There's ample opportunity to show off your car here in Southern California. The weather's usually nice and there are car shows up and down the coast, each designed for a different kind of car. There's a classic car show in Huntington Beach, an exotic car show in Marina Del Rey, and my personal favorite, the Crystal Cove show, where you can bring just about anything that's out of the ordinary and fit right in. I've seen Ferrari F40LMs, Noble M12s, a McLaren F1 and even a bona fide '73 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.8RSR. Even Carroll Shelby rolled up in an original GT500 one day. Ford GTs, Lamborghini Gallardos, and Ferrari F430s are a dime a dozen.
I try to make it to the Crystal Cove show as often as possible-it starts so damn early that it's almost always inconceivable to actually make it, though. I guess such an early start time filters out the jackasses too hung-over to roll out of bed at six in the morning. But hey, I'm not throwing stones-I barely make it once every couple of months.
Anyway, the other thing that the crack of dawn guarantees is that people who really love cars are going to be in attendance. We're there to satisfy a craving worse than nicotine; we need to see unique sculptures with raspy engines, straight-cut gearboxes and five-point harnesses. We need to see what each person in attendance refers to as their pride and joy. And Crystal Cove is a way to do that in gratuitous excess. It's an assault on the senses that puts enough gas in a car nerd's tank to last until the craving hits again.
The problem with anything cool, though, is that it runs the risk of eventually becoming trendy, and when that happens, hundreds of wannabes flock like crows to road kill. These people don't understand the nature of the event, the passion involved, or the kind of dedication it takes to build and care for many of the cars that sit in the special-for-a-morning parking lot. Nope, they come because the car show has become the thing to do on an early morning. They couldn't tell you the difference between a pushrod and a lightning rod, but they're happy to pose in vintage racing gear with latte in hand.
Sadly, many of these people are rich enough to afford expensive exotica, and they do end up bringing it along. It's never anything rare or unique-usually Murcielagos, Diablos and the like. These poseurs can easily be picked out because they never walk more than, say, 15 feet from their own cars. They don't care about any of the other machines at the event. Hell, they don't even care about their own cars except that their machinery will hopefully draw attention to the owners.
I know I complain a lot, and I really wasn't going to let this problem bother me. I'm usually able to filter out the jackholes and just have a good time. But my patience found its abrupt end when a baby blue Lamborghini with chrome wheels and a neon orange interior with matching brakes showed up with a Police Siren blaring, Weeeeeeeoooooooow! Weeeeeeeeoooooow! Weeeeeeeeoooooow! If a world-class knucklehead like this guy has discovered our sacred gathering, the whole world may as well know, because it ain't gonna get any worse than him.
Now, let me just say that Volkswagen has already summed it up better than I can with their latest "Low Ego Emissions" commercials, in which braggadocios drive around with megaphones, announcing their insecurities and shortcomings. Some of the more memorable statements: "Because daddy never hugged me," and "Because I make more money than you".
On the other side of the parking lot, a muscle-shirt man in a chrome-wheeled Diablo Spyder has finally finished backing into a spot, after blipping the engine to about 11 million rpm several dozen times. Next to him, wifey backs the Bentley in and pops out with poodle in hand.
I don't know why Volkswagen went to the trouble of hiring extras or buying props for the commercial.James TateAssociate Senior Editor