Cars and Caffeinated Beverages
Anyone who has been to enough car shows knows how very different each individual show can be. Yes, they all have cars, obviously. Your experience, however, will vary quite a bit from a hot rod nationals show to a concours show. At one, you’ll see crowds gather along the streets aggressively encouraging Corvettes and minivans alike to do burnouts. At the other you’re likely to hear casual conversations about Italian racing heritage. These differences are a blessing, because car shows are about the experience as much as they are about the cars themselves. This is why it’s a great idea to see many different types of shows. You never know what you’ll find at even the smallest of shows. For me, a new car show experience came in the form of Cars and Coffee.
Cars and Coffee shows are interesting. There’s no entrance fee, anyone can go, anyone can be in the show with no prior registration, and these shows take place everywhere. Many, but not all, are hosted by dealership owners at one of their dealerships. It’s a great way to promote whichever business is hosting the event. Breakfast pastries and, as the name suggests, coffee are provided. While free food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, it’s the cars that bring us to these events (hopefully). I recently went to three Cars and Coffee events within a week, (I was able to put my 2014 5.0 Mustang in with the show cars). They were hosted by the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA, Herb Chambers Audi Porsche in Burlington, MA, then right next door the following day at the Bernie Moreno owned Mercedes-Benz of Burlington. I was quite surprised by the caliber of cars at all three. Here’s a little taste of what’s possible to find at these events.
I will admit upfront that this was one of my favorites (present company excluded) from these shows, and here’s why: the Honda Civic is often ridiculed as the poster child for “ricers”, which is a shame because it’s actually a great car. I quite like the Civic, so it makes me happy to see one built so well and professionally. This one is modified from the hatchback version of the fifth generation Civic produced from ’91-’95. Straight away you’ll notice this is not a ten minute AutoZone special with stick on vents and chrome hubcaps. Besides the carbon fiber hood shining brilliantly in the sun, you can also see the (Bride) racing buckets, roll cage, and beefy Work wheels. Aero has been done right too with a chin spoiler up front, and a modest yet aggressive carbon fiber wing in the rear. Maybe I just like carbon fiber too much.
This type of car will immediately grab my attention no matter the setting. I’m too much of a sucker for muscle cars to pass this over even amongst the flashiest of supercars, especially a prime example such as this immaculate 1970 Chevy Chevelle Super Sport. While almost every Chevelle has some distinguishing characteristics, the 1970 model year is perhaps the easiest to recognize because of its quad headlights. Part of what contributes to my attraction to muscle cars like this is how they still look stunning and aggressive nearly 50 years later. The other part being American V8s producing the best sound ever to grace my earholes.
Seeing a classic Ferrari is always a treat for the eyes. 1960s Ferraris are the pinnacle of automotive style; very elegant, chrome is present but never overdone, any vents, scoops, or inlets are functional, and the curves always just right. Few can match the Italians regarding automotive beauty, especially with legendary design house Pininfarina backing the efforts. This is the series II 330 GT 2+2 coupe. Power came from a 4.0L V12 producing 300hp. While a lot of Ferraris owe their names to total engine displacement, this one gets its name from specific cylinder displacement; 330 cubic centimeters per cylinder. You owe it to yourself to hear one of these engines running because the sound is absolutely mesmerizing. Thankfully, the series II got rid of the awkward quad headlights that the series I had. Of the 1050 or so 330 GTs built, 455 were the series II and I was fortunate enough to not only see this one at Herb Chambers’ Cars and Coffee, but another one the following day at Mercedes of Burlington.
This spotless Plymouth Superbird decided to make a bit of an entrance by showing up halfway through Bernie Moreno’s Cars and Coffee. Unsurprisingly it stole everyone’s attention, if only temporarily. This can be partially attributed to the car being quite long, violently orange, and sporting a wing larger than most underpasses. It also happens to be one of the most iconic muscle cars ever made.
Ever so slightly modified from the Road Runner, it was developed to be extremely aerodynamic for NASCAR racing. Like the Dodge Charger Daytona before it, the Superbird was in production for only one model year. So it was also unsurprising that it was immediately given the number two spot on the lot (you’ll have to wait to see what had the number one spot). The Superbird is such a likeable car. Eccentric aerodynamics aside, it rocks the Road Runner graphic on it, and I’m certain it’s impossible to see the Road Runner and not feel happy inside.
Here’s a car that’s as rare as it is obscure. It’s called the Shelby Series 1 and, interestingly, it is the only car ever from Shelby that wasn’t designed around an existing model. Even more interesting was the engine choice. Shelby (god rest his soul) was well known for their many collaborations with Ford so it comes as a surprise that the Series 1 holds an Oldsmobile V8. While its execution wasn’t perfect, it’s still a very able performer, and because only 249 were built, it’s an instant classic.
The Bugatti Veyron needs no introduction. It is the automotive equivalent of turning the amp up to 11; absurd 8.0 liter W16 engine, four turbochargers, ten radiators, 1000 horsepower, and a set of tires that cost more than a BMW 3 series. That much hardware and horsepower was necessary to bring the Veyron to its 256mph top speed. During its decade in production, a whopping 450 or so Veyrons were produced with many variants and special editions. I’ve seen four of them and I’m convinced not a single one looks alike. Seeing one in person is always a reminder of the impressive engineering that made it possible. This one was driven in by Mr. Herb Chambers himself.
