Every Saturday morning, a San Clemente mall parking lot in South Orange County is transformed into a showground for car enthusiasts, billed as the biggest weekly car show in the country.
South OC Cars and Coffee.
The automotive show is something many car owners look forward to.
“It’s a great way to spend a couple hours,” said Ira Horwitz who came with his 5-Window, 1949 Chevrolet pickup.
“It’s the highlight of my week every week,” said Damien Bruce, 26, a volunteer at the show who brought his 2015 535 BMW.
The event brings in all sorts of life-size collectable cars into the Outlets at San Clemente parking lot – ranging from classic Chevrolets to modern hot rods like Lamborghinis.
The tradition behind cars and coffee started in Irvine and moved several times due to capacity and noise issues until it found a home in San Clemente in 2017, when it began at the local Target parking lot.
After a huge outpouring of interest, the event moved to the outlet mall where it was embraced by the city and mall operators.
“We found it beneficial for us to have them host the event here, as it would bring in shoppers and increase sales.” said Angelica Bello, a Marketing & Special Events manager at the Outlet.
Meet the Wehrs
The event’s main organizers, Simon Wehr and his son, James, 23, spend their Saturday’s walking the outlet parking lot checking out cars, and recording videos for their YouTube channel.
How do they manage so many cars?
“Nothings easy,” said Simon Wehr, who credits his big brother for getting him into cars when he was 16.
”The Outlet’s been great. The city has been great. But it’s a ton of work and most people don’t appreciate how much work goes into it,” said Simon Wehr, crediting the work of about 50 volunteers each week who come out to work the event, directing cars and reminding people about the rules.
“We have to make sure people behave themselves,” said Simon Wehr said, noting that they maintain a good environment by consistently communicating the rules – no revving, no speeding, no burnouts – and being strict on enforcing them.
James Wehr estimates that the show receives an average of 800 to 1000 cars every week, adding that they regularly have to open the lower level of the outlet to accommodate all the cars, which have on occasion swelled to as many as 2500.
Meet The Volunteers That Make it Happen
South OC Cars and Coffee staff organizes a large group of dedicated volunteers every week to help direct cars, sell merchandise and generally keep the peace.
Volunteers along with South OC Cars and Coffee staff work with the local sheriff’s department and the outlet mall security to keep a safe environment and enforce the rules.
Organizers say there are hardly any incidents at their meets.
Most calls are actually about the kids taking photos by the freeway said one deputy at the show
Aside from running the show, which can even involve running after revving hot rods to remind drivers of the rules, Simon is also tasked with choosing car of the week.
“It’s kind of a gut feel,” Wehr says about how he chooses the winner.
Earlier this month, Bryce Yeager, 26, was chosen car of the week with his almost completely modified 2JZ Gallardo Lamborghini which had modified fender panels, door windows, suspension and more.
Wehr said the modifications and the crowd his car was attracting got Yeager’s Lamborhini selected as car of the week.
Meet some of the other car show locals who show up each week to show off their prized projects.
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