South OC Cars and Coffee Review – Collector Cars Are The Stars in San Clemente

By Steve & Tamami Laser

With its fantastic beaches, breathtaking views and excellent restaurants, South Orange County, Calif., is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Yet there’s another reason to visit, especially for auto enthusiasts. South OC Cars and Coffee, billed as one of the largest car meets in the state, is held every Saturday morning in the Outlets at San Clemente shopping mall.

With hundreds of collector cars, trucks, and motorcycles on display, there’s something for everyone. We made our first visit last weekend, arriving just before the show started at 9 a.m. and stayed until the last cars departed two hours later. Founded and organized by Simon Wehr, this event follows the style of the well-loved Cars and Coffee in Irvine that ran from 2006-‘14.

Our first video takes a look at some of the gorgeous exotic cars at the show, including those from Ferrari and McLaren, as well as cool collector cars from Porsche and Volkswagen.

One of the neat things about South OC Cars and Coffee is the relaxed, family friendly environment. There’s no admission charge (or advance registration) for owners who want to display their vehicles or for spectators.

This gorgeous first-generation Ford GT, inspired by the GT40 racing car, remains a rare sight on the road. It’s even more unusual to see one painted in this bright shade of yellow.

Hot Rods and custom cars, like the ones in our above video, can often be seen cruising on Pacific Coast Highway (locals call it “PCH”) during the weekend.

While some of the cars at the show are organized in rows by make and model, others are parked freestyle. For example, this beautifully built T-bucket (above) is hanging out with an Alfa Romeo and a pair of Corvettes.

This video captures the wide appeal and diversity of collectible Fords, including multi-generations of the Mustang, a cool 1950s Thunderbird, and a good-looking Bronco 4×4.

Close the hood and this first-generation Mustang looks like a lightly modified street machine. Yet under the hood lurks a SUPERCHARGED engine that motivates this powerful pony car.

The first-generation Bronco (above) remains a highly collectible vehicle for Ford fans and off-road enthusiasts. We’ve heard that Ford is bringing back the Bronco name soon for a new generation of buyers (although it won’t look like the original).

This video highlights some of the incredibly gorgeous Corvettes at the show, and also takes a look at the Camaros, Corvair, and Chevy trucks, including an El Camino. 

This beautiful 1965 Corvette roadster was one of our favorite cars at the show. (Our tech editor owned a fuel-injected ’65 roadster for more than 20 years.)

This Corvette was incredibly clean and beautifully restored inside and out. This model sported a 4-speed manual gearbox and was fitted with a wood steering wheel, power windows, and matching seatbelts.

While we owned several Camaros over the years, the ’69 Yenko/SC remains one of our dream cars. This tribute model was nicely built and featured a big-block engine under the hood.

This fifth-generation Camaro, owned by show organizer Simon Wehr, is a highly modified street machine equipped with high-performance parts and rides on 22-inch wheels.

According to Wehr, the built and supercharged LS3 6.2L V8 under the hood puts out a remarkable 782 hp and 644 lb.-ft. of torque.

Pickups, panel vans, and station wagons caused plenty of heads to turn at the show. The tilt-up bed floor on the truck above offered an easy way to view the customized hydraulic suspension components underneath.

This video takes a quick look at a cool Pontiac GTO, Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, a pair of Lincoln Continentals and a Studebaker.

This concours quality Eldorado was breathtaking to behold. We also liked the turbine wheels and attractive shade of green on the exterior and matching interior.

It’s unlikely that Dodge will build the Viper again. However, the Challenger returned following a lengthy hiatus; Jeep remains incredibly popular, and something like the Grand Wagoneer might be coming back soon (minus the woodgrain exterior trim). 

This ’70 Challenger R/T Shaker convertible is a rare, highly collectible muscle car. We haven’t seen one in this groovy shade of purple for a long time.

The owner of this ’90 Jeep Wagoneer placed the original price sheet on the window. The big Jeep has an original MSRP of $29,140 (expensive then; sounds pretty reasonable today) and featured a 5.9-liter V8 engine with shift-on-the-fly 4WD.

The pair of well-worn early model Land Rovers in our video highlight the rugged nature of these beasts as well as the fact that show vehicles can be unrestored or “works in progress.”

We remember cars like this ’68 Triumph TR 250 from our high school days. One of our professors drove a car just like this one. (Check out the custom New Jersey license plate.)

Here’s another car that we remember from days gone by. This Porsche 356 S was equipped with neat accessories including headrests, chrome wheels, and a luggage rack.

This video highlights some of the Japanese cars at South OC Cars and Coffee including collectible models from Nissan, Datsun, Toyota and Lexus.

While the Nissan Skyline was not originally available in the U.S., it has become a highly prized model among collectors of the brand.

Fitted with original Japanese market right-hand-drive, this Skyline GT-R attracted lots of attention at the show and remains a rare sight in Southern California.

The Toyota Corolla recently celebrated its 50th birthday. While millions have been sold, this Corolla “Levin” spinoff called the Sprinter Trueno is a right-hand-drive model from Japan. It featured an aftermarket racing-style driver’s seat and other cool mods.

Our last video captures collectible cars from Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. While the NSX (above) was sold as an Acura in America, it’s badged as a Honda in Japan, Europe and other markets where the Acura brand isn’t available.

We saw several examples of the neat Honda S2000 at the show. Officially sold in the U.S. for about a decade, the rear-drive roadster is a blast to drive and can be fitted with an all-weather hardtop like the one above.

Another great thing about South OC Cars and Coffee is that enthusiasts can display new cars at the show. As the ultimate Civic, and a future collectible, the owner of this new Type R has already dressed it up with aftermarket mods.

Mazda celebrated the 50th anniversary of its rotary powered cars last year. The compact and lightweight engine powered many different Mazdas including the third-generation RX-7 shown above. The highest point of Mazda’s development of the rotary occurred in 1991, when the quad-rotor-powered 787B Group C racing car won the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Story, photos and videos © 2018