Irvine, CA – I was pretty excited to attend the AutoCon (short for Auto Connection), on December 10- for one, it’s the last car show of the year, and it was being held in an outdoor venue, which is something we haven’t seen much of these days. Being located at the old El Toro Marine Air Base location (which is being converted to a fairgrounds), I was hoping that the show would be located on parts of the old airstrip with some of the hangars in the background- I figured it would look cool, Top Gear style- but unfortunately it was relegated to a lot location just outside of it. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as parking was convenient and it was still just a few steps away from getting to the hot air balloon ride.
The show itself was surprisingly diverse, with some fresh cars that I hadn’t noticed before, probably due to entrants coming in from the whole west coast of the U.S. Overall there was a good mix of modern imports, European, and domestic cars, as well as some rare and classic cars. Some that stuck out for me were the old school Celicas (both 1st and 2nd gen), a 4th gen donked out Impala, a super cleanly restored ’69 Mercedes 280SE (I think), the Scion Xb converted to a 60’s wagon look (complete with holiday luggage on the top), a race Shelby Cobra and a Nissan President, among others. There were also a lot of cars with rather… interesting… detailings, whether it be the paint designs or the miscellaneous engine bay decorations. However, I also noticed a disturbing (in my opinion, no hate intended) trend developing among the “hellaflush” movement, where people seem to be trying to outdo each other on how badly they can damage their front fenders to stay as low as possible. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t see how badly rolled, paint cracking, hammer banged fenders can in any way look aesthetically tasteful. To each their own though :).
Other than the cars, the event also had the usual distractions; vendors selling their wares, as well as the brave models willing to walk around with nothing more than a bikini in this cold winter weather- for this, I applaud you ladies! More importantly, the show organized a small festival of some of the most popular food trucks in the area with which to delight our taste buds with. To be honest I really hope other shows start doing this as well- one can only eat a cardboard flavored 8 dollar convention center hot dog for so long. I wasn’t willing to try a “lobsta” roll for 12 dollars (I understand it’s made of lobster meat, but for 12 bucks I could get myself a nice steak), but the Dogzilla dog was great. Mixing salty meats with sweet King’s Hawaiian bread- I wish I had thought of it 😛
Overall, I would say the AutoCon was one of the highlights of the car show year – the turnout was massive (the parking lot itself could’ve been a car show), the cars were great, the food was good, and I enjoyed the outdoor venue. The roll up stage was a great idea that really allowed the owner to talk details about their car, something that I think other shows should implement as well.
Thanks Justin at AutoCon for letting us cover the event, and once again congrats to ACE for winning a crapload of awards 😛 –Dave Luong, Madlight Media