The Automobile as Art at Dream Machines, Half Moon Bay’s Annual Chrome-a-palooza

What’s your “dream machine?”

For half a century, MontaraManDan has dreamed of owning a 1967 Mercury Cougar in British racing green. The one with the hideaway headlamps. So awesome! GeekSlacker, for a time, yearned to escape from the rigors of her jet-setting tech world on a Harley. She escaped by retiring instead.

Just a few weeks ago we drove to a Mazda dealership to check out a 2017 MX-5 Miata hardtop convertible, but we didn’t pull the trigger. “Top down” days are rare Coastside. And the thought of shoehorning blogging supplies and M-Man’s long legs into a two-seater seemed as daunting as cramming enough business casual for two weeks in Southeast Asia into the Geek’s carry-on. The clincher? The salesman refused to let us take the car on a test drive. Perhaps M-Man’s ubiquitous Cubs cap was to blame. Or the flannel shirt. One of those.

Consequently, we continue to slack around in our 2008 Toyota Prius and 2013 Ford Fusion hybrids – solid, fuel-efficient, pedestrian. #boring

But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep dreaming! And the 27th Pacific Coast Dream Machines show at Half Moon Bay Airport was the place to do just that. Besides, the proceeds support the Coastside Adult Day Health Center. How great is that!?

Dream Machines is not just an antique car show. It’s also a place to find motorcycles, tractors, airplanes, helicopters, concept cars, hot rods, food, stunt shows, plane rides, music, games for the kids … and traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. And while traffic doesn’t, and shouldn’t, deter visitors, it’s helpful to time your approach and departure carefully. There are two ways to get to the airport. South on Highway 1 and north on Highway 1. You pick.

We’re local. (So cool!) So our top secret approach left us within a short walk of the Meza Luna entrance, avoiding the main parking lot. Easy-peasy. It also dropped us right into the heart of the show cars and the passionate owners who love nothing more than to tell you the story behind their beautiful dream machines. We had barely cleared the ticket-takers when the Geek whipped out her Canon Rebel T5 from her backpack and began wantonly filling up memory cards. “More, more, more,” as Billy Idol once sang.

The Geek photographed flashy grills and sleek hood ornaments:

  • John from San Mateo brought his 1956 Corvette, black with a gaudy interior the color of Rizzo’s lipstick. (That’s Betty Rizzo, as in the leader of the Pink Ladies in “Grease.”) The sports car once was owned by a Project Mercury astronaut. Apparently you could get a great deal on a Corvette back in the day if you had the right stuff.IMG_0638IMG_0636

The Geek photographed tall tail fins and jacked-up low-riders:

  • Rick from San Jose brought his 1957 BelAir and its soaring tail fins to the show. He was worried folks would notice he still had some more restoration work to go. We certainly didn’t notice. It was beautiful – painted a lustrous 2003 Ferrari red with white highlights and dripping with chrome and space-age trim. Wow.

The Geek photographed the unique and the bizarre:

  • A self-proclaimed friend of an anonymous motorcycle enthusiast was answering questions about a Megola motorcycle, one of roughly 2,000 manufactured between 1921 and 1925 in Munich. The rotary/radial motor actually nests within the front wheel of the bike, which otherwise looks like an elongated Vespa precursor. Unique AND bizarre – a twofer.

Only the prospect of chicken kabobs washed down by a margarita and accompanied by Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic – best Zydeco band in the Bay Area – could convince the Geek to holster her Canon and step away from the chrome-a-palooza.

The kabobs, juicy morsels of lamb or chicken on a stick and wrapped in a tortilla, were offered up by Half Moon Bay’s own Coastriders motorcycle club. Last year, drippings from his kabob permanently stained M-Man’s blue canvas shoes. But not this year. The solution? Man spread. He pretty much took over his own bale of hay. His former New York colleagues, wise in the ways of subway etiquette, would have been appalled. The Geek rolled her eyes and found her own hay bale.

After lunch? The day flew by. We didn’t even notice the sun slowly baking our exposed forearms and the tops of the Geek’s flip-flop shod feet to a dusty rangoon red – kind of a Coastside farmer’s tan. (Note to selves: Wear sun screen next year.)

We passed on the funnel cake and returned via the blur of fins, grills, hood ornaments and chrome lined up along a runway that for a time in the 1950s and ‘60s was home to the Half Moon Bay Dragstrip. No drag racing on this day, but we did thrill to the motocross daring-do of Metal Mulisha and chuckle at the squeals of passengers enduring kabob-churning Monster Truck rides.

IMG_1119It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we finally made it to the show planes on the north end of the airport. Eddie Andreini’s P-51 Mustang gave us pause. The veteran of nearly 1,000 air shows died in May 2014 when his Stearman biplane crashed and burned at the Thunder Over Solano air show at Travis Air Force Base. RIP Eddie.

It was time to go. Traffic had begun backing up on Highway 1 – north and south. Sun-burned and dragging fanny, we began our long trudge south to the exit, amusing ourselves by browsing the community service booths and scouting for motorcycle club vests. Members of Hells Angels Daly City were well represented, enjoying the day beneath a large red canopy tent stretched taught in the late afternoon breeze. A tongue-in-cheek poser in a Sons of Arthritis vest drew some laughs.

M-Man was trying, with mixed success, to coax the Geek and her camera through the rapidly dwindling machinery near the exit when we spotted what we decided had to be the star of the show – a road-worthy 1904 Oldsmobile. Crank starter. Steering lever. The horseless carriage had been in the same family since it rolled off the showroom floor. We were thoroughly charmed – the once and future dream machine. Classic.​

2 thoughts on “The Automobile as Art at Dream Machines, Half Moon Bay’s Annual Chrome-a-palooza

  1. M-man and the Geek! Sounds like a fitting title to a book, movie, or …… I know, a blog!

    You’ve done it again, and in style. My wife and I aren’t big or old machine enthusiasts – we attended Dream Machines years ago and have avoided it since, though we heartily support the fund raising cause . . . Our avoidance was crowd-traffic-subject matter caused. However, we are art enthusiasts – who woulda thunk you could have my head spin a 180? The story you have gifted us repleat with the stunning photos gave me the opportunity for the first time to enjoy this show . . . Without getting sunburned or enduring crowds and traffic. So inspired am I after reading, I will donate the $ to the Senior Coastsiders it would have cost me to attend, and look forward to next year’s blog about the show!

    1. Thanks, Steve. We are working hard to our our material in front of the community. We ask on NextDoor “what’s your dream machine?” Let us know yours!

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