The Drive to Pebble
by Zack Klapman
I’ll skip the pleasantries about how long the Concours d’ Elegance has been going on, or how gorgeous Pebble Beach is (wait, rich people live in a beautiful area? That makes no sense.) Long story short: I’m going up to look at cars and write about anything that catches my eye, and Thad is shooting video for Porsche. We had to bring a good amount of gear and clothes, because after the the show we’ll be shooting 3 episodes of Big Muscle. That meant we couldn’t take the Miata. Oh gee, darn. Thad’s Mini, recently detailed by Larry Kosilla for an upcoming DRIVE CLEAN, and shod with new brakes/rotors/pads/oil/plugs at the hands of ours truly, would be our transportation. On the way up we saw a few nice cars; No idea where there were headed. This is our tale of transport. Look for a post about the show itself late next week.
50ish years ago the Mini Cooper set the bar for compact pack mule, and it still does a great job today. After setting both front seats to “Thaddeus-accommodating gangster lean” we folded the seats down and filled the back. 2 hard camera cases, 2 carry-on sized suitcases, a large Canon backpack, tripod case all fit without rising into our rear-view. Thad laid his fancy clothes (an attempt to blend in amongst the un-baconed, un-tattooed day-walkers) on top. We fit everything we needed, while having as much legroom as the Mini can offer. Although the Fiat 500 we recently
hated tested offers 6 more cu. ft. of cargo space (seats down), I’m not sure where the front seats have to be. Either way, unlike that car, Thad’s head didn’t have to be out the sun roof.
With our stuff packed, we headed out to PCH. If you want a whimsical tale about taking the iconic Highway 1 for its beautiful vistas and its suitable curves on the way to such a magical event, read any other car blog. For us it’s basically, “blah blah the 405 is gonna suck blah blah, same distance anyway, blah blah, ocean smells better than Bakersfield.”
On any road trip of this length, average speed is the name of the game. Maintaining a constant speed can* optimize your MPG, and cut down your travel time significantly. Since we had to drive to Santa Cruz first (past Pebble Beach by an hour), grab the Cobra (replica. Calm down.), and drive back down to Pebble for the Baja Cantina car show, we wanted to make good time. This doesn’t mean speeding recklessly, it just meansmaintaining a safe, decent speed.
Then we got stuck behind this ****** stupid ***** of ***********. *!
This is what a boring person looks like. Notice the unoffensive, unoriginal, cockroach of L.A. Porsche 911 Carrera in a completely acceptable-at-any-dentistry-convention grey color. I don’t understand the allure of a “regular” 911. Never have. I’m not slighting their performance, comfort, heritage or even reliability. But the looks of a 911 don’t excite me. A turbo doesn’t look that different than a 4s now, but knowing it has a turbo and a little wing is enough for me to give it a “yes.” The GT3 and GT2 are obviously the more flamboyant and extroverted of the family, and cars like the 918 are space ship great. But a “normal” 911 has looked more or less the same for too long, and I see too many of them, driven by people that don’t really appreciate what they are.
They, like this man (probably), bought the 911 because it’s the car to buy. He knows everyone will give an approving nod, think he’s someone of stature, and give him the most basic of mandatory praise. It’s a good car, to be sure, but for me they exude as much passion as most of their owners do on the road. Which leads me to why I took this picture: this man was driving 5MPH UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT. Before you come at me with, “Well technically it’s the “limit”, so you can go less than that if you want. Not everyone speeds.” I will say, then why buy a sports car? I know not everyone is a “reckless idiot” who breaks the law on a whim or enjoys canyon carving. I might wonder why you bought a Porsche, but you don’t have to drive the way I drive. But if you impede the flow of traffic. If cars are lining up behind you like the McRib is back, you’re at the drive-thru window, and you just dropped wallet on the ground. If you are so oblivious to the task at hand you’re treating PCH like a school zone, I will voice my hate to you. We saw this same thing happen numerous other times on the drive: people (often in the left lane) oblivious to the fact they were going less the speed of traffic; wrapped up in their own world and giving the same attention to driving they do to shitting, not realizing the speed limit has changed. You’d think that would be important information. Why would you want to get there slower than legally possible?
And this man’s actions just furthered my admitted prejudice against regular 911s. It’s grey. It looks like all the others. It tells you nothing of the person inside. It’s design can be called “classic”, but I would also call it tame. People say the new Passat was designed to be as inoffensive and mass-appealing as possible, but I would say Porsche has been doing that for a long time. And I’m not saying the cars don’t look good, but they don’t look special, or exciting. They are very modern hospital, rather than a museum or concert hall. And their case isn’t helped when some guy goes 5 under on one of the best roads around.
Doctor!? I can’t explain this, I checked the data twice, but this 599 Sa Aperta is driving slowly!
An hour after passing his Porsche-ness, we came upon something blue. Bright blue. Is that? No, maybe it’s a regular 599, in two-tone. No. No. That’s a $520,000~ Ferrari 599 Sa Aperta. And we’re catching it?
We didn’t have to race to catch it. We were actually going about 69MPH (speed limit is 65MPH), and had to slow down to get this picture. Again, you don’t have to drive 1000 MPH if you own a car like this. It was just surprising to see such an incredible car, on a straight road, with no police around, being driven with all the gusto of a 12th grade history teach watching the clock tick on the last day of class. I may be more interested in speeding than many, but watching this guy get passed by families in minivans and trucks was just…odd.If I had 661HP, I’d be arriving at Pebble post haste. Or in jail. Maybe that’s why he was going so slow. But…soooo slow.
Lost in translation
Time for lunch. Thad asked me to search for a restaurant called, “The Hitching Post.” It’s located in Santa Maria, CA. I typed it in. Hm. Odd response. I’ll try again. Same response.
Let me know if you can figure out how Google got those confused.
Aston Martin DB7 Vantage
This was beautiful Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. Of course it’s beautiful; it’s an Aston. The original DB7 made 335HP from a supercharged straight-6, but the V12 Vantage got a 6.0 Liter V12 worth 420HP. Top speed options were 165 or 186MPH, depending on transmission choice. This car was doing what it does best, touring it’s way to a swanky car show.
After getting to Santa Cruz, and then stewing in stop-and-go traffic on the way down (resulting in Thad slightly melting his Converse All Star on the bare aluminum grill top that is the floor of the Cobra), we go to the Baja Cantina car show. Both our phones had died, there was no USB fittings in 1966, so there aren’t any in the car. Google “Baja Cantina Carmel car show” and you will see one of the best shows with a great variety cars. 458 Spyder, Porsche 917 replica, Cobras out the yang, Hotchkis Optima winners, original Ferrari Daytonas, and some guy with a twin-engined hot rod. Everyone friendly, having fun, talking cars, and nerding out. Two guys battled via revving their Shelby replicas, and everyone laughed and smiled. This is where the car fans go. It’s an old-school car show. Parking lot, drinks, BBQ. No pretense, no auctions, no boat shoes.
The only thing we didn’t have was eye protection. Both Thad and I took a bug to the eye that day. Apparently the Cobra’s windshield, like it’s seat belts, is mostly for show.
Thanks to some recycled Burning Man goggles borrowed from my brother, next time I’ll be ready. And look like an idiot.