California Prequel – Chilling at Dana Point


If you think of the upcoming Monterey Car Week as intense, exotic, and overly expensive, it might be worth taking a look at the late July events surrounding the Dana Point 356 Concours in Southern California.

We say events because there’s nothing really scheduled. But usually a number of fun things pop up with the local Porsche enthusiasts. If you were to attend the weekly Cars and Coffee events either in Tustin or Aliso Viejo, you’d more than likely run into a few of the locals – some of whom might include Jeff Zwart, John Wilhoit, Kerry Morse, or Bill Doyle – and you might hear of a few of the unmentioned showings of private collections or shop open houses.

Whatever the case, it will always be low-key and under the radar.

If you’re an enthusiast, the Tustin C&C usually has the most Porsches on Dana Point weekend.

Sunday is reserved for the Dana Point 356 Concours. Be sure to get there early. While there is ample parking for non-entrants, it may involve a bit of a hike…uphill. Unless, of course, you spring for the valet parking at the decidedly regal Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel, which overlooks the beautiful Lantern Park where the cars are parked. If that’s not enough SoCal beauty for you, the views of Dana Point Harbor and Doheny State Beach rest just below.

While Dana Point is the most notable concours on the SoCal 356 schedule, it’s decidedly low-key for nearly everyone… except those doing their final practices for Monterey. Mostly the competition is warm and friendly. Many of the cars are dressed in period with rally gear, cameras, surf-boards, or skis.

You never know what you’ll find. And, they warmly welcome all other Porsches in a separate area.

Besides the beautiful little round cars, the marque is usually well represented from the earliest 911s all the way to the latest Cayman GT4s. There even were a couple of air-cooled era VW vans and trucks present as if they belonged there, which apparently they did.

Perhaps the most notable non-356s were the only two Mikafa (Minden Karrosseriefabriken) Tempo Matador RVs known to be in the United States, one of which was commissioned in 1959 by a Hungarian count of Vanderbilt heritage who used it for a three-month family trip around Europe. Both were very well preserved and well-appointed, even for modern times, though we presume contemporary families would replace some of the large windows a large flat-screen TV suitable for movies or video games.

Though there were plenty of clean and shiny cars on hand, the trend toward preserving older cars with crinkled paint and minor dents and dings continues to gain popularity and acceptance. Only a couple years ago, bringing a rusty, dented, thread bare, dried-and-cracked leather car to a concours would have earned you a ticket toward banishment. Rest assured: attitudes have changed. If the Dana Point concours is a barometer, acceptance is near complete.

Whatever the case, the Dana Point 356 Concours seems to make room for all approaches and presents itself as a pleasant gathering, one in which everyone seems to drive away with a smile.

It’s a day worth putting on any Porsche enthusiast’s calendar.

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