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California Dreamin' in My Rearview Mirror

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Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing replica by Gullwing GmbH

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing replica by Gullwing GmbH

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Flashback 1970, Santa Ana, California: Seems like eons ago, but the images are as vivid as a high-resolution, 3D hologram.

Yep, Fashion Square as it was known hosted the Concours d’Elegance. After noticing a newspaper ad in the Orange County Register, I told my father about the event, and the rest is history.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon at the mall. It was also just the perfect day to obsess over four-wheeled dream machines competing for awards and, more importantly, for my adoration.  To see all of these seemingly flawless automobiles on display along the walkways through the mall was mind-boggling, particularly since the event was the first Concours I had ever attended.

While my DNA was programmed to succumb to the allure of cars since early childhood, I gravitated toward all the glorious sheetmetal, Borrani wire wheels, wood-rimmed steering wheels and Connolly hides like meteors en route for planet earth. All the stuff that I had spent years drooling over in Road &Track, Car and Driver, and Autoweek had suddenly come to life.

There were three vehicles that triggered an unbridled autonomic response as I found myself salivating with delight. I could almost taste these artifacts of industrial design. They were all exquisite in their distinctive appearance.

There were Jaguars, Austin Healeys, MGs, Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, and Astons, but the cars that made it happen for me were: a pristine BRG Mini Cooper replete with Union Jack roof graphics, polished Minilites, a Nardi steering wheel, and a polished alloy (quick-release) fuel cap and shift knob; a sky-blue Lotus Elite with Lady Godiva gracing the twin-cam valve cover; and a German racing silver Mercedes SL Gullwing.

I have since attended and reported on many Concours on both coasts and each time I do, I am fondly reminded of the indelibly “delicious” images that remain in my cerebral rearview mirror and continue to make me lick my chops with carefree abandon miles away from the nearest In-N-Out burger bar or Godiva chocolate bar. Bon appetit!

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What? You haven't heard? High Gear Media is bringing one lucky, talented car enthusiast to the 2011 New York Auto Show. We're searching for the greatest auto-show moment of your life--stories like this one. Once you get your "moment" published, you're eligible to win a trip for two to New York City, along with insider access to the show. Just sign up here and tell us your best auto-show memory, and stay tuned for the winners!

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