Parking While Awesome – The Newest “Cars & Coffee”
While the Cars & Coffee meet held at Canepa Design is the new king of early Saturday morning meets ever since the original Irvine gathering got shut down, it only runs half the year, from March to October. Everybody knows California weather is good all year long, so what are we supposed to do in winter?
Hold our own meet, of course! Well, actually I had nothing to do with this, although I am good friends with the organizers. They call themselves “Driving While Awesome” and if you have some time, you should check out their website. And if you have a lot of time, you should check out their podcast.
Anyway, I think it was a resounding success for a first meet, for one simple reason: variety. What makes these “C&C” events so fun is seeing all kinds of different cars. You expect to see everything: 911’s, hot rods, classic cars, supercars, tuner cars, and random crap, right? It was all there at the first DWA C&C.
LS swap all the things! So let’s begin the roll call with with something LS-swapped—Drew’s Volvo V90. It blows my mind that these engines make so much power and are so efficient. All while sounding awesome and being incredibly reliable. And with the new electronic exhaust cutout, I’m struggling to think of a downside to this setup over the straight six that originally powered this car. Time to hit up a road course!
Gotta have some old VW buses, right?
Although I guess this Type 2 is technically not a bus, eh?
This Syncro looked like it had seen some action.
Any of the Tri-Five Chevys would have been perfect, but the fact that it was a ’57 Bel Air two-door hardtop–perhaps the absolute most iconic year, trim level, and body style–was especially poignant.
And how about something that we never got in this country? Present and accounted for, courtesy of this Evo 6.5 Tommi Makinen Edition.
Air-cooled 911’s? Of course.
I couldn’t resist playing with that shadow!
Modern supercars were present too, like this RUF RGT…
…and its younger cousin, the 991 GT3 RS.
What about a hot rod or something pre-war?
Got that covered with this 1938 Ford Woody.
One cool thing about DWA is their “project car” series. That whole idea has become kind of a fad now (hell, even Speedhunters has staff project car features), but it’s definitely still fun. It’s so much more interesting to follow along with a build rather than simply be presented with a “finished” product. This Euro-spec 1984 BMW 323i is the latest addition to the DWA project car stable. With no sunroof, crank windows, and a dogleg manual gearbox, this definitely has the right funky attitude.
Lane’s 944 is another one of the DWA cars. His latest project was an “RS” console delete with a lightweight stereo replacement.
Ah yes, the black sheep of the Civic Si family. It’s almost like they sabotaged this car to say “See! Americans hate hatchbacks! So coupes and sedans it shall be.” If this car had a proper K20 that revved to 8000, it would be a cult classic. Instead, it just begs for an engine swap.
Whatever, I still think they’re pretty cool, although I haven’t actually driven an Si from this generation. An interesting side note is that the ’02-03 was 4×100 and the ’04-05 was 5×114.3; this car is on Evo wheels so it must have a conversion.
Sometimes you just point and shoot. I don’t really know anything at all about these Triumphs, but I love all the cool details, from the silver steelies to the front air dam to the bullet mirrors. Even the government-mandated reflectors have an interesting design.
It’s totally normal to want to feel how a car shifts, right? I jumped into a ’79 911 and felt the 915 gearbox, and Art really wanted to see what this TR6 was like.
This 2002 was pretty cool.
Especially because of the M42 swap from a 1991 318is. A nice amount of power in a reliable, OEM+ package. By the way, apparently that header is horrible and it’s being replaced very soon.
Next to that was Ruben’s GTS4 E46 M3 race car. Yup, that’s a full on race car that is still technically street legal.
The funny thing is that it’s actually extremely quiet! He put the stock exhaust back on to lose a few ponies, because his engine build was a little too strong for his class.
After that, we hit the road for our pilgrimage to the Summit Store. The group spread out pretty quickly, but I took the opportunity to grab some rolling shots from the back of Drew’s Volvo. Unfortunately we didn’t plan ahead with something to hold the hatch up, so I shot from the side windows.
I’ve never really tried to do rolling shots, and it was an interesting experience. While fairly “easy” from a photography perspective, I realized that there needs to be some aspect of directing involved.
