San Marino Motor Classic
A Story Told in Green
The story of seven cars on display at the 2022 San Marino Classics at Lacy Park, San Marino, California.
By Brian Kennedy
Sat, Sep 3, 2022 09:01 PM PST
All images by Gabriela Moya
The San Marino Motor Classic is both more fancy and less so than one might think. Reputed to be a high-end show, with its $35 price of spectator admission and whispers that it’s within shouting distance of Pebble-Beach in terms of the quality of display cars, it would seem to be catered to the elite, a gathering of a few million-dollar cars appreciated by a tux-wearing crowd sipping champagne. Yet while it does showcase a select group of premiere cars, many of the cars shown this year (August 28th, 2022) were decidedly more "for the people". That is, most were solid collectibles, but cars that real people could own, rather than Amelia-Island-level trailer queens.
Lacy Park in San Marino is the venue for the show, and every inch was crammed with delightful metal and enthusiastic spectators, far more of both than I had anticipated. Cars are curated - you have to apply for entrance, and not all cars which apply are admitted - but that didn’t prevent the list of entries from spanning the gamut of 1930s Packards and Auburns to 1980s Nissans and Toyotas. In addition, each year, there’s a featured marque or type of car. This year, in addition to entries for judging in many categories in the main show, there was a special Ferrari display accompanied by judging, as well as shows-within-the-show for Packards, Porsches, and Classics.
There was too much to profile everything, with ten pages of entries (more than 500) detailed in a glossy magazine that was being given out when one entered the park. So I’ve chosen seven green cars that tell the story of the show. Together, they range from the exotic to the everyday, and thus they represent well the range of cars featured at this enormous gathering.
1939 Graham Sharknose
First and most spectacular - a 1939 Graham Sharknose. Its stunning configuration grabs you as soon as you see it, looking like a stylized, chromed microphone from the golden age of radio - a product meant to be as thrilling to look at as it is functional.
However, it didn’t so much enthrall the people of its day. The design lasted only until 1940 before being dropped. At the show, one person standing near the Graham was overhead to say, "It matches my shoes - almost", which is kind of to miss the point about this car. The Graham was striking not only for its color but for the art deco, curving, undulating radiator area. It also featured square, flush-mounted headlights, an innovation for the day. This car came from South Pasadena in the care of John Larson.
1973 Datsun 620 Pickup Truck
On the opposite end of the value scale, but no less loved, was Baldwin Marchak’s 1973 Datsun 620 pickup truck. Painted in the owner’s garage, the truck still had original color on the panel behind the seat, and that swath of green looked remarkably like what had been sprayed on the body.
This was #940 Kelly Green, as called out on an under-hood sticker. Funny thing was, when Marchak went to replace that sticker during restoration, parts houses had stickers with other paint codes, but not that one, so he had to have this one printed.
Marchak grabbed this pickup three years ago because he loves Datsuns and owns several, and he was taken by the originality and paperwork that came with this truck, a one-owner vehicle when he bought it. It came from Riverside, and he has the warranty card, the original title, and the license plate frame from the selling dealer, Ontario Datsun.
1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Then there was a green 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a half-vinyl top and square opera window. So Seventies! And once again, popular amongst collectors and enthusiasts, perhaps because the supply of Sixties metal is starting to dwindle.
This one had a white interior with green appointments, including the steering wheel, column and associated components, as well as an eight-track player. And just to stick with the green theme, it was owned by Chris Green of Los Angeles.
1969 Porsche 912
Of course, there had to be a Porsche in this list, and this year’s star was a green 1969 912. Part of the appeal was that the car has had little more restoration than a repaint, and it gets driven in the hills surrounding Santa Barbara on an almost every-weekend basis. This is helped by the fact that three generations of Youngsons share it. Father Jim and son Max are the ones who drive it mostly, but grandpa John also logs some miles, though he has his own Porsche to pilot.
Jim explained: "I thought that I could get one that we could all enjoy and come to [events] like this". Max also digs driving the car, and he’s fully aware of the reputation these have for tail-happiness. "You’ve got the rear weight, and we’ve driven with other people who really push their cars, but it’s amazing how planted [this car is] even with how old the structure and technologies are. Ours feels like a boat, with stock ride height, so it’s a little higher, and the tires are a little taller. It’s not a muscle car, it’s a handling car. It’s very smooth. You take corners, and you’ve got these horsehair, comfortable seats and it almost feels like you’re kind of reclined watching TV while you’re weaving through these S-turns."
On the 912, the engine was taken apart and cleaned, but it is original otherwise. The paint is called "Irish Green", and what is sprayed on the exterior matches the color on the unpainted original panel inside the trunk/engine compartment. Jim bought the car from a firefighter in Ojai who had owned it for fifty years. The 912 was produced for only four years, ending in 1969.
1962 Plymouth Belvedere
Fifth was a 1962 Plymouth Belvedere, a Mosher car. Mosher is a tuner who specializes in 1962-65 Dodge and Plymouth B-Body Sedans (Savoys and Belvederes). This one came courtesy of Monty Bernstein and sported body-color painted steelies with hubcaps.
Under the hood was an engine with a 413 call-out on the valve covers. That will soon be replaced by a 440 of MOPAR derivation. The car is not matching numbers, as Bernstein explains it; it is a clone, but it’s done exactly as an original would be, and people who passed by it were quick to praise the car. He’s had the Belvedere since 2006. This is his third MOPAR.
1964 Oldsmobile Starfire
Sixth, take note of a 1964 Oldsmobile Starfire. Owned for the past three years by Art Rosen of Orange, it came from a consignment dealer in Laguna Beach. Mr. Rosen learned to drive in a car much like it, his father’s 1964 Olds. As he describes the car at show, "This is a slightly sportier version of the car my family had, but it’s basically the same car". Once he found the car, it took only a couple of days to finalize the deal. The color is called "Fern Mist" and the interior, "Jade", per the owner’s account.
Rosen explained that his parents had a greenish-blue Oldsmobile, and that he would have liked to have found one in that color, but he said, “This one has really grown on me.” No doubt—the color is beautiful and the finish spotless. The only thing Mr. Rosen has had to do was recently charge up the AC. The car is easy to drive, with power steering and brakes, the latter being four-wheel drums.
1962 VW Beetle
And seventh, but not least at all, was a 1962 VW Beetle. The color on this one, which appeared with matching luggage strapped into a roof rack, was turquois.
The couple who own the car, the Kyllingstads, bought the luggage while the car was out for paint, so they weren’t exactly sure of the hue, but it proves to have made a perfect match and is now strapped onto the roof rack for display - that is to say, not left there while the car is on the freeway. That luggage, by the way, is Samsonite Marble Green. The rack stays on the car, but the luggage goes behind the seat while the car is driven.
The Beetle was restored about ten years ago, after being bought for a 50th-birthday present for Nancy Kyllingstad. The couple drove it around for a year in its patina after buying it in Merced, then decided to do a full bare-metal restoration, which took a little over a year. They’ve now driven it about 6000 miles, often on PCH. It has been driven as far as Oak Glen, which is a good haul from Cypress.
To Sum Up... (Where's Jay?)
So that’s the show. Jay Leno was in attendance, driving a very slick car (a 1953 Cunningham C3) and legitimizing the day’s proceedings. Attendees milled around most of the day, the cars being entirely accessible. Then they took seats near the central path that runs a ring around the park and watched while various dream machines took a last lap before taking their leave.
About The Author
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.