I’m including this car not just because the Vanquish is a prime example of beautiful British engineering, but also because of the conversation it spawned. One of my favorite James Bond movies may have helped this decision as well. I spent a good half hour talking to the owner and a middle aged couple who were looking to buy it. I was enthralled listening to the gentleman who owns it. He knew absolutely everything about his Aston from the source of the transmission (Dodge Viper manual made into a sort of semi-auto) down to a secret (seriously) sequence of button presses that hibernates (also seriously) the car for winter storage.
He’s the type of person you want to buy a classic car from; someone who knows every detail and exactly how to care for it. I also very much enjoyed talking to the couple who were thinking of buying it; they were such nice people. They were telling me this is exactly what they’re looking for; a second hand Aston to get them into the exotic market. This really hit home with me because a goal of mine is to do just that. They also turned out to be fellow Mustang owners and told me about a few cruise-ins. I’m hoping it worked out for them and they were able to buy it.
Pictured here is insanity on four center locking wheels. The Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce is an exercise in overkill; from its endless sharp angles and twisted SV graphic to the loud green paint and inhuman V12. And what a V12 it is. Somehow, through some type of sorcery most likely, Lamborghini manages to squeeze out an additional 50 horsepower from the still naturally aspirated V12. That puts total horsepower at a paltry 750. I’ve yet to drive an Aventador but when I do, I’m sure my first thought will be: “this is lovely, but 700 horsepower just isn’t doing it for me”.
But wait, there’s more! Because of its extended use of carbon fiber, a substance also made from sorcery, the SV is 110 pounds lighter than the “regular” Aventador. This car is the precise opposite of subtle. It makes the Murcielago sitting directly across from it look positively dreary. Every last detail of the SV screams “look at me!” And look I did, because it’s fairly difficult to tear your eyes away from it.
As the new trio of hypercar hybrids dominates the top of the automotive food chain, many forget that all three have predecessors. This is the 918’s predecessor: the Carrera GT. Porsche had already shown they’re very capable of producing a great supercar with the legendary 959, which was the fastest and perhaps most technologically advanced car at the time.
Since they proved their capability in the supercar department, the Carrera GT is only a slight step out of Porsche’s comfort zone with its big, naturally aspirated V10. Nevertheless, that 612 horsepower V10 helped make the GT an incredible supercar. What’s awe inspiring is realizing the difference in technology old to new, considering the scant time between the two. Power in the GT is sent via a manual transmission to the rear wheels; whereas the 918’s V8 hybrid engine system powers all four wheels through a dual clutch semi-auto. However, seen side by side, they actually look very much alike. A Porsche Carrera GT was not something I expected to see that day.
Not one, but two Mercedes-Benz SLR McLarens. As the name sort of gives away, the SLR is an epic collaboration between Mercedes-Benz, partner AMG, and McLaren. From the front the SLR is easily recognizable as a Mercedes; quad headlamps reminiscent of early-2000s Benz’s and the tri-star is an instant giveaway. That was about it though. Everywhere else on the car looks nothing like any Mercedes built at the time.
The SLR fits the profile of a gran turismo yet flaunts some, well many, supercar lines and curves. Even in the dullest of colors, the SLR stands out. There’s not a boring line anywhere on this car. The grill looks eager to slice through the thickest of 200-mph air, while the rims resemble turbines. Massive louvered side vents sit directly over the side mounted exhaust tips. Then there are the doors which open in the coolest and flashiest way possible. Painted in a vibrant color, the SLR would give the aforementioned Aventador SV a run for its exuberant money.
My decision making process that led me to all of these Cars and Coffee shows stems from a rumor I heard on a car enthusiast Facebook group. A few people mentioned that the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Burlington would play host to the new Aston Martin Vulcan. The Vulcan is a whole separate article, perhaps even novel, in and of itself, so I will (poorly) exercise some restraint.
Now, since Aston Martin is only building 24 Vulcans (in honor of the 24 hours of Le Mans) I felt that rumor was well worth the 20 minute drive. Sure enough, there it was sitting dead center of the lot (this would be the number one spot) as I pulled in. Surprisingly, getting some great shots of it wasn’t that difficult. It did, of course, command the most attention. This 880 horsepower 7.0L naturally aspirated V12 mounted on a carbon fiber monocoque wrapped in carbon fiber body work is truly a spectacular machine.
Perhaps the coolest part of the Vulcan being here was Bernie Moreno, the owner of the dealership, talking about it. His delivery on the car was as fascinating as it was humorous. Getting the car into the country legally apparently involved shipping the car separate from its steering wheel which serves as both a method to steer the car as well as actually starting the car. The body panels and tires are both demonstrational. Like the Bugatti Veyron, the tires have to be specially made so the brutal acceleration doesn’t rip the tires from the rims.
For those wondering what the price tag is on something of this caliber, it’ll run you £1.5million or $2.3million. Worry not though, if the seven figure price tag is out of your budget, the Vulcan’s design cues are already trickling down to Aston Martin’s more pedestrian models. This is evident for anyone who’s seen the new DB11, which is only about $215,000. How’s that for some perspective? The price of the brand new DB11, which, incidentally, is enough to buy a decent house anywhere outside of Massachusetts, is less than 1/10th the price of the Vulcan.
Every one of these Cars and Coffee shows left me very pleasantly surprised with the diversity of cars that showed up. That Vulcan was an absolute treat, especially considering only two of the 24 came to the U.S. And as I mentioned at the beginning, there’s no charge to get in, and they happen everywhere! Pull in, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the cars. You truly never know what you’re going to see, you might be pleasantly surprised like I was.
Photos by Chris Coffin