We Drove Tastefully in Malibu
Photography by Otis Blank, Jonathan WC Mills, and Saam Gabbay for Petrolicious
Sunday was a day of firsts. It was my first vintage car rally and Petrolicious’s first offline event. I would say, with no reservations, it was a successful experience for us both.
The rally was organized as a celebration of many of the cars and drivers whose stories have been featured on the most popular Petrolicious films. So, on Sunday morning I woke up early, got my coffee, woke my co-pilot; my ten-year-old son, and off we went. We were driving a black, 1965 Mustang convertible—a perfect car for the occasion.
We arrived at the edge of the Pacific and watched the rest of the cars arrive. One by one the cool ocean air was broken by a diverse group of engine noises: roaring Ferrari and Lamborghini V-12s, shrieking Nissan I-6s, a waffling Porsche flat-6, a plethora of high-strung Alfa Romeo fourbangers, and our own thumping V8 American beat. A grey morning turned into a riot of color, sound, and motion, and we hadn’t even begun to drive!
As we watched the arrivals, my son was particularly impressed with Resident Petrolista and star of three Petrolicious films, Mr. James Chen. James arrived in his Lamborghini Countach and proceeded to wow the crowd by popping up a scissor door and executing a perfect, ‘Countach Reverse’—while sitting on the sill and looking over the back of the car. It was cool to see generations collide as that same car was certainly a favorite of mine at a similar age.
Other notable arrivals included television star and Porsche collector, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, who brought a former ‘ice racing’ Porsche 356, and our own Drive Tastefully Malibu event winners, Sumner Norman and his beautiful Mini Cooper as well as Greg Vargas in his black Corvair, who won spots to the event courtesy of our event sponsors, Autodromo and Hagerty.
For me, it was inspiring to see so many familiar faces and unique cars all in one place. In fact, our site and its success is due in no small part to the cars and drivers who offer a glimpse into their lives and their passions. This made our event more like a reunion, and less like a gathering of strangers.
After some brief words and suggestions from head Petrolista, Afshin Behnia, it was time to head off. As the sound of forty engines lit up the air, we pulled out behind Mark Lundquist’s Chevelle. Yet, I am embarrassed to admit only three turns later, we were lost. With my son, Jacob’s, help, along with the rally map, we were able to turn things around. (Note: read the rally map before rallying!) Back on track, I pushed the 1965 Mustang hard in order to catch up.
Even while driving fast I had time to note the beauty all around us: shaded glades of live oak, boulder-strewn fields, and wide-open vistas. As we pushed the big V8 hard, we passed through a few clouds of puffy blue smoke, so we knew we were getting close to the pack! A few corners more and the colorful rears of a trio of Alfas appeared. We caught up! My son was delighted as we eased back into the line of cars.
In truth, I was surprised most of the cars made the rally with no major mechanical issues, however, as you would expect on any adventure of this sort, there were one or two stops along the way. Yet, every time we passed a broken-down car, there were two or three other cars there to help. The spirit of camaraderie was high, as were many of the participants’ mechanical skills.
When we finally reached our destination, Rosenthal Estate (a vineyard and estate in the Malibu hills) pulling through the gates onto the crushed rock driveway was like entering a different era. The small road wound its way past grape vines and sculptures to a low-slung Spanish-style building tucked into a hillside. It was a perfect setting for this amazing collection of cars.
It was a wonderful day for me. I was able to share a unique experience with my son, pilot a fantastic vintage car, and spend a beautiful morning making new friends.