ENCINITAS — Revving engines competed with the shine of chrome as an eclectic group of cars lined the South Coast Hwy 101 for the third installment of the summer series Encinitas Classic Car Cruise Nights on Aug. 19.
The popular Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association event brought in a larger than usual crowd according to DEMA volunteer and event coordinator Doug Jones. “August seems to be the packed month, but this one more so than in years before. I’m almost sure we set the attendance record.”
As the sound of live music drifted down the street, car owners stood proudly next to their vintage rides. Olivenhain resident Larry Eddington gave his black 1950 Buick the once over as passersby stopped to admire the exposed engine.
“I’ve owned it for two years,” he said, motioning toward the car. “I traded in a hotrod for this one.” He also owns a 1957 Chevy. “This one’s a lot more comfortable,” he said. “It’s an old guy’s cruiser.” But with a V-8 engine, the Buick still has plenty of get up and go.
Sponsors Encinitas Foreign & Domestic and Rancho Auto Body welcomed the host car clubs — Heart Beat Classics and North County Cruisers — as well as the Porsche Car Club to town for the night.
There was no shortage of humor in the dozen categories of awards given to individual car owners. They ranged from “I’ll rescue you honey, the fireman’s choice award” to the “car that’s not likely to make it home tonight.” “It’s always fun — that’s the whole objective,” Jones said. “We try to keep the spirit light and it’s working.”
Local merchants benefited from the swelling crowd as restaurants were filled and retail shops stayed open late to accommodate more customers. Restaurants catered to the crowd with dining “hot rod” specials and similar marketing techniques geared toward getting the attention of the ready-made customers.
“I like to come here and shop while my parents stay with the car,” said Samantha Borne, 14, an Escondido resident. “I found some cool stuff,” she said. “My dad jokes that it’s the most expensive night of the summer.”
In fact, Jones confirmed that the event has expanded to benefit merchants in a wider area along Coast Highway 101. “Visitors are now discovering the north and south end of town rather than clustering around the center of the venue at the Encinitas Smog Station,” he said.
“The most popular comment I get is, ‘I’m driving in a postcard,’ when people are driving along the coast (to get to the event),” Jones said.
More than 200 vintage vehicles were on display, including a $400,000 Packard that is one of five of its kind ever made.
The final Encinitas Classic Car Cruise Night will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16.