No one had any idea how big the concept would become and how quickly it would be embraced. The concept we’re talking about is Cars and Coffee, a Sunday morning car perv fest at a restaurant in a semi rural part of Sydney’s northern suburbs.
Cars and Coffee at Cavalino is the brainchild of Ferrari owner and restaurateur Lido Russo, and Supercar Club’s Luke O’Neill. And when it kicked off in February this year they thought a few mates would turn up with a few friends and have a coffee while talking about their machines parked in the lot outside the front door.
Five months in and there’s now a huge fleet of cars. Everything from the mundane to the super exotic. Fiat Bambino’s to the latest Ferrari 458 Speciale. McLaren 12Cs to Falcon GTHOs and AMG Mercedes, with the odd Volvo 122 and a plethora of Porsches in all shapes and vintages. The list just seems to grow and grow.
The concept is simple and based on an idea from the US where Cars and Coffee events are held all over the place and have been made more famous thanks to the visitation of the host of TV show Chasing Classic Cars and its key man Wayne Carini. They are held in car parks in LA, cafes in San Francisco, on the fringes of major Concours events and now they are taking off here.
This writer was invited to bring my Austin Healey Sprite to the May Cars and Coffee at Cavalino and I had the vague thought that there might be 30 or 40 people at the Sunday morning gathering, and a handful of cars in the car park. At 7.45am we turned the corner at Terrey Hills to find exotic machinery everywhere and a horde of people already massing around the restaurant.
The Sprite was reversed into a spot to receive some admiring glances and comments even though it seemed to be out of its league with the other machines on hand.
Driving up Mona Vale Road we were passed by a McLaren MP4-12C, and everywhere we turned there were supercars being parked and manoeuvred, although there were more down to earth cars mingled with the top shelf machines. Cars and Coffee prides itself on being egalitarian.
Even the bloke who kicked it off and hosted the event Lido Russo can’t believe how quickly the Cars and Coffee idea has caught on. He said,
“It is amazing, I just can’t believe it, the whole thing has hit a chord with the car community and it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger every month.”
The queue for the excellent Cavalino coffee, the croissants and the barbecue Italian sausages and prosciutto is long but no one seems to mind. There is chat about the machinery surrounding us and famous old stagers to meet and chat with. The likes of racing greats of the past such as ’60s open wheeler ace Spencer Martin and ’70s touring car racer and latterly V8 Supercar team owner Bob Forbes were there, so to Ferrari Australia boss Herbie Appleroth.
This month the Sprite stayed in the shed and the Thomson Rally Team classic Datsun 1600 rally car was taken along, looking even more out of place than the sports car. But it attracted plenty of chat and admiring glances, guys who had Dattos in their youth and remember the exploits of rally stars of the ’70s. Alongside was a Volvo 122 ‘Amazon’, a couple up there was a little Fiat 850 coupe and across the way a Ford GT40 replicar.
When the mist cleared on a cold June Sunday the warmth of spirit at Cars and Coffee shone through and everyone had a smile for what is a fantastic morning worshipping the machines we are all so much in love with.
Cars and Coffee takes place from 8am to 10 am on the first Sunday morning of each month at Cavalino, 1 Yulong St Terrey Hills.