Hopkins’ book captures Nawrocki and his ash frame.
  • Hopkins’ book captures Nawrocki and his ash frame.
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She: “This is you in your element. I love it.”

He: “I’ll show you another car I could have bought for $500,000...”

The owner of a local Mercedes garage is showing a 1965 Pontiac GTO. “I have 17 cars,” he says, “doesn’t everybody?”

An admirer shows him a picture on his phone. “I bought this one from Philip Rivers in 2012. His wife said to get rid of it.”

“That’s because he has nine kids!” says the garage man. “That’s why I bought all of my cars before I got married at 43. I’m not stupid.”

“I was made in 1931,” says a tidy old-timer standing by a 1931 Cadillac V-16. “So they made a good car that year. There’s no workmanship any more. Quick and dirty.” He takes a gander at the hood ornament — more of a figurehead, really. “I could make that very easily, because I work in wax.” Then he tidily rattles off the steps involved.

A young woman, standing near the new Porsches on display: “Cars are getting better. I would rather have one of these.” A young man, agreeing: “There’s AC, there’s a stereo, everything works…”

White’s singular Porsche.

White’s singular Porsche.

“Do you know Porsche makes more per car than any other maker?” asks Phil White, owner of a one-of-a-kind 1951 Sauter Porsche 356. “They’ve got 911s over there for $180,000! Of course, I’m looking at spending a million dollars on a Peugeot that won Le Mans in 1938, and here I am complaining about $180,000… Really interesting car, the Peugeot; no doors. The French government is telling me I can’t have it, but the guy’s got a piece of paper from them saying that if he sells it within 10 years of buying, it’s okay.”

David Bryan, President of the San Diego Miata Club, says he does not know if Miatas will ever appear at the Concours, though “Miata is starting to restore some of the early models — for a price, of course.” He likes Miata because “you can drive it like you stole it and it won’t break.” Nearby, a doyenne declares: “I love cars. The hard thing for me is, these are your babies. You have to be careful with them.” But Chris Erickson, who chairs the accompanying Tour D’Elegance, says that 105 cars joined him yesterday for a 60-mile jaunt around San Diego, including a century-old Bugatti.

A banner advertises the upcoming Steve McQueen rally, and his machines are onsite: the Hollywood gearhead lending everyone his cool. Among them: his ’73 Honda CR250 Elsinore motorcycle, and his Stearman plane flying overhead, sporting the number he was assigned at reform school in Chino: 3188. “I shoulda been a pilot,” says the owner of a yellow ’72 Ferrari Dino. “I would have been a good one. If I can go that fast in a car…”

File under: always another Concours: ““There’s a car for sale here today that would get you into Pebble Beach,” one man tells another. “It’s just a matter of zeroes.”

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