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San Clemente Journal

Cars & Coffee at the San Clemente Outlets

May 22, 2019 10:21AM ● By Donia Moore
by Donia Moore

Looking for something different
to do on a Saturday morning? Come kick some tires and talk “car” at South OC Cars and Coffee at the Outlets in San Clemente. This car show is unique. No fancy registration fees, no costly entrance tickets – if you have a car you think is cool, drive it on down and showcase it at this popular parking lot near Ruby’s restaurant. 
Simon Wehr and his son James, co-founders of the weekly event.

 No cars are allowed in until 8:30am, so if you get there early you may see an amazing mix of glamorous Lamborghinis and Ferraris, restored antique Jaguars, awesome Astin Martins and creatively rebuilt Chevy Vans, Volvos and VWs parading into place in the show parking lot. This happens every Saturday, rain or shine, and this Saturday show of South coast OC Cars and Coffee is getting bigger and bigger.

Car Clubs, Aussie Style
Eight years ago, Simon Wehr and his son James relocated from the “land down under” and started connecting with their gear head soul mates. A cup of coffee, a kick of the tires, and they were off on their hobby venture to provide car lovers with a place they could show off their four-wheeled treasures. “We had no idea how popular the South OC Cars and Coffee would become,” they remarked. 

Although the venue has changed a few times, it appears that they have finally found the right formula for their special mix in San Clemente, and it’s not unusual to have 500-600 cars at the show. Every week! 

The car show moved from its original home in Irvine to Aliso Viejo, which proved to be a better location as it was drawing at least 100 cars from all over Orange County every Saturday. To help the new venue boost its numbers, Wehr began to organize drives up to Aliso Viejo. The cruises became a popular way to spend Saturday evening for many car enthusiasts. But the car show was soon outgrowing its location again. 

Wehr decided to host 50-mile Saturday evening cruises (like they do in his homeland of Australia) ... and what better location to start than the brand new Outlets at San Clemente. The Outlets were very supportive and the cruises were a huge success and included coastal drives to Long Beach and Del Mar and mountain drives to Old Town Temecula. 
Many new and exotic dealers and manufacturers began bringing their latest offerings – Jaguar Mission Viejo, August Luxury Automotive, McClaren, Land Rover, Astin Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini. But the fun didn’t stop there and neither did the creativity.

Hot Shots and Rat Rods?
Rat rods are still alive and rolling out of El Toro High School’s Auto Shop. Amidst the elegant Lamborghinis and Ferraris, the rugged Range Rovers, and the sleek Jaguars, teacher Casey Moir and a host of ET Hotshots proudly drove their creation into the parking lot of San Clemente’s Cars and Coffee car show recently. Five years and hundreds of student hours brought this creation to life. Signed by all the students who worked on it, the “rust bucket” is a sort of mobile high school year-book. 

This 1964 Chevy van sports a surprise; not under the hood where you might expect it but inside the heavily rusted out body. Wrenches for door handles, no roof, no floor and a huge engine that gives off a satisfying roar when it revs up, keep you guessing whether it’s really going to run. But the old girl almost kicks up her heels when the ignition turns over. And Slims Fabrication of Lake Forest is credited with helping with the special framework to support the beast. 

Auto Shop instructor Moir has 135 students a day go through his classes, and more and more of them are girls. “Girls make the best supervisors,” he said recently. “They know how the restoration is supposed to go and they are perfectionists. When the boys bring in a part that’s been rebuilt and it’s not perfect, the girls send them back to do it right.”
Although you might think this would cause some tension, Moir insists that the boys almost always bow to the girls’ decisions and redo the part with only a little grumbling.
Another recent Show favorite was the 1987 240 Volvo Station Wagon owned by Chase Hallam. Chase has a creative and unusual vision for the Volvo’s exterior. Instead of a trendy paint job, Chris is covering front fenders with brightly colored stickers of cartoon heroes, which he will then cover with clear coat to protect them.

Offroading with a Lamborghini?
Moving into the upper echelons of  “car show go,” August Luxury Motors of British Columbia displays two of their most popular sports car stars. Purchased or leased, patrons sacrifice comfort for style and speed in the company’s Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Their Canadian entertainment company Daily Driven Exotics, with offices in Los Angeles, produces thrilling footage of Lambos and Ferrs in a series of videos highlighting their off road and street capabilities. If you’ve never seen a Lamborghini off roading, you are up for an experience. Daily Driven brought two of its sports car stars to the Cars and Coffee and Car Show and guests were encouraged to get up close and personal with them for photo ops.

Saturday mornings at South OC Cars and Coffee at the Outlets of San Clemente … another great way to spend a Saturday morning in our  Village by the Sea.