San Clemente residents bring weekly car show to Target
By Jim Shilander
After time in both Newport Beach and Irvine, a weekly car show that regularly features some of the world’s top-of-line automobiles has relocated to the Target store on Avenida Vista Hermosa.
A group of friends, many from San Clemente, who regularly attended the South OC Cars and Coffee gatherings in Irvine, decided they wanted to keep the event going after it was shut down. Simon Wehr, who manages the event’s Facebook page, said he was coming home from an appointment just a few weeks ago when one of his friends, Anthony Tonokaboni, sent out a group text, suggesting that the group begin meeting informally at Target.
“I was heading down Hermosa towards Target and figured ‘There’s no time like the present’, so I changed lanes and headed in.” Wehr said. “Luckily, the girl behind the counter used to go to Cars and Coffee in Irvine every Saturday with her boyfriend. When I asked to speak to the manager, that barrier was broken down and she helped me talk him into it, so we had their approval.”
Wehr said he went home and immediately got to work building a web presence. Within a week, the Facebook page had 100 “likes” and is now at nearly 700. The event takes place weekly from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Tonokaboni said the group has also maintained connections with high-end car dealerships in Newport Beach from the show’s original home in Crystal Cove, and those dealerships have brought out some of their cars, including Lamborghinis and McLarens. Some young car enthusiasts have even gotten rides in the supercars.
“I keep telling Simon that I’m not sure this can keep growing the way it has,” Tonokaboni said. “Every week it just gets bigger and bigger. People tell each other at the gym, at work. Children as young as 5 years old bring their parents and there’s people in their 70s we see at Starbucks.”
The event includes both exotic, high end cars, as well as classic vehicles, hot rods and muscle cars.
“There’ll be an 18-year-old kid who comes out with a car that he’s still got primer on but he’s worked on himself and has pride and joy in,” Tonokaboni said.
Wehr said the group’s goal is to encourage a love of these vehicles in the younger generation. Many, Wehr said, are getting a chance to touch something they’ve only previously experienced in a video game.
“It’s not about anything more than a group of friends to enjoy their coffee and their cars,” Wehr said. “What’s really special is when kids come along with their parents, and their parents aren’t that into cars, but they’re bringing their kids to do something they enjoy together. That’s the rewarding part of it.”
There’s also the opportunity, he said, to get a look at things they hadn’t seen before.
“Last week, the vehicle everyone was ogling over was a 1957 or ’58 Fiat Microbus in perfect condition … even though there was a $2 million McLaren P1 sitting in the corner. That was kind of amazing.” Wehr said. “The fact that somebody would bring that out to our event, to share with other people … that’s what it’s all about.”