SAN MARINO, CALIFORNIA – We love Pebble Beach, Villa d’Este, Amelia Island and Chantilly just as much as the next incorrigible petrolheads, but sometimes there’s no substitute for rolling out of bed on a Sunday and lazing about your local car show.
SoCal auto enthusiasts were treated to an eclectic spread of four-wheeled exotica at this year’s San Marino Motor Classic, held at a bucolic park nestled within this tony LA suburb. Emcee’d by automotive personalities Dave Kunz and Ed Justice, Jr., the seventh annual event raised over $300,000 for the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA, the Rotary Club of San Marino, and the USC Trojan Marching Band. Show officials say the event has produced $1.6 million for various charities to date.
This year’s June 11 gathering saw a broad variety of vehicles arrayed under a pleasantly cloudy sky, keeping the attendees — both human and machine — from overheating. With nearly 200 cars separated among 42 classes, there was never a dull visual or auditory moment while roaming Lacy Park’s 30 acres of lawns. Brass and nickel era fans laid their eyes on everything from a La Bestioni Rusty One to a Pope Hartfield 9 Passenger; a particularly whimsical Thomas Model 18 complete with a rattan parasol holder took top honors. 1930s and 1940s-era American classics like Cadillacs, Duesenbergs, Packards and Pierce-Arrows were well-represented, as were big block American muscle cars and air-cooled Porsche 356s and 911s.
The Bantam class presented pocket-sized rides that should have been charged discounted entry fees for their Lilliputian footprints, while the triple pointed star offerings included 280SLs, 190SLs, a candy shop of 200 and 300-series sedans and cabriolets, and 300SLs (an alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing snagged the Best in Show – Post War award). Heavyweights from the Nethercutt and Mullin collections duked it out across several categories, though the pre-war Best in Show prize went to Richard Atwell’s 1938 Delahaye Model 135 Roadster by Chapron. Incidentally, Peter & Merle Mullin did collect a National Automotive Heritage Award for their elegant 1937 Delage D8-120 Cabriolet by Chapron.
It wouldn’t be a Southern California car show without a smattering of supercars, and the largest array on show came from the private collection of jewelry and watch maven David Lee, who displayed everything from a 1964 Ferrari GT250 Lusso Competizione (which won “Most Significant Ferrari”) to a 2014 Pagani Huayra, a 1967 Ferrari GTB/4 2S, and a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari. Not to be outshadowed by the Italians were dozens of Aston Martins, Jaguars, MGs, Morgans and Triumphs.
The San Marino Motor Classic satisfied on a simple but gratifying level, offering the best of what we love about small car shows — grin-inducing sheetmetal, friendly crowds, and a touch of good natured competition.