Long Beach, California: Japanese Classic Car Show
Odometer (Legend): 531,568
Odometer (ILX): 97,753
Trip Distance: 770 Miles
Let’s take a moment today and appreciate our elders. Elderly vehicles, that is. Among the oldest I’ve owned (one of three 1986 models in my past) was this Montreal Blue Metallic Honda Prelude 2.0 Si, and that was 14 years ago. These pictures were taken August 26, 2000. Back then, I was collecting Preludes instead of Acura Legends. Simpler times.
For 10 years now, the Southern California community has rallied together to celebrate the heritage of vintage Japanese automobiles. This year, I made my first visit to the annual event called Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS). Registration for this year’s program opened on July 1 and was already booked to capacity by July 25! In order to qualify for entry, participating vehicles must be from pre-1985, with a few exceptions. For example, this year, JCCS allowed early 1990’s Mazda Miatas to enter as well as first generation Acura Integras.
The 6-hour drive westward on Interstate 10 started after an early departure from my office in Scottsdale on Friday afternoon. Though storm clouds in the horizon threatened to dump monsoon rains on me, the weather cooperated aside from a lot of humidity in the Palm Springs area. My ILX knows the I-10 route between Phoenix and Los Angeles very well, and I’ve grown accustomed to its 3,300 RPM whirr at 78 miles per hour in 6th gear. I had a lot of great music to accompany me, like this classic road trip anthem.
I admired the sunset and lucked out on traffic, sailing into Long Beach around 8:00 p.m. for check-in at my motel. Saturday was the big day. By 7:00 a.m. I’d driven the 6.1 miles to the Long Beach Waterfront which would shortly be overtaken by hundreds of vintage Japanese automobiles. I stashed the ILX in visitor parking and I watched as a steady line of cars & trucks – some as pristine as if they’d driven off the showroom floor, and some with nary a stitch of original architecture intact, rolled into the participant gate and into the grassy park.
By 10:00 a.m. I’d already worked up enough of an appetite to drop $14 on a basket of chicken strips and French fries from a truck-based vendor in the entrance. Ouch to my wallet, and ouch to my diet, but that greasy goodness fueled me all the way through the afternoon. I wandered among the various participating vehicles and met a few of their proud owners. Honda & Acura had a booth set up – it was the second year they’d participated – complete with various cars & motorcycles from the Honda Collection museum in Torrance. Among them, a 1979 Prelude and a 1992 NSX. I had the chance to interact with a few folks from Honda HQ who I’ve known for some time.
My focus was directed primarily to the Hondas in the show, but I couldn’t help but glance an eyeball at the bright red Lexus LFA on display (“How’d that get in here?” I thought). I saw some truly amazing rides: A 47,000-mile all-original 1986 Prelude, my friend Armando’s ultra clean 1974 Mazda RX-4, an extremely rare 1976 Mazda Cosmo, and a dealership fresh Toyota Corona.
Amidst all the chaos, I received a visit from my friend Davis who’s recently moved into the Long Beach area from his former home in Atlanta. We wandered over to take a closer look at the RMS Queen Mary. Long Beach is home to this a 1,000-foot-long ocean liner from 1934 that went into service in 1936 and been parked at the harbor since 1967. Queen Mary’s size makes her a couple hundred feet longer than Titanic, even. Today, the ship has been converted into a hotel & museum. I want to stay there someday!
The good news came around 2:45 p.m. when we learned that my friends Scott & Sandy (who I featured in a blog post back in March) had been awarded “Best in Show” for their immaculately restored white 1965 Honda S600 Roadster. Scott is pictured above with the car. The Roadster was one of 3 vehicles that he and Sandy had entered, alongside a red 1965 right-hand-drive S600 Coupe and a “pop orange” 1972 Z600. All of them got a great deal of attention throughout the day. I’ll never forget one wide-eyed spectator, who took a look at the Coupe and said, “This car gives me goosebumps.” He really did have goosebumps on his arm. Ha!
The capstone to our amazing day was when I got to have dinner with a celebrity: famed racecar driver Peter Cunningham (above), known for having achieved 91 professional race wins since the 1980’s. Peter and his company, RealTime Racing, have been key players in Honda & Acura performance world. Cunningham is still at it, with a full race-equipped Acura TLX that was on display at the car show. We dined with a few other friends at Federal Bar in downtown Long Beach. I said my farewells a little after 7 p.m. and started the long journey home to Scottsdale.
Thanks to those who made it such a great weekend! Here are the rest of my pics for your viewing enjoyment.
Pit stop in Desert Center, CA: Home to rusted pumps and an abandoned restaurant.
Sunset approaching the Los Angeles area.
Saturday morning arrival at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, home of the RMS Queen Mary.
Entryway to the Japanese Classic Car Show, with a lineup of Honda CRXs.
My friend Chris Hoffman’s immaculate 1987 CRX Si. He’s the original owner, and the car has just 109,000 miles on its odometer.
Couple of sexy looking Nissans.
Here’s a closer look at Honda/Acura’s booth.
Trio of Toyota Celicas.
Scott was busy all day telling the story of his gorgeous 1965 S600 Coupe.
Perfect day at the Long Beach Waterfront to look at some nice cars.
My friend Chris Green’s 1986 Honda Prelude. Just 47,000 miles on this beauty here.
I especially enjoyed some of the visual aids he’d put together.
I got to tool around in this little thing for a bit. It’s Scott’s 1972 Honda Z600. 4-speed manual and an absolute riot to drive.
Armando and his 1974 Mazda RX-4.
Another amazing Accord: This one, a rare 2-speed “Hondamatic” 1979 sedan owned by the same Chris with the blue Prelude.
Just view that plush interior!
Ever seen a 9,500 RPM redline? This is the gauge cluster from Scott’s red 1965 S600 Coupe. Love that wood wheel.
Another one from Chris Hoffman: His 1980 Accord with just 18,000 miles on it. Frequently (as in the case with my friends) participants enter multiple vehicles.
Visiting the Queen, with my friend Davis.
Someday I’m going back for a tour of this thing!
Hope you all enjoyed coming along!