Among the handful of issues identified in the PPI for my car prior to acquisition last summer was “Windshield wiper system inoperable”. “Bah!” I exclaimed with a cavalier wave of the hand – it’s not like we leave in Seattle! Who cares about windshield wipers when you’re in sunny Southern California? The number of times it rains each year here can be counted on one hand, and odds are that those days will never happen on a weekend. Or a Sunday for that matter. And so long as we’re playing those odds, the morning hours only number about 30% of the day…
Rewind to Sunday morning when that light coastal mist in Santa Monica turned into a heavier-than-anticipated slick of rain further inland as I bombed the 405 northward for Heritage Gruppe’s May Drivers Meeting. Not gonna lie - those first few minutes were pretty harrowing, as the moisture was just fine enough to bead into a couple hundred thousand drops the size of a pinhead. Note to readers: this effectively feels more or less like driving with a plastic shower curtain strapped around your head. Fortunately I discovered that the quicker you drive, the faster your windshield will shed itself of water, wipers functioning or not. We made it to our destination in one piece. Probably should have pre-ordered a bunch of gear from Tactical Safety (@tacticalsafetyla), HG's newest vendor on-site selling first aid kits and other safety gear to have in your trunk, just in case.
For the lovers of outdoors, automotive and most of anything else in Los Angeles, the rain is rarely your friend. But if I’m being honest, this past weekend’s meet was one of my favorites. In light of the somber aesthetic, there was an electricity in the air this time that hasn’t been around since pre-COVID times. Who gives a damn about a little bit of rain when we’re all feeling comfortable shaking hands and chatting about cars over a morning brew, finally standing closer than six feet apart?
I think one of the things that the weather brought to life is the passion that exists in the Heritage Gruppe community – rain or not, people come out to see each other and celebrate their cars. While I’m as big a fan as any seeing Le Mans winning racers at Malibu Country Mart and concours-ready classics, I am a much bigger fan of cars that are used how they were originally intended, no matter what the forecast says – driven. The rain brings that purist intention out. These things get dirty. @pitstopmotortuning's white GT3RS that rolled through presented the perfect canvas for a patchwork of road grime and brake dust, and dang if it didn't look absolutely stunning like that. Patina only means something if you earn it.
And speaking of patina, Justin Cashmore's (@oxtaco) lovely diesel Volkswagen Rabbit with a generous layer of rust was best-in-show for me. I have a particular soft spot for VW Golfs and Rabbits from the 70's, 80’s and early 90’s as I grew up driving around in my dad’s silver ’91 Golf, which eventually became one of the cars I learned to drive stick shift in. It was an OG fuel efficient vehicle, regularly getting over 30mpg combined. For me, these little hatches will always represent the perfect intersection of everything you need, and nothing you don’t (and have actual hand cranks to lower the windows for that period of time when one actually had to roll the windows down). Car and Driver did an excellent write up back in 1977 for anyone looking for some vintage reading over a morning espresso.
So next time you're checking your weather app and see little little rain clouds on the screen, don't let that deter you from heading out to Sun Valley - I promise you it's worth it. SoCal is a car mecca and we are spoiled with epic photographic scenes along the sunny coastal highways and canyon backroads, but the moody wet weather puts these beautiful machines in an entirely different light.
Make sure your calendars are marked for June 13th and July 11th! Until next time crew
- Brendan (@b.g.mckay)