Early Risers: Coffee & Cars with Pelican on the Promenade

Cars and Coffee, which many car enthusiasts believe started at Crystal Cove in Orange County, California, has quickly grown into a nationwide phenomenon over the past few years, with hundreds of weekly meetups happening all over the country. Early-weekend-morning gatherings like Cars & Coffee have become a staple of the automotive community, and while they’re straightforward affairs, negativity seems to follow even the most respectful of events. Hosting an event should be a fun experience, but for some, it turns into a nightmare of stress thanks in part to illegal car meets where hooning is not only expected but highly encouraged. Mustang drivers plowing into the crowds or cops drawing guns on kids for doing some donuts has put negative publicity and a bad taste in local communities hosting these types of events. Thankfully, some enthusiasts are out to change that negative perception.

For the past year, Pelican Parts—the largest parts distributor for all OE and performance aftermarket European auto parts including Mini, Audi, Volkswagen, Saab and Volvo—has hosted its own Coffee & Cars at the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates, CA.

Having experienced my first Cars and Coffee Aliso Viejo experience last year, I wanted to get a taste of the local car scene at the Pelicans event I had been hearing about for the past few months and if it was worth rolling out of bed at 6:00am on a weekend morning. Mind you, I am not a morning guy.

Mike Morita, VP of eCommerce at Pelican Parts, played an integral part in motivating me to come out and witness the vast array or cars that rolled into this quarterly-held event.

I was on my way there, less than a mile from the Promenade parking lot, when I noticed that my car was tightly sandwiched between a Porsche 911 GT3 and ’76 Ford Escort RS2000 Mk II. “Not bad company,” I thought to myself as I pulled into the parking lot. Upon entering, I was immediately taken aback by the variety and quality of cars on display. A pair of Ferrari F40s, Mercedes SLR, and Porsche Carrera GT were just a few of the supercars which caught my attention, and I hadn’t even stepped out of the car!

Once out, I began roaming around the parking lot with my camera in hand to gauge the sheer magnitude of this meet. The north side of the lot was filled with hundreds of Porsches of various types and models.

Sitting proudly, front and center in the parking lot, was this ’62 Porsche 356B built by John Benton, driven by Robert Curry and co-piloted by Rick Shaw.

Dubbed the Shake and Bake Porsche, this bright yellow machine competed in the ’17 La Carrera Panamericana. The La Carrera Panamericana is known as the longest rally event in the world as drivers from around the world compete for seven days, racing over 1,864 miles in grueling conditions.

Singer Vehicle Designs offered a new lease on life to this Porsche 911 by performing numerous modifications including upgrading the engine to a more powerful flat-6 powerplant.

Every car that rolls out of SVD is fully customized and made specifically for owners who want something different than what was manufactured from the factory floor.

What do you do when you love owning a Porsche, but have V8 power still coursing though your veins? Naturally, you build a V8-powered 911 to satisfy all your needs!

As I snapped photos of this ’65 VW Bug, I chuckled to myself as I envisioned in my head those old Dodge Ram commercials from back in the day. “That thing got a Hemi?” You bet it does.

In fact, the owner stuffed his VW with a ’57 392 cubic inch engine built with forged pistons, roller cams, Hot Heads intake manifold, dual four-barrel 600 Carter carburetors, and a BDS air scoop. With the modifications, this German machine delivers 420 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque.

The chassis was modified using Mustang II front suspension and a Torqueflite 727 transmission. The rear end was tubbed, a Ford 9-inch rearend placed underneath, and subsequently outfitted with a set of 29x18x15-inch Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro tires rolling on five-spoke polished aluminum wheels.

A full roll cage was welded in place for added safety and chassis rigidity. The vehicle weighs in at a scant 1,975 pounds.

Old school Formula 1 fans might recognize the livery on this Acura NSX. The graphics and even roof lights were an exact replica of the ’92 Suzuka F1 Circuit pace car that led iconic racers such as Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, and Michael Schumacher though the grid as they prepared for a nail-biting 53 laps.

Walking though the parking lot, it was evident that events like Cars and Coffee have a more relaxed and respectful atmosphere, where car owners can sit down and enjoy the brisk morning air while running into old friends or meeting new ones.

PJ Bonifacio has been long been involved in the import tuner scene, building some of the craziest tuner cars this side of Southern California.

When PJ’s not busy working on his personal project cars, he can be found repairing vehicles at his auto body shop in La Puente, CA. PJ rolled into the meet with one of his latest creations, a Datsun 240Z stuffed with a RB26DETT powerplant.

“This 240Z was a fun project but my true passion as of late has been anything and everything Ford Escort Mk I/Mk II,” he says.

It’s special to witness such a legendary car, but to see two Ferrari F40s at the same event was simply amazing.

Another rare vehicle was this Porsche 959 that Pelican had on display next to their booth. When the 959 was introduced, this twin-turbocharged production vehicle was documented as the world’s fastest street-legal production car.

This ’69 Ford Escort RS2000 Mk I was restored from the ground up by the vehicle’s owner and assisted by PJ Bonifacio. PJ mentioned that he’s been busy working on multiple Escorts at his shop and is currently finishing up a rally version Mk II Escort that he plans to bring out to the next meet.

Powering this ’76 Ford Escort RS2000 Mk II is a Cosworth-built twin-cam engine paired to a set of dual Weber side draft carburetors.

A custom fuel setup was plumbed inside the trunk and outfitted with what looks to be an enormous fuel cell.

With only 500 total units scheduled for production this year, the Ford GT is a rare super car that’s been highly coveted by the automotive world.

Nestled under the rear bonnet is a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque.

Fiat’s 1000 Berlinas were placed into production in 1962; the platform was designed by Fiat engineers for road and track use. The Berlina Corsa is easily distinguishable by its front mounted radiator that was placed up front and in between the bumper bars, necessitating the unusual bumper design.

The Fiat 1000 dominated the 1,000cc class of the Italian Championship and the International Touring Car Championship in 1965 and 1966 with its 982cc displacement engine that produced 76 bhp at 6,000 rpm. With this powerplant, the car was able to reach 185 kilometers per hour, or about 115 mph.

The Porsche Carrera Speedster’s unmistakable sleek body line is a timeless classic.

Is it just me? Or does the Martini livery always look good on any Porsche, regardless of model?

The same can be said about the Gulf Racing livery, first seen on the famous Mirage Ford GT40s during 1967.

There were plenty of Lotus owners showing off their rides at the meet; this Europa Special caught my eye. The Europa began production in 1966 before coming to an end in ’75 with only 9,230 examples built during that time period.

One of the most important things to say about the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is that its hand-built 5.4-liter supercharged engine cranks out a healthy 617 horsepower and 580 lb-ft of torque, which is more power than you would ever need when driving on the street. More is better, right?

Don’t mind the fact that this Mazda Miata owner violated a major CA DMV rule by replacing his front plate with a vinyl decal. We were more interested to see the Lexus 1UZ-FE 4.0-liter V8 engine sitting neatly placed inside the engine bay.

Puking oil out the engine bay is always a bad sign. The owner didn’t seem too concerned as he calmly used a few rags and a Sprite bottle to collect the leakage.

We spotted this clean street/track BMW 2002 outfitted with BBS RS wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes R888 tires.

Under the hood, the 1,990cc inline four-cylinder high compression engine is mated to twin Weber side draft carburetors, while a classic Electromotive Tec II engine management system provides fuel and ignition.

Drag racers can and will definitely argue this point but a road racer will always claim it to be true!

The next time you’re in the mood for some coffee and a unique collection of cars, be sure to check out Coffee & Cars with Pelican to help satisfy your automotive cravings.