Antique beauties La Jolla-bound

Rain or shine, car aficionados will be gathered in La Jolla Sunday for the annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic.

Early forecasts call for a bright sunny day that will play right into the hands of the collectors showing their antique beauties at La Jolla Cove and the organizers who hope the event will continue to grow.

Promote La Jolla leaders, who came up with the idea for the event five years ago, say the show is rapidly becoming a must-see early-season event for car aficionados.

This year’s show will feature “really an amazing field of entries,” with 145 cars entered in the juried section, from a 1932 Cadillac to a rare, 1956 Jaguar race car worth about $5 million, said Tiffany Sherer, executive director of the business improvement district.

More than 50 other cars are there just for the “show,” she added.

Bigger draw

The Classic is gradually morphing into something much more than what it started out to be, she added.

“This show is growing every year, and in the future we’d like to see it become a weekend destination event that people travel all over the world to see,” she said.

She said they’re also encouraging visitors to dine and shop in the Village before and after the show.

One car buff who has participated every year in the classic car event is La Jollan Neil Wichard, from a family of antique car restorers on the East Coast.

“My dad was one of the first real big collectors in the ‘50s and ‘60s in New York,” he said.

Dad’s inspiration

He described his dad’s collection as “one of the nicest in the country” and an inspiration to him.

“Over the years I’ve learned his lessons and followed his lead,” Wichard said.

About 20 antique car restorers from around the nation will receive special recognition at this year’s car classic.

“They’re the ones who find these gems in barns someplace and bring them to a butterfly restoration,” noted Wichard. “It’s preservation of history.”

Finding the gems

Wichard related a tale about an antique car his dad worked on years ago that’s since been acquired by a close friend.

“My dad had found a very unusual 1931 V12 Cadillac Sport Phaeton,” he said. “About six months ago, my friend here found it again and bought it. We’re using it as the poster car for the show.”

Once the car show begins, access along Coast Boulevard will be closed. Visitor parking will be offered for a $3 charge at Cave Street with shuttle service to and from the event.

Just in case

There’s a contingency plan if the weather changes and it rains: The show will move to a tented area in the Kellogg Park parking lot at La Jolla Shores.

There’s an admission charge for the first time this year, but those who don’t want to ante up can still get a glimpse of the cars from outside the 4-foot-high fence that will encircle much of Cove park.

The Motor Car Classic costs about $80,000 to stage, part of which is underwritten by sponsors.

Promote La Jolla has pledged to return about $40,000 in anticipated profits to much-needed community improvement projects.

Judges will pay close attention to details during the Motor Car Classic. File

Classic cars will fill the Cove. File

If you go:

  • La Jolla Motor Car Classic
  • Sunday
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • La Jolla Cove
  • Admission $15 in advance at

  • $20 at gate. Children under 12, free.
  • Parking for $3 at Cave Street; shuttle provided.