Nine days to go…
I collected The Egg from my wonderful mechanic, Ed “The Egg Doctor” Rutherford at Klasse 356 a couple of weeks ago, and we flew home. A full bill of health for the safety inspection, and some tightening of the throttle has given her more pick-up, and even better; it’s instant. The car will happily cruise at 80mph (apparently), but the first few seconds from standing were always a little lackadaisical. It felt as if she was considering, rather than committing to, the idea of forward motion. Not any more….now, it’s literally pedal to the metal and catch me if you can!!
So, with little left to do but wash, polish and give my tool kit a quick re-stock; I’m happily counting the days.
2014 was a good year to be driving in Los Angeles. Which may sound like an oxymoron, especially if you’re familiar with the 405, but thanks to Petrolicious (www.petrolicious.com), we had a couple of fantastic excursions around and out of the city.
I supplied the car, my good friend Kelly provided the invitation and navigation for the first event “Drive Tastefully: Malibu rally”….which started at a strip mall on the back side of Pacific Palisades, and gave early morning coffee drinkers something far more interesting than a croissant to enjoy with their beverages. An eclectic mix of cars, that included Ferraris, Alfas, Porsches and even a late 80’s Countach. After a gorgeous morning investigating the canyons, we found ourselves at the Malibu Family wines vineyard for a relaxing brunch. The route had been exciting enough to ensure everyone was hungry, but even better – a chance to hang out with fellow Angelenos and talk about driving in a way that didn’t remind me of an SNL skit.
The best part? It was a chance to meet and thank the team behind Petrolicious. In a relatively short time, they’ve become one of the most interesting and innovative web magazines focused on cars. Clearly everyone involved is an enthusiast, and they bring that attitude with them to all aspects of their organization.
A few months later, and their second event. This time, “Drive Tastefully: Paramount Ranch”. Another early start, however I was to be travelling solo due to the fact I couldn’t beg, coerce or bribe any of the usual local suspects to meet me so early on a cool October morning. Their loss!!
A crisp start to the day, heading off to Malibu Outpost by way of the 101 & then cross country through the canyons. I found myself following a fabulous 2CV for part of the journey and was even happier to find it in the car park as I wandered around with my coffee. After a few catch up conversations it was time to review our driving instructions and then off to Ojai.
I quickly realized there a some key issues of driving without a navigator, especially when you have a gearstick and nowhere to easily stick the instructions for ease of reference. Fortunately I know the Malibu canyon roads reasonably well, so only a cursory glance back to the paperwork seemed necessary….until I found myself heading back down towards the ocean and not inwards as intended. Pulling up to the side of the “reasonably quiet as it’s still early on a Sunday” PCH, I pulled out my phone and reviewed the instructions again. With no reception in the car, I looked into my rear view mirror before opening the door, only to find a number of cars (and drivers holding their phones forlornly to the sky) parked behind me. Apparently the directions were easier to misunderstand, and none of the available mobile carriers offer any coverage down by the sea!
We all compared notes, and realised that whatever collective mistake we’d made could be rectified by heading back the way we’d come until the first turning opportunity presented itself. I opted to position myself in the middle of this group, as I was the only solo driver and wanted to take full advantage of someone else’s navigator this time!
Meandering, wandering, cornering and throwing our way around the hills of Malibu and then on towards Moorpark and then further on towards Ojai. It was a perfect day to drive and even better, I found myself back on the route I’d taken the previous summer for a short getaway to Santa Barbara. Route 118 took us through agricultural land, beautiful scenery, and the perfect driving section of road known as Grimes Canyon. Twists and turns, plus the gorgeous colours of sandstone accompanied our merry band of travelers, and then finally we came into Santa Paula.
At this point our now successful navigation turned into an episode of wacky races. Despite all of us having the same directions, there were at least four different interpretations of which way we should be going, again. Cars headed north, south, east and west along the two main streets for a while, until the popular vote agreed on a direction and we found ourselves back en route to Ojai.
Reaching our final destination for the first part of the event, we all pulled into or around a garage forecourt. Petrol pumps worked overtime as conversations and cameras surrounded an extraordinarily stunning orange Porsche 906. From Ojai we were to head back towards LA, ending at Paramount Ranch, & I decided the best way to continue the journey would be to follow the orange beastie for as long as my much smaller engine would allow. Fortunately the first couple of miles were through the town, so my acceleration requirements were limited; but no sooner did we reach the open road again and VROOM, in a throaty explosion of horsepower, it disappeared.
Sixty happy miles later, I pulled into Paramount Ranch.
In the late twenties, Paramount Pictures purchased 2,400 acres for use as a “movie ranch”, and it’s been featured in numerous well known and not so well known Westerns. After World War II the studio sold the property off as parcels to private investors. In 1952 Bill Hertz bought 326 acres that still bear the Paramount name, and turned it into a western town. Open to the public, and available for various events, it’s also a great reminder of our California cowboy history.
There were cars everywhere! A cornucopia of colour, carburetors and marques parked in every available space, providing a great juxtaposition to an environment that would have happily provided home to a very different kind of horses.
After lunch (the perfect combination of carbs and more carbs – all that’s needed to refuel the internal engine), the cars were reorganized into a combination of years and marques, for more great photographs to be taken and everyone to agree it was another fabulous day.