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Classic cars roll through La Jolla

Classic car enthusiasts near and far are getting revved up about the fourth annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic. Held Sunday, Jan. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at La Jolla’s Ellen Brown Scripps Park, the Classic will feature about 140 vintage vehicles.

“It’s a great family day, everybody loves classic cars - moms, dads, kids,” said Chuck Spielman, who owns a Sorrento Valley classic car sales service and restoration business. “It gives a lot of people in La Jolla and the surrounding area a chance to come out and see some really great cars.”

“It’s a wonderful venue, a wonderful day in the park,” agreed car buff Neal Wichard, who will be exhibiting his 289 Shelby Cobra at the Jan. 13 event. “It’s very Norman Rockwellish.”

The theme for this year’s free car classic event is Carriages & Classics. It will feature a special tribute to pre-1916 horseless carriages, as well as high line motor cars manufactured during the ‘20s through the ‘50s which are designated “classics” by the Classic Car Club of America. Over the past four years, the La Jolla Motor Car Classic has paid tribute to Italian marques, British marques, Woodies and the classics of the ‘50s.

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The annual car classic is hosted by Promote La Jolla, Inc., the community’s Business Improvement District (BID). The origin of the automotive exhibition goes back to 2004 when local merchants were searching for an attraction that would draw crowds and expose them to the seaside Village’s exquisite cuisine, exceptional boutique shopping and incomparable coastal views.

“One of our missions is to hold special events,” noted Tiffany Sherer, Promote La Jolla’s executive director. “We were looking for an event to bring people to the Village during traditionally slower times of the year. We chose January as a good time to bring people here because the weather is usually good and people on a sunny, winter day could come to the car show, then stay after and have lunch or dinner. It was a way for them to extend their day here in La Jolla.”

The La Jolla Motor Car Classic offers car aficionados the opportunity to see up-close-and-personal some of the most coveted - and expensive - vehicles in the world. This year’s collection highlights unique pre-1916, hand-cranked carriage coachwork automobiles made by visionary pioneers that featured gas lights and were elaborately decorated with brass. The Jan. 13th automotive happening will also spotlight “classics” from the 1920’s through the 1950’s which were built in limited production numbers and at the time of their creation were expensive, representing the pinnacle of engineering, styling and design for their era. Event sponsors are proud to showcase many of these historically significant and brilliantly maintained automobiles.

The La Jolla Motor Car Classic will highlight many juried classes of automobiles including Speedsters, Roadsters, Muscle cars, Italian marques, British marques and pre- and post-war models along with exotic sports cars. They will be judged in 10 categories.

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Vintage vehicles to be on display will include a 1967 Austin Healey Roadster, a 1939 Packard 4-door Sedan, several Rolls Royces from different eras, a 1957 Ford T-Bird Convertible, a 1936 Cadillac 4-door convertible, a 1933 Chevy Master Roadster, a 1950 Bentley, a 1946 Super Deluxe Woodie Wagon, a 1957 Bel-air Chevy 2-door hard top, a 1967 Chevy Corvette 427 Stingray Roadster, a 1952 Jaguar XK 120, a 1955 Triump TR-2 Sports Car, a 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SL CPE, a 1967 Lamborghini 400 GT2 + 2 By Touring, a 1966 Pontiac Lemans Drag Race, a 1969 Lotus twin Cam Super 7 and a 1963 Sabra Sports Two Passenger convertible.

Spielman noted the La Jolla event started out with mostly just a local crowd of collectors, but has grown every year in every way. “Now we’ve got entrants further afield than we ever thought we would get,” he said. “People really like the show and value it.”

Spielman added the La Jolla Motor Car Classic has become yet another link in a huge regionwide circuit of antique car shows, the most prominent of which is the invitation-only Concours de Elegance held every August in Pebble Beach, California featuring 175 cars.

Though newly minted, Spielman thinks La Jolla’s car classic, for a number of reasons, has the potential to attain even greater prominence among car collectors than it already enjoys. “The venue is right on the ocean,” he noted, “and it’s gotten to be a really fabulous show because we’ve broadened the class range every year to include really early cars, right up through beautiful European cars.”

The biggest reason car buff Neal Wichard wouldn’t miss the annual La Jolla car classic, which is rapidly becoming one of the Jewel’s signature social events, is a personal one. “To me it’s like a treasure hunt,” he said. “Finding something old with history somewhere, bringing it back to life, I enjoy that aspect of it. To me it’s all about the hunt, the camaraderie of car collectors.”

Wichard agreed with Spielman that the car classic’s collection improves qualitatively each year. “It’s an eclectic mix of different cars that are pretty interesting to the eye, very catchy,” he said. “It’s a high-quality event that promotes La Jolla that Promote La Jolla is trying to evolve here. There’s a whole car culture that we need to help reach out to. There’s a lot of interest in the event.”

Promote La Jolla’s Sherer said the BID has an agreement with city Parks and Recreation Department wherein it pays for fertilization and aeration of historic Scripps Park after the car classic event. “We donate funds to make that happen,” she said. “The park is for all of us, merchants, residents, visitors. It’s an important aspect to leave the park almost better than it was before we got there.”

The Monarch School in San Diego will be the beneficiary of the 2008 La Jolla Motorcar Classic at the Cove. Founded in 1988, Monarch School and its committed team of teachers, administrators and volunteers is dedicated to providing homeless and at-risk children with an accredited education while caring for their basic needs. Today, more than 100 kids between the ages of 7 and 18 are enrolled at Monarch School.

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For more information about the La Jolla Motor Car Classic, call (619) 233-5008 or visit www.lajollabythesea.com.