Old Cars & Saturday Mornings

Posted on July 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , , ,

If you’ve passed the parking lot behind Main Street Cafe on State Street near the intersection with Main on a Saturday morning, you’ve probably noticed 10-20 unusual cars parked there.

Some of the cars are so old that few were alive when they were built. Some are so unusual that most people will never see them outside of automotive history books or an auto show.

Those who own these cars meet just about every weekend for what’s become a tradition in the downtown village. The group, started with a casual conversation at the Los Altos Fall Festival’s annual car show nearly 10 years ago.

The only objective was to share their love of classic, collectible and just plain unusual cars – of which there seemed to be a great many around Los Altos. Someone had noticed that the back parking lot of the cafe (which sits under the Town Crier’s office) was usually empty early Saturday mornings, and the shop had an area in back where they could meet over coffee and share information about the cars.

To wander through the parking lot on any given Saturday is to see the widest range of automobiles that anyone can imagine. Sometimes the vintage can span 100 years … you might stumble upon a 1904 Franklin with its air-cooled two-cylinder engine and crank starter at one end of the lot, a new Dodge Viper or Ferrari super car at the other.

One of the regulars has driven his Peel, the smallest road-legal four-wheel production car ever built and roughly one-quarter the length of one of the Packards or Cadillacs that frequently makes an appearance.

And as everyone insists, this is not a contest among show vehicles. One of the regular cars is a Pierce-Arrow from the mid-1930s, jointly owned by three of the regulars, that won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the most prestigious automobile show in the country. But one of its owners might just as likely drive up in a running, but completely un-restored, Jaguar XK120, parking it next to an equally rusty but equally dependable old Dodge step-side pickup truck or a Lancia in similar condition.

Conversations often flow into nostalgia, remembering what it was like in a world of dial telephones, manual typewriters and gas pumps at service stations with a bell that rang when you drove in and a fill-up that came with a check of oil, water and tire pressure. However, the group might just as often compare features on new iPhones or discuss the ins and outs of setting up a home Wi-Fi system.

If you’ve got a newer or older car that’s the slightest bit out of the ordinary, you should drop by with it on a Saturday morning and join in the fun. If it’s not running, come anyways as someone might be able to offer some advice on how to get it back out on the road.

And if you’re just downtown on a Saturday morning – between 9 and 11 a.m. – stop by and look at the cars. Show them to your children to help them understand the evolution of technology, or just to tell them what it was like when mom and dad, or grandma and granddad, drove a car just like this one. They guarantee you’ll be welcomed, and there’s never an admission charge or dues to be collected.

Note: This is a slightly edited version of a recent article, written by Gary and Genie Anderson for the Los Altos Town Crier.



Leave a Reply