The Road To Heaven Is Paved With Vipers And Citroëns
Photography by Hayley Holmes
Sundays are for sleeping in. But with a last minute, “Hey, there’s a car show, you coming?” the night prior, I pulled myself out of bed before dawn, gulped a quick cup of coffee, shoved the battery into my camera, and headed out the door. I was on my way to Sunset Boulevard with the instructions to look for a Land Rover of a model and color not described—Sunset is a strange place to be at sunrise.
It was overcast, barren. An LA tumbleweed, in this case a stray bottle of Fireball, skipped across the pavement in front of me. Through the neon and the stillness, a muted marine blue Series III Defender ambled towards me. The passenger door flung open. Alex, the founder of Drive Coffee, smiled from behind the wheel. “Hey, sorry I’m late! I just drove from Orange County and this thing is a little, well you know… slow.” Drive Coffee generously agreed to provide the morning’s pick-me-up by bringing a delicious cold brew to the show, and well, literally picking me up too.
I crawled onto the bench seat, was met by the scent of roasted beans and exhaust, and we soon began bumping along towards our final destination: Franklin Canyon Park outside of Beverly Hills, the site of the Highway Earth Show. As we began our ascent into the forested hills, it began to lightly rain. The Defender chugged steadily through the mist, a Mercedes impatiently swerved behind us. “It’s Sunday morning, where do you have to be? Relax. Have some coffee. Enjoy the scenery,” Alex mused.
The rain ceased and a few moments later we were at the entrance to the park. Expecting a grassy concours-type event, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not at all the case. Highway Earth aims to fuse the beauty of the natural world and the man-made machines we choose to build from it—and the presentation of such is completely spot on. Whereas most car gatherings, one wanders across an open sandbox to whatever catches an eye, Highway Earth is linear. There is one road to follow, a 1.2-mile heavily timbered loop around a lake, with scattered hollows carved out for individual marques and a little bit of everything in between. It’s a walking outdoor museum where one moves either forward or backwards, to Citroëns or Lotuses.
Created by Evan Klein, renowned LA-based automotive photographer for Road & Track, Motor Trend, Automobile, and more, he describes the event as a place for people to share their stories or at least some spiced watermelon from the fruit cart situated somewhere in between the pines and the Shelby Cobras.
The show, in its fifth season, welcomed approximately 241 cars. As I made my way around the loop, I began to notice what was so vastly different and frankly brilliant about the layout of this event compared to others I have covered. Instead of fighting through the crowd in an attempt to get a shot of a quarter panel that inevitably has someone’s leg in it, the majority of these cars were simply sitting solitary. With the owners on the other side of the lake enjoying the pocket of Porsches, or a group gathered around a Ferrari 250 TR Replica to listen in on its start-up, the ability to spread out affords you the opportunity to experience these vehicles in an altogether unique way: completely by yourself. And there’s something pretty magical about wandering through a forest and coming upon a Lancia Fulvia Rallye 1.3 S with nobody else around.
With free admission and parking for spectators, and a nominal fee of only $25 per car entry if you choose to display, I’d mark your calendar for next year’s Highway Earth if you live in or around Los Angeles. Always held right around the summer solstice, it’s a great departure from the standard car shows of the season. So come relax, have some coffee, and enjoy the scenery.