Old Cars & Saturday Mornings

Posted on July 7, 2010 by  
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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.


Fall Festival in Downtown Los Altos

Posted on October 5, 2009 by  
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Strolling among the arts & craftsHow fun it was to celebrate the Fall, and our unique community. Once again the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Fall Festival over the first weekend in October. The festival featured approximately 160 arts and crafts booths, specialties from local restaurants, a classic car show, musical entertainment and local wineries and micro breweries.

A favorite for young and old alike was the popular Children’s Alley with its annual scarecrow contest, a choo-choo train, Bounce houses and a variety of entertainment and activities geared towards the kids. A number of prizes were awarded for the scarecrow, including Best of Show.

For the bigger kids, the classic car show had some wonderfully restored vehicles. A special car, one which I was able to present the Mayor’s Award, was the first hard top convertible designed for the public. It was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. What an engineering feat it must have been in its time.

All in all, the food was great. The music was fun to dance to. Everyone had fun. Essentially, it was yet another great event in Los Altos.

Children's AlleyPlaytime for kidsGames for kidsArts & CraftsFall FestivalArts & CraftsClassic Car1957 Hard TopClassic Car


Corvette Car Show – Downtown Los Altos

Posted on September 20, 2009 by  
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Corvette PlateThis years Corvette Spectacular was held September 20th on Main Street in Downtown Los Altos. There were over 200 Corvettes of all Make & Models, Live Music, and even a Raffle. The top prize in the raffle happened to be a 37-inch Hitachi LCD HDTV.

It was quite a sight to the all those cars parked under a gorgeously sunny fall day. Soft tops, hard tops, race cars (street legal of course), and highly modified super cars where the main attraction. It was wonderful to see so many families walking along, with the kids pointing with excitement at their favorite car.

Having Santa Clara Corvettes come to Los Altos, and host one of the biggest Corvette Car shows on the West Coast every year is just fantastic. This is quickly becoming a favorite fall event within the community. It’s outdoors, free to the public, well managed and fills the restaurants and shops downtown.

If you missed the show, I hope you can make it next year …