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overview image of a line of cars on display at the San Marino Motor Classic

San Marino Motor Classic

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12th San Marino Motor Classic

overview of the 2023 San Marina Classic Car Show

You Don’t See That Every Day!

Entitled the San Marino Motor Classic, the show went off for the 12th time, and it attracted a considerable list of expensive metal, from Auburns to Rolls Royces, Packards to Cords.

By Brian Kennedy

Thu, Sep 7, 2023 09:11 PM PST

Sunday, August 27th dawned clear and way too hot to stand in an unshaded spot in San Marino’s Lacy Park, but that did not deter dedicated car nuts from putting on a show of considerable proportions. Entitled the San Marino Motor Classic, the show went off for the 12th time, and it attracted a considerable list of expensive metal, from Auburns to Rolls Royces, Packards to Cords.

little classic red car at the San Marina Classic Car Show
Image by Gabriela Moya

It was hard not to appreciate the brass-era cars that arrayed themselves in some shade near the entrance, and impossible to miss the Ferraris spread out over the lawn in the center of the massive park. Down from them, tucked away in the southwest corner of the venue, Porsches of many varieties waited inspection. Somewhere close by were the giant classics that used to sit in the driveways of the rich.

the Ferraris at the 12th annual San Marina Classic Car show
Image by Gabriela Moya

Together, these cars made up the bulk of the entries, and surely the majority of the value of the mechanical marvels on display. But in a “been there, done that” kind of mood, I’d rather showcase three other cars, ones that make you say, “Well, you don’t see that every day.” These are a Chrysler station wagon, a Buick sports coupe, and a relatively little-known muscle car. Each had its particular and compelling charms, and a proud and interesting owner to go with them.

Jay Leno and unknown other dude in classic car
Of course Jay Leno stops by! (Image by Gabriela Moya)

The station wagon was a 1980 Chrysler LeBaron Town and Country with 7500 miles on it, a woody-style wagon way past the time when the side panels on these cars actually came from trees. The low mileage doesn’t make the current owner, Aaron Leider, afraid to drive it. He had piloted it in from Palm Springs the day before the show, the longest drive at 240 miles round trip that he’s had it on in his tenure as owner, a seven-year history. How’d he come by the car? He went to a high-end auction in Santa Monica and saw it standing off by itself. He decided it needed a good home, and he snagged it. The car rides under the power of the familiar 318-CID V8 engine. At this show, it was in the preservation class, since it is almost untouched from new. The owner also noted that this car, along with several others, were competing in the all-new Station Wagon class at this show.

overview of the 12th annual San Marino Car Show
Mercedes-Benzs in line (Image by Gabriela Moya)

The Buick was a Grand National, all-original as well, at 34,000 miles. It’s a California car originally sold in San Francisco. Owners Ken Millington and Sarah Elsworth spotted it in an online seller’s website and flew up from Santa Barbara to snag it in Elk Grove, CA. After describing that day, Ken was clear in his advice, “Go look at any car you’re thinking of buying. I’ve bought a couple sight unseen, and they weren’t anything like what I expected.” The couple put in a deposit and flew home the same day, picking the car up in the days thereafter. It was their second GN. Ken had previously had one that he sold, and he decided that with the kids now out of the house, it was time to replace the car he missed. As for the mileage, he says, “With this mileage, it’s a drivable car, and I like driving it,” so he doesn’t mind putting some more clicks on the clock.

overview of the 12th annual San Marino Classic Car Show
Image by Gabriela Moya

The muscle car was a 1972 AMC AMX which belongs to Mark Fletcher, and believe it or not, it came with the urn containing the remains of the brother of the original owner. That has now been returned to the family,  but that didn’t happen until the urn took a last ride with Mark before it was given back. This AMX was special for more than that, including the fact that it had travelled just 6500 miles from new and was essentially untouched. Any service parts that Fletcher has taken off, such as brake parts, have been carefully preserved.

brown classic car on display at the 12 annual San Marino Classic Car Show
Image by Gabriela Moya

The original owner bought the car in Hays, Kansas, and immediately had the dealer install factory side pipes, as Mark says, “His toy from day one.” Mark has taken on the responsibility of preserving the car exactly as it was back then, down to replacing hose clamps and heater hoses with originals. “Original cars don’t win concours, but it still needs to be seen, because here’s this piece of history I have hidden in a private garage.” He has had some fun with it aside from standing on the show field, driving it a few hundred miles since he’s had it.

car on display at San Marino Classic Car Show
1972 American Motors AMX (Image by Gabiela Moya)

So those three cars are not the high end of this show (though the AMX is at this point a six-figure car), but they’re cars well worth seeing and hearing the stories of, things you don’t see every day.

Oh, and one more thing you don’t see every day? Jay Leno, who was captured just as he scooted out of the park just past mid-morning. Well, actually, I’ll take that back. We saw him at this show last year, so if not quite every day, at least an occurrence with some frequency.

car on display at the San Marino Car Show
1979 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds W-30 (Image by Gabriela Moya)

The show wrapped up in mid-afternoon, and around the streets of Lacy Park, trailers were stuffed full of goodies, many probably to be shown more this year. Hopefully, all are treasured and used—if sparingly—the way my three out-of-the-ordinary favorites are.

About The Author

Brian Kennedy's profile picture

Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy always wanted a ’66 Mustang. 10 years ago, he bought one – and he’s been restoring it ever since. Brian extended his passion for cars by covering events for magazines like Grassroots Motorsports, Sportscar, and Victory Lane – e.g., events in Cart, Pro Rally, Formula Atlantic, the SCCA Runoffs, Trans Am, SVRA, VSCDA, and VARA. He’s also profiled a number of cars and interviewed a number of personalities – among them: Gene Felton (IMSA), Hurley Haywood, Jerry Seinfeld, and Nigel Olsson.

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