One vendor that has made a presence at many car shows, both big and small, has been Surf City Garage (SCG). Seeing their well stocked booth, it may be clear that they have a full line of car care products, but what isn’t seen is how deep their passion goes for restoring and maintaining classic and modern musclecars, street rods, and trucks.
We recently attended the 5th Annual Surf City Garage Car Show, and to say this event was huge would be an understatement. Arriving early in the morning, we were greeted with a lineup of cars that seemed endless. There were a few streets shut down in Huntington Beach so that this event could be held, and cars were squeezed into as many open spots as they could find.
The staff was there to greet everyone with an early morning smile, a goody bag of coupons and product samples, and a very cool event plaque that was more than just a simple dashboard badge – this was mantle decoration.
The show was hosted by the Orange County Mustang Club (OCMC), but was open to all who cared to attend, from the earliest of cars – like a horseless carriage – to modern muscle, and everything in between. As the cars lined up, it was clear that the best of the best was in attendance, and the judges for the dozens of awards to be handed out later in the day were going to have their work cut out for them.
We were all entertained by the musical stylings of The Michael Hart Band at center stage, with vendors in the parking lot to show us some of their latest products. Food vendors were on hand to serve up breakfast burritos in the morning, and a variety of culinary delights in the afternoon; the “food court” kept busy all day long and the food was enough to keep the crowd happy.
Down each street, cars were parked diagonally, and filled from one end of the street to the other. The weather was only slightly warm, giving us all a great day to cruise the streets and view the hundreds of cars in attendance, and to share car stories with others who shared in our passion.
Hank Williams even brought out his original, one-0wner, 1965 Shelby Cobra, complete with his Cobra shirt and a smile for everyone. He was there to start the car up for those who asked and it was a pleasure seeing this unrestored Cobra looking just as good as it did the day he bought it.
The highlight of the show, for us at least, was the Surf City Garage collection of classic musclecars. While we were aware of their passion for classic cars, seeing the dozens of restored beauties was something that made us drool. There were a few GTOs, Mustangs, Mopars and Chevys, and the general theme was that if you didn’t like a particular car in one color, you could usually find one in another color – there were plenty to choose from.
While it’s true that we did meet some interesting characters at the show, we did run into some familiar faces as well throughout the day. Out in the parking lot behind the garage, we were treated to more vendors, SCG products, and a meet and greet with one of Street Legal TV’s celebrity fans, Dan Woods from Chop Cut Rebuild fame.
Dan was on hand to sign autographs, share stories, and to keep us up to speed (no pun intended) on the demise of the Speed Channel and his move to MAVTV with some upcoming shows of his own.
We look forward to Dan’s Garage, a show that Woods will be shooting from his own garage in Corona, California, with guests from the automotive world. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled and let all of your car buddies know about his upcoming venture.
Woods was also on hand to dole out some awards, specifically the two Best of Show awards that were selected by SCG and the OCMC. The two winners of those awards were invited to be guests on an upcoming episode of Dan’s Garage, and we hope to be there, too, to bring you a behind the scenes look at the show.
Simply Red – Some of our Favorite Cars from the Show
The car show was busy all day long, and the crowd was awesome, with no incidents and nothing but fun and camaraderie amongst all the enthusiasts. The people we met throughout the day shared what they liked the most about the show, how surprised they were at the turnout, and of course shared stories about the one that got away – typically a classic car that wasn’t worth much at the time but became a collector car later in life.
As with any show of this magnitude, we like to pick a few of our favorites from the show and this time around the theme we chose was “Simply Red” – some of our favorite cars in the show wearing a coat of red paint. There were a couple dozen red cars to choose from, but we managed to narrow it down.
How did we come by this theme for this show? The simple fact that the first three cars we liked were red, and when the fourth turned out to be another red car, we decided to stay with that theme and chose the fifth one. Even though we stayed with red cars, that really didn’t make the task of choosing five of them any easier because even with that limitation to color, we found more than five red cars we loved. So here’s our selection below, with one special pick because it was half red, and full tilt bad ass.
Pick #1 – Don Pearson’s 1962 Pontiac Gran Prix
One thing that stood out about this Pontiac Gran Prix wasn’t that it was out standing alone, it was that it was just outstanding. How many classic Pontiacs do you see these days? We’ve seen a few, and most of the time, when they’re worth checking out, we see that familiar Tri-power under the hood, like this one.
The 389 Tri-power was all Pontiac and looked right at home in this Gran Prix, which sported some refinements to make the car a bit more drivable. We noticed disc brakes on the car, which is a nice option to have considering the car looks like it gets driven. The interior is in great shape and looks to be restored to original, like the rest of the car.
This makes for a pretty cool sleeper, but somehow these old Pontiacs just scream power and even in sedan form they make for a very cool cruiser. The trans has been rebuilt by Art Carr, and the new Flowmaster dual exhaust surely makes this old girl sound nice. If you’re liking it as much as we do, it is for sale, or at least it was that day. Not a bad price at $27,500 for a car this nice, and it’s been well taken care of.
Pick #2 – Louis Di Martino’s 1968 Dodge Charger
Of all of the Mopars we saw at the show, one stood out because it was just too clean. Our second pick was this ’68 Charger that Louis Di Martino brought out and it, too, was coincidentally red. The details on the car were immaculate, and it was one of the cleanest Chargers we’ve seen in a while.
Powered by a 383 big block Mopar backed up by an automatic trans, the Charger looked like it just came off the sales floor. The interior was immaculate, right down to the full length console, and the emblems around the car were flawless.
