Mulholland Meets Cars And Coffee At ‘Highway Earth’
Photography by Patrick Stevenson
It is 6am on a Sunday and I am wide awake. Well, mostly. Alarm silenced for the second time, coffee cup emptied for the third, I am up and out the door for the only good reason to rise with the sun on a weekend: cars. Soon enough the caffeine feels unnecessary, as I am clipping apexes on a blissfully empty Mulholland Drive just as the sky fills with orange and gold. A light fog hugs the ground and starts to dissipate with the warmth of the day, and driving in the canyons above Beverly Hills it feels like it will be a particularly good one at that.
I am headed to the Highway Earth car show held in Franklin Canyon Park—a special mix of natural and mechanical scenery awaits. On most weekends I find myself at parking-lot-hosted Cars & Coffee events or else some other random car show, but none of them prime you like taking a tear across Mulholland en route.
Highway Earth is not your typical weekend morning car show. Hosted by the automotive photographer Evan Klein, the goal is to create a lifestyle experience for people to tour the amazing car culture that Los Angeles has to offer along with some of its best topography. Rather than finding a large strip mall parking lot and having all the cars in one place with a Jamba Juice constantly in the background, Highway Earth uses the 1.2-mile loop road at Franklin Canyon Park to sprinkle cars around the beautiful water reservoir. The park has several turnouts around the road, and Klein organized groups of marques from around the world in these little pockets.
At one corner I am stood admiring a circle of Alfas, the next I’m drinking in the details of a converted Porsche 912 with an electric engine, and better still was the Lancia Stratos in the next lot within shouting distance from a group of vintage domestic vans. Later in the morning, I was passed by what looked like Bonnie and Clyde in their blacked out early Ford, while standing next to a mint Rosso Corso Ferrari 328. The winding loop of a road makes for a unique show venue, and though I’m not much of a hiker, this nature walk was quite good. Walking around this tranquil park also gave me the chance to picture Los Angeles before it became so built up and developed, the narrow park road conjuring daydreams what it might have been like to tear through the hills in the 1960s.
At the end of the show I find myself wondering why more car shows aren’t this well executed, but thankfully the trend does seem to be moving in this direction, wherein the location is given careful thought rather than just the list of cars that show up.
On the way out I came upon my favorite of the day; parked in the dirt lot was a well used Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing. Seeing one of these cars is a rare sight, even in Los Angeles, and sporting a patina’d red on red suit, this car had plenty of character to back up the shapely bodywork. I was surprised that it wasn’t parked in the show itself. Just goes to show that the parking lot is always worth a visit, especially at events as special as this one.