Car Insights, Classic Cars, Collectors, Feature Story, Features

Comedians, cars and coffee in Queensland

Comedians Cars Coffee Australia

Why Cars and Coffee events have taken over our weekend streets, and why it can be great news for mechanics.

Have you seen the Netflix show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? It’s as uncomplicated as the title suggests. Comedian (and car nut) Jerry Seinfeld hosts, he pilots a classic car and has a well-known funny person in the passenger seat. They drive, they chat, they grab a brew.

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It sounds banal but is addictively watchable. Why? It’s social and, for we car folk, utterly relatable. If you combine interesting vehicles, like-minded enthusiasts and a fresh cuppa it’s tapping into something many of us do each month: the local Cars and Coffee event.

Image: Iain Curry

Unlike most car shows, there’s no entry fee. Nor is there a set time you must arrive and leave, nor any judging or boring speeches. There should be no “sponsored” sections, no cars roped off so you can’t get close, and no trade stands. If there’s any of the above, they’re doing it wrong.

You should just park up, buy your morning coffee (and cake, doughnut, pastry, etc.) and wander around the gathered eclectic machinery. You’ll bump into old mates and make new ones, while the variety and quality of cars on show never ceases to amaze.

Image: Iain Curry

Java junkies

Mechanics with a proper passion for cars are often found there. You may well have been up to your elbows in gearboxes and diffs most of the working week, but come the weekend, a Cars and Coffee is a decent palate cleanser to remind why you fell in love with cars in the first place.

Admiring rumbling V8 muscle cars pulling up is a darn sight more enjoyable than diagnosing the latest electric gremlin on an over-complicated Euro. Plus, what a superb opportunity to become better known in the car enthusiast world. Trust me, if you’re chatting to a car person and they learn you’re a mechanic, the questions come thick and fast.

From servicing to full restorations, there’s always work needed on these four-wheel pride and joys. A mechanic’s very attendance at a Cars and Coffee immediately endears them to the gathered enthusiasts: “Hey, he’s a car guy, just like me. Next I need some work done, I’ll give him a call.” If you need to drum up some business, here’s a captive market all in one place.

Image: Iain Curry

My local Cars and Coffee is hosted by the Sir Henry Royce Foundation and German Bakehouse Café in Coolum Beach, Queensland. The location’s near perfect. It’s on a trading estate with ample parking spaces, and being Saturday morning (7am-10am) it’s typically pretty quiet.

First in, best pressed

Attendees park up outside the car museum, café, vacant spaces at local businesses or simply on the street. There are never any dramas, requests to move along or the council waving permit documents around. It’s just a social gathering without the red tape nonsense.

“I come here each month because I’m a car guy at heart,” said Blair Aspinall, a local mechanic.

“Some of my customers come here too, and it’s nice to speak with them outside the workshop environment. We can just be car nerds rather than going over a bill for work done. I’ve made many new contacts, and as I specialise in Japanese cars, make a point of chatting to owners of those. Almost all are looking for people to help on their cars, or help source parts.”

Espresso repairs

Blair mentioned he’d helped an elderly bloke suffering starting issues with his Ford XA Falcon at a recent event. “I told him I’d have a quick look at it, and it was just a bad connection easily fixed. He tried giving me some money but I refused. Sometimes you just want to help out.” Indeed. But no doubt the old bloke will take his Falcon to Blair’s workshop for future work.

Image: Iain Curry

Despite summer storms playing havoc with the latest Coolum Cars and Coffee, some 80 cars attended. This was down on the usual 150 or so, but the quality was as high as ever, without being elitist. Seriously, where else could you find a $10 million 2005 Pagani Zonda C12 S Roadster parked close to a pair of Porsche 911 GT3s and one of the earliest Series 1 Jaguar E-Types?

Then there was a 1927 Ford Model T, 1983 Honda Accord hatchback, a couple of modified widebody and be-winged Toyota 86s, an imported 1997 Toyota Crown Royal, and a charming little Mini Moke. It’s cliched, but there’s absolutely something for everyone at these events.

Image: Iain Curry

A bonus with the Coolum Cars and Coffee’s location is, if you want more, a $10 entry fee gets you into the Royce Foundation Coolum Showroom. This includes a guided tour of some fascinating vehicles, plus an engine display including a 1945 Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 27-litre, as found in the Supermarine Spitfire.

Bean scene

“It’s a really good social event; we’ve stumbled upon a nice recipe here,” said Frank Carroll, Trustee of the Foundation, and who has overseen the first 50 Cars and Coffee at Coolum events. “Having the space to host so many cars is important, and it’s been great for local business and sparked a number of other events. There’s always something different to see; new people always come each month.”

Much like Jerry Seinfeld’s TV show, it’s the vehicles that are the everyman common ground. Seinfeld’s a millionaire, as are guests like Jim Carrey, Barack Obama, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy, but the vehicles are a great leveller.

Image: Iain Curry

Its featured attainable classics including a VW Beetle, Mercedes 300D wagon, Fiat 600 Multipla and FJ40 Toyota LandCruiser – and they can invoke just as much passion as a Lamborghini Countach, Mercedes 300SL Gullwing or Ferrari 288 GTO.

Same goes at my local Cars and Coffee. That Pagani Zonda was, of course, incredible to see. As was a Ferrari 458 juxtaposed beside a freshly restored split-screen VW Kombi. But, with coffee in hand, I was just as drawn to the old Honda Accord hatch. And, judging by the conversation happening beside it, I wasn’t the only one.

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