Yes, it's true. Orange Countians have a deep and abiding love affair with cars-whether they're fast, exotic or classic. Maybe it's because the county's growth exploded at the same time as America's post-war enthusiasm for cars and highways. Or maybe, for nearly a century, there's been nothing more inviting to Southern California motorists than putting the top down and cruising down Pacific Coast Highway on a gorgeous day. Whatever the reason, OC is a magnet for car enthusiasts-and for the design divisions of auto companies looking to stay ahead of the trends. The Orange County car shows are large in number, featuring styles and eras of every sort.
Here are a few places you can tap into OC's car culture:
Museums: At the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin, you can peruse an impressive $30 million collection of historical, classic, rare and exotic cars. And, while the Lyon Air Museum houses great WWII era planes, it also houses rare and beautifully-restored automobiles and motorcycles of the era.
Might as well be a Museum: Crevier Classic Cars grew out of a local car dealer's interest in helping owners of classic cars find an appropriate place to store them; to gather with other collectors; and to share them with the public. It's tucked away in a light industrial area in Costa Mesa, not far from John Wayne Airport and the Lyon Air Museum. Open to the public daily.
Great Places to Admire and Appreciate Great Cars:
Annual Orange Plaza Car Show, Old Towne Orange (April)
Muckenthaler Motor Festival, Fullerton (May)
Dana Point Concours d'Elegance, Dana Point (June)
Coastline Car Classic, Corona del Mar (September)
Cruisin' for A Cure, OC Fair & Expo Center, Costa Mesa (September)
Laguna Beach Classic Car Show, Laguna Beach (October)
A Place to Snag Your Own Piece of Auto History: Be sure to hit town in June to participate in the huge Barrett-Jackson Collectors Car Auction that takes place on the OC Fair & Expo Center. Wandering the grounds and getting an up-close-and-personal look at the classic cars up for auction is almost as much fun as owning one.
Places to Check Out the Latest: If you'd like to see a Tesla or the latest in high-end, exotic cars, drive down to Newport Beach. While it's not the only place in town to find high-end autos, the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Newport Blvd. and Fashion Island is certainly a good place to indulge your exotic car fantasies. If you're just looking for the next great cars at any price range, head over to the OC International Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in September to check out everything from the hottest newest models to the super exotics.
Remember the Thrill of Getting Behind the Wheel at Disneyland's Autopia? Okay, it may only have been thrilling for kids who couldn't drive yet. But for Disney's newest spin on California's car culture, check out the new, 12-acre Cars Land attraction opening at Disney's California Adventure in 2012.
Marconi Automotive Museum www.marconimuseum.org
Lyon Air Museum www.lyonairmuseum.org
Crevier Classic Cars www.crevierclassiccars.com
Annual Orange Plaza Car Show www.orangesunriserotary.org
Muckenthaler Motor Festival http://www.themuck.org/
Dana Point Concours d'Elegance http://www.danapointconcours.org/
Coastline Car Classic http://www.coastlinecarclassic.com/
Cruisin' for A Cure http://www.cruisinforacure.com/
Laguna Beach Classic Car Show http://www.lagunabeachcarshow.com/
Visit Newport Beach http://www.visitnewportbeach.com/
OC International Auto Show http://www.autoshowoc.com/
Disney's California Adventure http://www.bestthemeparks.org/