If you were to ask any Southern California car enthusiast about Cars and Coffee, many of them would probably tell you about the past event in Irvine. You see, the original SoCal Cars and Coffee actually started in Crystal Cove in Newport Beach way back in the day. The group eventually ended up at Ford’s Los Angeles Regional Office in Irvine, as they ultimately ran out of space in Newport. Car fanatics from all over SoCal gathered to hang out early on Saturday mornings, and the most diversified collection of cars would show up. It was indeed a unique place, but unfortunately, the organizers shut it down late in 2014 due to a myriad of reasons that complicated the event. That is kind of where the new age of Cars and Coffee events began.
After Irvine shut down, Cars and Coffee broke down into hundreds of smaller meets. There were so many to choose from, but over time, the smaller meets started turning into marquee or chassis-based gatherings. I have spent the better part of three years hanging out in mainly Porsche circles and have become very familiar with the fans of the brand.
In the last handful of years, downtown Los Angeles—particularly in the Arts District—has become a hot pot of cultural diversity, artistic expression, and gentrification. The evolution of the land and people has brought new energy to a gritty part of town. As many of you may know, Magnus Walker has been a part of this region for some time. Living during the heart of the rebuild, he’s seen the historical change since the early ’90s. What I love about it more than anything else is the presence of artistic expression throughout the buildings, alleys, and shops that now thrive there.
One of the coolest event locations in the heart of the Arts District is The Container Yard. I had my first experience here in 2019 when I responded to an invitation to hang out with Larry Chen at his photo workshop. It was such a unique experience, and the event space is so Los Angeles in every way, shape, and form. Various artists fill the area and add large mural pieces to the walls of the venue. Hence the uniqueness of the space as it is continuously evolving.
Last month, Rad Ralph (@rad_mg) asked if I would like to co-host and help promote Cars Cookies & Coffee at The Container Yard, and I jumped right in. I had a prior interest in hosting an event at the space, but the timing was not ideal before, so that possibility eventually died out. Fast forward to December 2019, the organizers @carscookiescoffee, @coffeehallartsdistrict, @rad_mg, @supremepoweragent, @thecontaineryard, and @aldolihiang laid the groundwork to what will become one of the most exciting Cars and Coffee events that Californians have seen in some time.
When talking to the organizers about this event, they stated that it had very humble beginnings. They wanted to attract car people but also families and kids that could attend for one or more of those three elements (Cars, Cookies, Coffee), and in December, they invited friends and family for a trial run.
“We invited friends and did word of mouth to check viability, parking, and organization,” said Brian Edson, one of the event’s organizers.
“Lucky for us, Ralph was able to attend the first event and felt the vibe we were trying to develop. We wanted a mix of old and new cars and to bring people (not just car dudes) together to hang out and enjoy each other’s company with common interests. Ralph really took the initiative to get us to have a big year starter. The Container Yard is such a unique space, and he saw the vision we had for it to be bigger. So with his marketing skillset and connections, he blew the thing out of the water. Curating the container area and bringing a diverse mix of old and new perfectly together.”
“As for events going forward, we intended this to be a monthly event and working on a couple of different locations as well to give us a fresh look. Honestly, most of the credit goes to the space. Without The Container Yard, we wouldn’t have the beautiful one-of-a-kind backdrops that provided the overload of color and expression. We knew from the first time we saw that space that we had to do something there,” said Brian.
I have to admit that I have not been this excited over a non-commercialized car meet in some time. To have an event in the heart of the Arts District on an early Sunday morning was so exciting! And to see a variety of vehicles parked in front of beautiful murals as the sun was rising was just too much excitement to handle. Of course, when it came to the morning in question, it did not disappoint. The weather was perfect, and the energy was electric!
Although the start time was listed as 8 am, cars were rolling in deep caravans as early as 7:15 am. Hordes of vintage BMW 2002s, Porsche 911s, bagged imports, and some JDM fever were all present and ready to rock. The yard filled up quickly and to the brim. Cars started to park on the upper level of The Container Yard. Once that filled up, people started to park their vehicles in the adjacent alley, and that filled up just as quickly. So much variety filled the streets, and that was probably my favorite part. I could catch up with my Euro and JDM friends all at once. Because of the diversity, I was also meeting other owners with unique rides such as Ricky with an Austin Mini pick-up truck—insane!
The location also brought out many aspiring and seasoned photographers alike. The unique site had these young photographers smiling ear to ear. Mitch Lappo (@conancreativ) says, “CCC may have answered that question for the time being about meets becoming very similar and fading. A rotating, curated event promoting unity in the culture—less dividing lines, more enthusiasts, more community, and cookies!”
I like to think about how often you get a chance to shoot so many cool cars in such a cool place all in one day, and the answer to that is, not very often!
Such an incredible day, and I cannot wait to check out what the crew at Cars Cookies & Coffee do next. They are new to the game but not new to the car community. Their ambition to grow a unique event every month is such a breath of fresh air and will be a great addition to the SoCal Car Culture that thrives today.