AutoMatters & More: 4th of July Car Show & a Momentous Announcement

'32 Ford Roadster
‘32 Ford Roadster

There was much to choose from for things to do on the 4th of July.

Option one was arriving in downtown San Diego early in the day, which would have been necessary to claim a good spot by the water’s edge to watch the “Big Bay Boom” fireworks extravaganza at 9 pm.

Option two was going to East County San Diego to drive my Miata in an all-Miata 4th of July parade through the town of Julian — known for its gold mining history, its famous apple pie and plentiful antique shops.

Option three was purchasing an annual pass online and then spending the 4th of July at SeaWorld San Diego, ending the day with its festive fireworks show.

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 coupe
1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 coupe

Last, but not least, option four was waking up early enough to drive to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, California, to take pictures and chat with people about their cars at the “4th of JULY CAR SHOW 2021,” for all makes, models and years. For as good as a single-marque car show can be, like last week’s “Fabulous Fords Forever,” the additional variety of vehicles in an all makes, models and years event can make those car shows especially interesting. You never know what you might find there.

Perhaps a bit too ambitiously, I chose a combination of options three and four — and I pulled it off!

I arrived at Bates Nut Farm just before 9 a.m. I took photos of many of the vehicles, and chatted with proud owners.

Electrified Cobra
Electrified Cobra

One described the ’32 Ford as “America’s hot rod.” He told me that it was the first V-8. “Everybody fell in love with them and they started hot-rodding them.”

The owner of a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 coupe told me that he bought it because he had a ’49 Olds Coupe in high school.

A white 2006 Scion xB wagon was heavily — but tastefully — customized. Its owner was a confectionary chef for “Hot Import Nights” when he bought its stock in 2008. His intent was to sell at the events and have a show car. To give you an idea of the extent of his modifications, get this: he cut out the original floor and cold-welded in a different floor (from the Toyota bB?) that friends sent him from Japan, so that he could install adjustable Toyota rear seats that fold forward and tuck behind the front seats.

Customized 2006 Scion xB
Customized 2006 Scion xB

Dario is part of the diverse “Desert Dash Rally” group that was organized by Splash Automotive Detail Spa in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

An all-wheel-drive, electrified Cobra started out as a normal ICE car. Since then, with a lot of trial and error, its owner widened it, stretched it about 1-1/2 feet and installed inexpensive, junkyard Tesla parts that include two Model 3 electric motors.

As I’d hoped, towards the end of the show I discovered a car that I hardly ever see: Volvo’s 1800ES two-door sport wagon. That car’s design has aged very well. Though I seriously considered buying one of these when they were new, my practical nature compelled me instead to purchase a 1973 Volvo 144 four-door sedan.

Special events are often held on the beautiful grounds of Bates Nut Farm, where there are also farm animals for kids to pet and feed, and a very well-stocked farm store with all kinds of candies, jams, knick-knacks and, of course, nuts! Learn more at

“Ignite Fireworks” at SeaWorld San Diego
“Ignite Fireworks” at SeaWorld San Diego

I departed the car show in time to make the long drive to SeaWorld San Diego, where I arrived at around 6 p.m. There I watched a couple of shows and celebrated by watching their “Ignite Fireworks.”

Now, as promised, I have a momentous announcement to make. For years I’ve intended to create a dedicated website where you can read about and see much of what I’ve covered in hundreds of columns since 2002. To commemorate column number 700 next week, my goal is to take my brand new “AutoMatters & More” website live.

To have any chance of pulling this off, I’ll have to upload vintage columns around-the-clock between now and then. To save a lot of time, I’ll copy and paste relatively low resolution, small photos, which I will eventually replace with higher resolution, larger and re-edited versions.

Wish me luck! Next week I’ll let you know how I did.

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Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #699