz showroom floor.
As I continued my trek through the “gallery”, a white, early model Porsche 911 caught my eye, so I walked over to get a closer look ( see below). I had seen this car arrive earlier that morning, and remembered a comment made by a friend standing over on Porsche Row regarding its exhaust note. He stated that this particular car sounded exactly how a Porsche 911 engine should sound; Tight and clear with a smooth idle, and without any extraneous noise or valve clatter. And anyone who has been around or is familiar with Porsche 911s, will know the specific sound I’ve described.
I soon realized that there was something familiar about this car; I had seen it before, but could not remember where. It was then that the owner came over and introduced himself, as I was photographing the motor. I quickly learned that this car had been previously owned by one of the two founding members of the Porsche car club “RGruppe”, and after being shown an article written years ago in Excellence magazine about this very car and two other 911s, it hit me. That was where I has seen this car before, having read the same article, and obviously it had made an impression.
As a result of this cars previous ownership, this car was equipted with many of the cool, go fast Motorsports purposed, Porsche factory parts. This car would become a visual blueprint used by many a Porsche owner who aspired to building their own unique version of an RGruppe inspired, pre 1974 Porsche 911.
Up front, an example of the custom finished, Porsche factory, 911R inspired “Deep 6” Fuchs alloy wheel.
Race inspired, door mounted Talbot mirror…
Shown below is the performance inspired interior; from the 911R styled, light weight door panels and pulls, to the Recaro sports seats for the driver and passenger, a Prototipo racing steering wheel (complete with the proper patina), and the removal of the radio, with a filler panel added and the void covered over. Even the speedometer and tachometer have been rotated to the left, to allow for the monitoring of critical vehicle speed and engine RPM at a glance; each gauge had been set in order to peg its orange needle at the twelve o’clock position).
Even the rear deck lid was given the RGruppe treatment. The stock, factory dimensional rear badging was removed, and replaced by adhesive backed vinyl graphics, once again taking inspiration from the early Porsche 911 race cars…
My last stop of the morning was to check out this stunning Orange, 2007 Porsche GT3RS. With the crowds and cars having thinned, I was able to move around and photograph the GT3RS without interference.
The lighting by mid morning created some incredible highlights, reflections and shadows, and created the visual impression of an airbrushed rendering.
Form follows function; the GT3RS rear wing. Purpose built for speed, generating downforce and capturing hidden reflections (see below)…
My last shot of the morning and one of my favorite from the November 3rd event. The sunlight really brought this color to life, and showcased the collective styling cues unique to the GT3RS, re-stating the obvious: There is no substitute.
So should you find yourself in need of some artistic inspiration on a Saturday morning, come take a stroll through the automotive galley known locally as Cars&Coffee. You won’t be disappointed…
(All photos by the author)