The magnum wheels were a perfect fit for the rest of the car, and the vinyl top looked brand new and didn’t show any imperfections either. The car appealed to us because it was a great example of what early Mopars are all about: clean lines, aggressive looks, and a “don’t mess with me” attitude. We couldn’t resist checking it out a couple of times, and that’s why it made our list.
Pick #3 – Joel Sellers’ 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
By the time we got to our third pick, it was another red car and it was one that we, as well as many others, drooled over. Joel Sellers brought out this ’55 Bel Air, and it was custom throughout – from powertrain to interior to the paint job.
It’s hard to resist the ’55 Chevy, especially if you’re not exactly a fan of the fins on the ’57. The candy apple red paint was flawless, and it just looked like the right color for the car. Under the hood, a stroked out 383 was the choice for motivating this Tri-5 down the road, and the polished parts against the black engine compartment were a nice touch – not too subtle, but not overstated.
The custom wheels were a nice fit to the theme of the car, and the grey interior sported red piping and trim that gave the car a very comfortable look to it. There were plenty of modern touches and a few classic touches – like the furry dice hanging from the mirrors – that made this Chevy a winner in our eyes.
Pick #4 – Jack Hinsche’s 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
One of our favorite cars is the 1966 Chevelle; the stance, the lines and the looks of this car – right between the sports car and the sedan – make this a great combination. This example, owned by Jack Hinsche, was about as red as red can get and being a Super Sport just made it that much better.
It was powered by a 502 cubic inch big block, completely filling the engine bay. According to Hinsche, the engine has pumped out 647 horsepower on the dyno. Backing it up, a Tremec 5-speed transmission means that this car is all business, and one look under the hood assures you that this isn’t a car to be taken for granted.
Inside, the car is close to stock in appearance, save for some additional gauges to keep track of the vitals, and then that shifter attached to the Tremec. Overall, it was a great car with the kind of look you’d expect from a Super Sport, big engine, great stance, and the red valve covers that screamed out “look at me”. You can’t go wrong with 502 cubes of “bring it”, just make sure you get out of the way when the hammer comes down.
Pick #5 – Frank Morales’ 1965 A/C Cobra
Our fifth pick was another one that we couldn’t resist – Frank Morales’ 1965 Cobra that he named “Nasty”. Who can resist an original Cobra? This isn’t some kit car, with a 427 cubic inch side oiler pumping out 500 horsepower, topped off with dual 600 cfm carburetors. The 10.5:1 compression and forged LeMans rods show that this Cobra gets driven hard, too.
While the car has been modified a little – read that “built to drive it hard” – it is also as much show as it is go. We don’t see too many of these at car shows unless they’re complete kit cars with a modern powerplant, but this one is a genuine 1965 model.
We took a look inside, and it has the almost mandatory signature of the great one himself – Carroll Shelby. If you’ve never had a chance to take a ride in one, you’re missing something special. If you’ve driven one for a couple of hours, you’re probably missing a couple of fillings because this car was never meant to be comfortable – it was meant to be fast, and this one doesn’t appear to be one that would disappoint.
Special Pick – Bob Habermehl’s 1956 Chevrolet 210
While our list above is limited to red cars, there was one car that we came upon that was our hands-down favorite. After all, Bob Habermehl’s ’56 Chevy 210 was at least half-red, so it sort of fits the criteria. But the bottom line is that this car was simply one helluva sleeper that we couldn’t pass up.
Bob told us that he sent the stock wheels out to be stretched because he liked the look of the car with the dog-dish hubcaps and steel wheels. While the wheels and the interior appear to be close to stock, one look under the hood would tell you otherwise. You almost have to take another look at the car to be sure that it’s the same plain Jane looking 210 you see on the outside.
When Bob’s Grandmother purchased the car, it was bestowed with 6 cylinders of average, and she drove it for a few years before Habermehl took it over. From there, he ditched the six and went with a nitrous-fed 350; but that wasn’t enough and it was later replaced with a 400 cubic inch aluminum Chevy, topped off with a TWM/Borla fuel injection system.
From there, the 210 just becomes a performance parts catalog list of hardware, including Hellwig sway bars, CPP drop spindles, Wilwood disc brakes, Ididit steering column, and a Dakota Digital dash, to name-drop a few. If you’re wondering if this car saw some dragstrip time, Habermehl says he spent about 11 seconds at a time at LACR, in Palmdale in the early 1990s.
Just check out this Chevrolet 210 with it’s sleeper look that will wake up in a hurry, and tell us you wouldn’t love to hit the pavement with Habermehl and see what this thing can do. We liked the look, but fell in love with the stealthiness of it, and that’s why it’s one of our special picks. Not that there weren’t plenty of other cars that were just as nice, but this one was half-red, and simply outstanding.
The End of the Show
The event was just long enough to get a look at every car there, and to take a couple of cat naps in between. Towards the end of the day, the call was made to gather around and check out the prizes from the raffle, as well as the awards for the various classes and the two “Best of Show” winners.
Dan Woods headed up to the stage to hand out a couple of awards to the Best of Show winners. The first of the two winners was presented by Woods on behalf of OCMC, giving the award to Chuck Schauwecker with a 1934 Model A. The second Best Of Show winner, presented on behalf of SCG, was presented to Glen McGuire with a 1966 GTO. Another award handed out by SCG was the Black Ice Deep Shine Award, presented to Gloria Lombardi with a 1939 Ford Deluxe Coupe.
After the final award was handed out, the show began to close down and all of the cars filed out in a respectful manner – a few tire screeches and a couple of romps on the pedals, and we were on our way home. Another great show for the books.
And don’t forget to check out the extensive gallery below – we couldn’t capture all of the cars, but with a couple hundred pics your sure to find something you like.