PASO ROBLES — One thing California certainly isn’t lacking is its trove of exceptional classic cars. More than 250 of them were on display at the Warbirds Wings and Wheels Car Show and Swap Meet at the Estrella Warbird Museum this past Saturday. And if you were looking for vintage parts or even to start your own project, the swap meet and car corral had cars, tires, chassis, seats and engines covering the runway as far as the eye could see.
During opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., cars were still rolling onto the tarmac.
“This is the 9th show we have done and we have over 250 cars as of this morning,” said Scott Stelzly, Vice President of the Warbird Museum and first time director of the car show and swap meet. “And then we have another 200 swappers and a car corral where they are actually selling cars… these used to be two separate events but we combined them into two events so there are more things for people to do and see. With the numbers in years past for the two events combined we are expecting over 5,000 people.”
One standout vehicle was a ‘73 240z that was part of the Anheuser-Busch team, owned by Bob Clucas of Atascadero. Previously driven by James Brolin and Clint Eastwood, they called this car the Giant Killer because it raced against corvettes and the cobras with much bigger engines and driver Walt Maas would beat them all, Clucas said. To restore the car to its racing glory, Clucas purchased a beer can off of eBay with an image of the car on it in order to copy the colors, the font and the graphics.
Another impressive vehicle on display was a 1921 Stutz owned by locals Jan and Meredith Voboril, also major sponsors of the event. The car was purchased at a Bonham’s auction in Monterey last year for $540,000. With its factory designed cutout to make the car louder and more powerful, the Stutz is referred to as the first “muscle car.”
“If you imagine the Great Gatsby, those guys with their furs and their goggles, racing around and going to nightclubs...all their parents’ money was going into these cars,” said daughter Michelle Voboril Hido. “We have a couple of vineyards here and my dad has been collecting cars forever so we have a barnful now and we are taking them out and about.”
Although the show as a whole was family friendly, little spats of jealousy and suspicions of metaphorical infidelity between the collectors their wives and their cars were lurking. Paula Porter from Cambria was passing time in her foldable armchair next to a Silver Avanti and when asked about her history with car collecting she said, “at one point my husband had three of these and I told him I was going to get a divorce and name ‘Avanti’ as ‘the other woman.’”
And over at the swap meet, when Dave Edwards’ was told the photograph that was just taken of him with his ‘37 Chevy was for the local paper, his face dropped as he replied, “I told my wife I was somewhere else.”
Considering the time and money these vehicles have taken from some of these collectors lives and bank accounts, it can be easy to understand why. Steve Kensrue from Cambria with his ‘34 Roadster Pickup said after years of restoration, “I pulled the plug at 100K. The engine was free so all the money went into the fabrication. I had no idea it was going to be that expensive. I never intended to go there.”
You may contact reporter Madeline Vail at [email protected]