Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cars & Coffee – 10/2/10

Good Things Always Come in Threes

With uncharacteristic thunderstorms in the area, we were thinking about skipping Cars & Coffee this go-around. Cloudy skies and damp roads generally produce small turnouts so why bother driving all the way down there to see an empty damp parking lot? Thank goodness we changed our mind. It was a pretty full house, with the main lot just about filled to capacity.

Jeff Zwart brought the very same Porsche GT3 Cup car he recently blasted up Pike's Peak in. A handful of Mercedes SLs brought the company's heritage to life with everything from a pair of Gullwings to a new SL65 Black Series. Someone actually brought a Bristol...and thankfully it didn't come with a Sarah Palin or a Levi Johnston. So much for these priceless cars melting in the rain.

Aside from the usual eclectic mix of hot rods, muscle cars, sports cars and exotics, the weather actually improved. The clouds eventually parted and a rainbow appeared. In fact, it was a double rainbow...high above the show lot. At the base of that rainbow we found our own pot of gold – three separate clusters of smile-inducing make and model gatherings.

The loudest cars in the show were also among the smallest. A healthy gathering of Sunbeam Tigers took up one whole row of the corral. There were Mk I, 1a, II and even Le Mans versions of these British-American hybrids on hand. Just like with the AC Cobra, Carroll Shelby was part of the Sunbeam Tiger's history. Sunbeam had a bit of a reputation for being more of a GT cruiser than a proper sports car, so the crew came up with the idea to get Shelby to do a Cobra-like makeover of their little Alpine roadster.

Just like in the case of the AC Ace's transformation into the Shelby Cobra, Shelby America found that the Ford 260 fit fairly well between the wheelwells – and using a name plucked from Sunbeam's 1926 land speed record car – the Sunbeam Tiger was re-born. Just 7,085 of these spunky little terrors made it out the factory doors – and only 3 of those were Le Mans editions. That made this particular gathering even more special. The capper was when they fired the whole group up for a short cacklefest. What a great racket!

Across from the Tigers were another batch of British vehicles that at times have had more of a rep as grand touring vehicles than all-out sports cars. Nine Aston Martins (top) were lined up with an old Virage at one end and the new V12 Vantage RS at the other. There were V8 Vantage, DB9, DBS and Rapide models as well, but the V12 Vantage was definitely the star of the row, if not the show. Light blue with carbon fiber hood vents – and a giant 6.0L V12 stuffed under the bonnet – it certainly looked like it meant business. The dark grey Rapide next to it looked elegant in comparison, but still sporty...and sexy.

The final club turnout was a group of rear-engine vehicles from the '60s powered by air-cooled aluminum boxer engines. Coupes and convertibles, street cars and race cars, naturally aspirated and turbocharged models with names like Spyder, Monza, Corsa, 500 and Lakewood station wagon. Wait...what? These aren't Porsches? Nope – we're talking about Corvairs here. The late, great Chevy Corvair.

At Cars and Coffee there was a pretty good variety of Corvair models including the aforementioned Corsa, Monza and Monza Spyder, a Corvan 95 Loadside pickup...even a couple of Greenbrier vans. There's just something so endearing about these cars that have the infamous, if ill-founded, reputation for being "Unsafe at any Speed," at least according to Ralph Nader.

The metallic green one with the chromed out 300-horsepower naturally aspirated engine was a good example of what people can do with them if originality isn't a concern and you want to spit in Nader's eye.

It's fun to show up to C & C and find that someone has reserved the featured lot. It's usually a surprise and nine times out of ten it's a good one. But to show up and find three distinct veins of the car hobby, each pulsing with enthusiasm, well that's what makes this show so special to all of us who go.

Direct link to photos from C&C 10/02/10

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