Every winter we are reminded how lucky we are to be auto enthusiasts in Southern California. While enthusiasts across the country are prepping for the holidays and Winter projects, we get to cruise all year long. With that in mind, John Hotchkis decided to organize our first H-Team car cruise through some of the most well-known driving roads in the world – and pair it with a car show that benefits a very worthwhile charity – all on a Sunday morning in December!
For those not in the know, the H-Team is an exclusive group of drivers that run Hotchkis Total Vehicle Systems – but joining the H-Team requires more than just suspension parts. All members share a common belief: that cars are built to be driven, and driven hard. H-Team members would rather flog the wheel out of their car on a road course or autocross track than park a static car show; or drive the long way home because it involves a canyon road then take the freeway. With that in mind, we invited a group of drivers to join us at the annual Motor4Toys charity supercar show in Woodland Hills, California, and used the show as a jumping-off point for a day of high-octane adventure.
Motor4Toys has been a gearhead staple in So Cal for the past 7 years. Unlike traditional car shows, Motor 4 Toys has a very casual setting. There is no assigned parking and you can come and go as you please. The only rule: bring at least one toy per car and donate it to the Toys for Tots program that benefits high-risk children in need. Dustin Troyan, the organizer of the show, does a fantastic job and despite gloomy weather forecasts he outdid himself this year. Drawing over 3,000 cars and tens of thousands of donated toys, the show offers the opportunity to see an incredible array of heavy metal – from classic supercars like the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 to modern exotics, restored muscle cars, Jeeps, pro-touring Camaros, rally cars and more.
On Sunday morning, we rose with sun and met up with Mike and Barbara Hickman in their Chevy C10, Dan Weishaar in his 1962 Dodge (his Road Runner is in the Hotchkis shop getting a roll cage), Rob Phillips in his C10, Elana Scherr in her ’70 Challenger, Dan Kahn in his ’99 Camaro SS, Aaron Ogawa in the E-Max Challenger and other Hotchkis friends eager for some serious Sunday driving. John drove our latest project car – the 2011 Camaro SS we’ve dubbed “F-11” to the show, freshly christened with new SS stripes.
At the show, John was also reunited with an old friend, H-Team member number 001, Robert Pierik. Robert is the proud owner of a Hotchkis legend, one the first and most famous Hotchkis builds ever, the F-71 Camaro. The tangerine orange 2nd gen Camaro was built in the late 90’s and is one of the first LS1-powered vintage Camaro builds ever. The car still looks amazing, and Robert is clearly the right person to own it. He didn’t bat an eye at driving it all the way from Arizona just to meet up with us for the weekend.
Anyone who would like to learn more about F-71 should check out the original build story in the April 2001 issue of Super Chevy.
Driving is what we were all there for, so even though we enjoyed the show, admiring rows of vintage Porsches, movie car replicas, restored muscle cars and all manner of wild customs and unusual collectibles, everyone was antsy to get back behind the wheel.
A little before noon, after dropping off our donated toys, we fired up and rolled west. Our caravan included American iron from the 50’s through today, and we even had a Subaru and a Toyota along to avoid any hints of favoritism. The sound of all those cylinders firing turned heads as we ran down the 101 freeway and Kanan Dume road – and it was truly magical.
Kanan Dume is a nice stretch of driving road between the San Fernando Valley and Malibu. Once you crest the hill, you get a marvelous view of the Pacific Ocean and on this trip, the view from the rear window was just as good. Two C-10s, two Challengers, three Camaros, a ’54 Ford Panamericana race car, a ’62 Dodge, a new Mustang GT and more, all cruising in a pack and enjoying the drive.
Kanan Dume ends at the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs along the ocean all the way up the coast of California. It was tempting to just keep driving north, but it was lunchtime, and fried seafood was on the menu at local Malibu hotspot, Neptune’s Net. If it sounds familiar, “The Net” has been the setting for dozens of movies, including Point Break, The Fast and the Furious, and more.
Once everyone was full of crispy shrimp and crabcakes, John lead a brief driver’s meeting and we headed south towards Decker Canyon. Those who had driven Decker before warned everyone about the tight hairpin turns, and they weren’t kidding! Decker is almost completely ignored by the general public thanks to its close proximity to straighter, more civil roads, but is a favorite of supercar and sportbike pilots thanks to its decreasing radius turns and crazy elevation changes – not to mention stunning scenery. By the way, did we mention it was raining? From Decker we transitioned to Mulholland, one of the oldest, most beautiful mountain roads in Los Angeles.
Despite the rain and Dan W’s drum brakes, everyone made it safely to our final destination, the legendary Rock Store on Mulholland. The Rock Store is a biker bar and canyon racer hangout that used to be a gas station in the ’40s, so it was the perfect setting for a little post-cruise hot chocolate bench racing session. We shared driving impressions and marveled at the mud on Rob Phillips’ previously immaculate truck. ” This is the first time it’s ever been rained on!” he lamented. He’s probably still polishing the spots off.
The entire day really summed up what the H-Team is all about. We admired many different kinds of automobile, we drove our cars for the pure joy of a good run through the canyon and we used our love of the hobby to support the community and give to those in need. We can’t wait to do it all over again, and we hope you’ll join us next time!