(Words and Photos by Scott Liggett) – I had been hitting up the Car Craft Magazine’s Anti-Tour since 2006 when we headed down to San Diego to hit up Race Legal’s Friday Night Drags at the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium (Or, whatever they call it these days). But, I haven’t gone since 2009 when the Tour drove out in the desert to Firebird Raceway near Chandler, AZ to go drag racing. That’s what I liked about the Anti-Tour. They drove someplace cool and we beat on our cars.
I fell off the wagon for a couple years. In 2010, they headed out to Pheonix to go to a car show, but mostly got rained on. Last year, they drove up to the coast to Morro Bay for a car show in downtown. I didn’t go in 2010 because I didn’t feel like driving seven hours across the desert just park my car in front of a lawn chair. Last year, I missed the Anti-Tour because I was on a cruise to Italy and Greece. At least our ship wasn’t run aground by a captain showing off and we missed riots in Athens because they had a soccer game that day.
When I heard the itinerary for this year’s Anti-Tour; I surprised to hear that they were repeating last year’s tour. The dudes over at Car Craft decided to hit up the big show in Morro Bay again. I was a bit let down. I was hoping to go and pound on my Impala again on the drag strip or autocross, not drive all the way up there just to sit at a car show.
I talked to some of the regulars of the Anti-Tour and the consensus was that it was a great time. Also, I never been to Morro Bay and was curious to explore another town in the giant state of California. We also wouldn’t taking the boring freeways there and I’m always for a drive on the side roads.
This year the meet up and kick off point was at Wilwood Brake’s headquarters in Camarillo, CA. To get there, I had a couple choices; drive my ’65 Impala SS up the Hwy 101 in morning traffic, or take the Pacific Coast Highway up to Camarillo. I took the latter for no other reason is that it’s a gorgeous drive at sunrise.
Once at Wilwood’s facility, the guys from Wilwood gave us a great tour of their facility in action. Unfortunately, pictures weren’t allowed on the work room floor, so all I have are these two of a ’69 Camaro getting it’s suspension digitized for a new disc brake setup. I was amazed how many brake systems they make for the car and truck manufacturers. They whittle so many brake calipers that they sweep up 30 tons of aluminum to be recycled each month!!
After the tour, we had a kick off car show right in Wilwood’s parking lot. Check out the gallery of pictures we took that morning while downing bagels and coffee with our other two hands.
It was time to hit the road towards Morro Bay. Morro Bay is a tiny little hamlet right on the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles north of Santa Barbara. Driving up there on Hwy 101 is actually a beatiful drive; but Anti-Tour planner, Car Craft staffer John McGann had a more scenic route in mind. We headed straight north on State Route 33, then turned west towards the coast on State Route 166.
There is nothing quite like cruising down the highway with a bunch of cool cars.
Our first stop on State Route 33 was in Ojai to top off the gas tanks as we have about 150 miles of road ahead with no gas stations along the way. We literally took over this tiny little service station with rumbling cars.
SR33 is a windy, twisty road heading up into the Santa Ynez Mountains, it is easy to get separated from the other cars as I noticed while taking these pictures of the tunnels. I hit the gas to catch up but quickly discovered that the group had pulled over to let us catch up.
Our first unscheduled stop was literally in the middle of nowhere up near the top of the Pine Mountain Summit when a Tourer known as Mike had an issue with his 454 powered 65 Malibu. It just shut off on him and he coasted off the side of the road. One thing about bangshifters cruising together, when one car goes down, nearly two dozen people stop to help. I thought there were too many mechanics trying to diagnose his issue, so I stepped back and took some pictures of the scenery.
That ’31 Model A was driven by a character named Aqua Bob, a close friend of Mikes. He drove Mike back down to Ojai to the parts we passed earlier to get what was needed to fix his Malibu, but it turns out the module wiring harness in his HEI was frayed and shorting out.
Later, we stopped in a town so small it only qualified being a wide spot in the road for lunch. The Burger Barn in New Cayuma fed us some of the best grub of the whole trip. SR166 is amazing road as it runs from the coastal range, through green hills with cattle ranches and wineries, then climbs up into the high desert scrub brush where there are oil fields to where it ends near the south end of the San Juaquin Valley just south of Bakersfield, We went west through the prettier parts of SR 166. In the late after noon we made to Morro Bay and in sight of the Morro Rock.
The car show in Morro Bay encompasses the whole town for the whole weekend. Friday festivities includes open houses at the local shops and a cruise through the area. It ends with a cruise through town in a circle. The best view is to find a spot on the route, park your butt and take pics.
That cruise included really bad luck for one of the Anti-Tour regulars. Aqua Bob was cruising that red Model A when the throttle linkage broke and the throttle hung wide open. He did what he could to stop a car he wasn’t familar with dodging at least six other cruisers before plowing into a truck exiting a parking lot. Bob said he was trying to find the key, but in the stress of the moment forgot it was not on the right side of the steering column, but under the dash on the left side. He remembered too late to save the car.
Saturday was the big car show that literally took over the entire downtown area of Morro Bay. I’m not a big fan of just sitting beside my car at shows, so I walked the show with Randal Burns taking pictures and talking to other show goers. By the end of the day, I’d had been on my feet the whole day and wanted a beer. We met up with Car Craft staffers Jeff Smith, Doug Glad, John McGann, and Tayler Le ease our pain with alcohol and food. Later, Randal and I ended up at a local bar with a great band and I killed what was left of my voice chatting up other Anti-Tour goers.
Sunday morning, the Anti-Tour group had dwindled down to less than a dozen as people head off in different directions home. Many were sleeping off the night before. McGann thought it would great to start off by driving over the narrow isthmus to Morro Rock for a closer look of the shore.
We had to wait for Doug Glad to stop watching the morning surfers catching waves before hitting the road back to Los Angeles. We didn’t mind because the view was so nice.
The road back included a few miles down the famous Hwy 1, I followed Randal and his forum famous Silver Buick a time. He hunkered down and took off because he had a lot farther to go that day.
The drive near the cool coastal areas in the spring means everything is still green and the hills still look great before turning brown during the warm summers. I enjoy this time of year for the views we have.
That green ’05 Mustang GT convertible belongs to CC chief editor Doug Glad. The muscular look comes from wider factory wheels and a lowered stance. Muscular power comes in the way of a supercharger on the 4.6 ltr engine. He has a 5 speed backing it up.
That’s John McGann’s ’03 Crown Victoria he bought at auction from the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s department. He reinstalled all the antennas on the car instead filling all the holes before repainting the car. He lowered the car on widened cop car wheels and adding 40 series rubber. He rebuilt the engine with Trick Flow heads, cams, and full length headers. Cops wish they this car to patrol in.
McGann and I finished off the weekend by skipping off Hwy 101 to test our car’s mettle on Decker Rd’s twisties that ends on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
Despite my misgivings on going on a cruise to a car show; I had a really great time. I didn’t get to beat my Impala on a drag strip or on an autocross; but I did get to spend the weekend cruising across California’s beatiful highways with a bunch of like minded gearheads. I spent an afternoon picking Jeff Smith’s brain bench racing this and that; and listening to his stories from his thirty year career in the magazine business. I got to hang out, drink, eat and gab until I lost my voice with a bunch of really cool guys and gals. In the end, I was glad I went. I hope to see some of you bangshifters on the next Anti-Tour.