Photos by Larry Edsall
Dana Mecum told me the other day that people who work within the classic car industry tend to forget that while it is the cars that draw people into the hobby, it is the people they meet that keep them actively involved.
“I see talk and interviews of the boom in the hobby and the industry and people credit it to a lot of different things,” said Mecum, who owns Mecum Auctions. “But what I haven’t seen mentioned is what I think is the biggest reason for the growth — the social and entertainment value.
“People come [to auctions] not only to buy and sell but to see their friends. There’s a social aspect, a camaraderie.”
I got to experience some of that camaraderie yesterday during at Stephanie and Bud’s 13th annual New Year’s Day Drive.
Bud is a former vintage racer who still restores and drives and shows sports cars. Stephanie may not turn wrenches, but in her own ways she’s as active in the hobby as he is. Each New Year’s Day, they invite a bunch of old and new friends who also have classic or exotic cars to assemble for a continental breakfast in Bud’s Car Room — his office in which his desk is surrounded on three sides by part of his collection of sports car.
After breakfast, and once Stephanie gets people to stop talking to each other for a few minutes, everyone climbs into their cars and heads west on a specified route through cactus-studded desert to Wickenburg for lunch at Rancho de los Caballeros, a historic Western-style resort.
The New Year’s Day Drive may have started as an alternative to sitting around and watching all the college football bowl games, but after more than a dozen years people pretty much have forgotten about those games. They’d rather talk cars and drive them across the desert and then talk some more over lunch tables. And then drive those cars back home.
Speaking of the drive, it turns out that New Year’s Day morning is a great time to exercise your classic or exotic car. Or any other car for that matter. I discovered this a couple of decades ago when I worked at AutoWeek magazine. Each New Year’s Eve, I snatch something cool out of our test fleet so I could drive it with, let’s call it enthusiasm the following day.
Why? Because I realized the drunks are still sleeping off their New Year’s Eve hangovers (and for the most part the police who had been keeping a eye on them are sleeping in as well). Meanwhile, the football fans are perched in front of their televisions, watching the Rose Parade and enjoying a pre-game indoor tailgating.
And, New Year’s Day being a holiday, the semis aren’t out and about. All of which means the roads are empty, except for us.
Yesterday, us included perhaps half a dozen Ferraris — including a 328 GTS, a Testarossa and even a Daytona — a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL cabriolet, a 1960 Jaguar 150 S, a few Porsches (one of them the 1962 Porsche 356 S coupe owned by fellow ClassicCars.com Blog writer Bob Golfen). a 1972 Citroen DS 21, a couple of Lamborghinis, a Lister, a Corvette, and my friend John Priddy’s 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza in which I got to ride along.
Cars and Coffee gatherings have become a national classic car phenomenon. Wouldn’t it be nice if the same thing happened across the country with New Year’s Day Drives?