My wife and I just returned from a long weekend (5 day) trip to Los Angeles and its surrounding environs, primarily to visit her brother, whom we see all too infrequently. For me, it was another chance to immerse myself in southern California car culture. As a lifelong resident of the NY/NJ metro area, California has always been a car lover’s heaven. From my first visit here in 1977, through many subsequent business and personal trips, I have been in awe of “the land where cars don’t rust”. Walking down the street is analogous to attending an old car show back east. Car models which disappeared from my local streets eons ago have always seemed to be in plentiful supply in the Golden State.
Except this time, it was different. Perhaps because we stayed in a more concentrated and wealthy area (West Hollywood and Beverly Hills), the number of old daily drivers (informally defined by me as cars and trucks between 15 and 30 years old) was low. What stood out more was the incredible number of high-end cars. I’m not speaking of Mercedes Benzes, which were as common as Toyotas and Hondas are at home. I’m referring to Rolls Royces (3 while sitting in one restaurant), Ferraris (so common that people don’t turn their heads), Teslas (easily a dozen+ per day), BMW i8s, and Audi R8s. Topping this list was a Bugatti Veyron being driven down Sunset Blvd. Although I’ve seen the car at car shows, this was the first time I saw one moving under its own power on a public thoroughfare.
On Sunday, we drove to the charming shore town of Ventura (memorialized in the song “Ventura Highway” by America). As it was a weekend, I had the opportunity to see vehicles which likely were taken out for cruising. Parked on the street were a Ford Econoline COE (cab-over-engine) pickup, a Porsche 914, and a 1968 Cadillac convertible. Cruising the streets were two ’55 Chevrolets, several VW bugs (kids, these were the original Beetles with rear-mounted air-cooled engines), and a Toyota Land Cruiser which, in spite of its original-looking CA plate, disproved my idea that these things don’t suffer from the tin worm out here.
Porsche 914 in Ventura CA
There were other cars to be found, although opportunities to photograph them were slim as we always seemed to be in a vehicle and on the go ourselves. Around the corner from my brother-in-law’s apartment was this gorgeous Airstream trailer, patiently waiting until it was time to hit the road again. One block from there was a Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Its paint was shot but its sheet metal looked solid. It caught my eye because I had just seen one sell in Atlantic City less than a month ago. And on Catalina Island was a VW Transporter, almost as rusty as the Toyota. I guess living near the ocean will eventually take its toll, even here.
While there were other vehicles of interest to be seen, there was no chance to photograph them all. Alas, the long weekend came to an end all too quickly. I’m back home in NJ, where the weatherman is predicting several inches of snow for the first day of spring! Hmm, need to plan that return visit to L.A.
All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.