These are both narrow body cars, but check out how much it grew in width over one generation.
But you don’t know wide until you see this thing. I never really liked the look of the GT3 RS when I was looking at it on the internet. But when I saw it in person, it all made sense.
Highway 17 was pretty torn up and nasty for a while, but a recent repaving project has made it smooth an extremely satisfying to drive. The only problem? It’s “cop heaven” (as Art likes to say), which is on one hand infuriating, but also totally understandable; everybody thinks they’re Senna, right up until they understeer their Camry into the center median.
We, however, were simply out for a Saturday cruise amongst the other hoards of weekend traffic. Don’t forget that this sexy snake of tarmac is also the main artery between San Jose and the Pacific Ocean.
The summit is the only place that doesn’t have a center median. Seems hard to believe the entire road used to be like that. They began to add metal barriers in the 70’s and then concrete throughout the 80’s.
Note that now we’re on the other side of the mountain, and the newest revisions haven’t yet caught up. The pavement isn’t bad over here, so it’s not a big deal, but it is noticeably older. The big difference is the center median; it’s basically a series of old jersey barriers on this side, whereas the renovated sections get a more attractively designed permanent wall (see above). Okay, enough of the highway stuff, check out that Lava Orange GT3 RS!
Strange as the colors might look there, that’s reality. Ocean Blue Metallic is a very light blue where the sun hits it, mostly a medium blue in direct light, navy blue in indirect light, and then totally purple at oblique angles.
Then we cruised along Summit Road, which can best be described as meandering. It’s not really twisty as such, but it is a curvy road. Although you might think of the limit as being “only” 35 miles per hour, the scenery and elevation make it interesting enough to be an ideal cruising road: you could roll casually in anything from a Model A to a Model X and feel right at home.
Even though cars can cruise at 40-45 without attracting the ire of local authorities, bicycles are free to engage their top speed, which unfortunately is much lower than the 35 MPH Speed Limit even at the best of times. When faced with an obstacle, such as any slight incline, that top speed drops drastically.
I was very surprised the other day when I opened up my BBC World News app to read about something that happened very close to where I work. A Mountain View police officer was riding along on his motorcycle and noticed a huge line of backed up traffic. When he worked his way up to the front, he saw the source of the calamity: there was a Google self-driving car, going 24 in a 35. Heroically, MVPD pulled over the offending car (no word on whether Google has written an algorithm that recognizes when it’s being pulled over and acts accordingly) and “educated the operators about impeding traffic.” Google’s excuse? Their cars’ speed is capped to 25 for safety reasons. In other words, “Suck it, we’ll go as slow as we want and you have to deal with it.” Kind of painful, isn’t it?
That’s how I feel about bicycles on narrow roads. While I’m free to go 35 miles per hour, even around a turn or up a hill, bicycles can struggle to make even ten miles per hour at times. It would be considered pretty unsafe and anti-social to pilot a motor vehicle at speeds that aren’t even befitting a horse, so why is it acceptable for cyclists to crawl up narrow, steep roads with blind turns at single digit speeds?
Anyway, a few minutes later we arrived at the Summit Store. We drove around the parking lot, where there was actually a surprising amount of cars. Since we had more cars than usual, a plan was hatched to park all the Porsches down in front. Art jumped out and cleared the (empty) trash cans, while Hunter got Ruben’s 964 ready.
Finally, we saw the cyclists we’d passed. However, after we arrived a much larger gathering of people wearing helmets and neon spandex took over the entire Summit Store for a big lunch party.
Okay, no long hood or 996, but otherwise it was a pretty complete lineup of 911’s.
You know what, it’s true: there really is no substitute for a 911.
Ah, the good ol’ Summit Center. They make some damn good sandwiches in there.
I love how the V90 is just lurking in the background, so spooky and Swedish.
Not a grey or silver car in sight. Long live colors!
Okay, that’s it for this month’s coverage. The next one is December 12th; we hope to see you there! Follow @drivingwhileawesome on Instagram for all the juicy details (and much more, of course).