As we emerge from the pandemic, weekend morning car gatherings are beginning to be held again.

While I believe that these gatherings represent an important part of our hobby, they are not without their issues. I have addressed this in part before, however here I will go into more detail.

There are often long lines to enter, with cars starting to line up before dawn. Events are usually dependent upon volunteers for staffing, which can lead to problems with execution. Upon exiting, the usual village idiots frequently demonstrate that they can’t control their daddy’s cars and go fishtailing down the street, sometimes smacking into parked cars.

If SCM were king of cars and coffee and could make all the rules, there would be more admissions, more order, better safety, and fundraising for charities all tied together. Let me explain how it would work. Some of these ideas are already being implemented by events across the country. I have just gathered together those which appealed to me as a package.

First you would find a parking lot that could hold 500-600 cars. Pre-registration, online only, would open one week before the event. The cost would be $20 per car (where we will spend that is below). Each car would get a specific, unique QR code that would allow only that car to enter.

With your entry, you could select which section you would like to be placed in. You could be placed with Corvettes like yours, Porsches, Hot Rods, Ferraris and more. You would upload a photo of your car with your payment, and your contact info if you wished.

If your car was for sale, you could tag it so that those browsing the event could note that your car could be bought.

On the morning of the event, paid workers would put out traffic cones at each parking row or slot with numbers on them. The number of the space would correspond to the admission QR ticket each driver received.

The show would be divided into 90-minute segments, and you could choose the one you want (until it is full). I suggest 7:00–8:30 am, 8:30–10:00 am and 10:00–11:30 am. At the end of each segment owners would be asked to leave to make way for the next group.

I would hire an off-duty motorcycle policemen to sit at the exit of the event, and perhaps another team with a radar gun. They would aggressively ticket anyone who misbehaved. We would again use the admission money to pay for them.

After all, it only takes one jerk to screw things up for everyone.

Every participant would get a souvenir cling for their window with the name and the date of the event.

After the last car leaves, a crew would clean up the parking lot and leave it in better shape than it was at the beginning. Perhaps these workers could be sourced from local car clubs. I suggest they be paid $15/hour; an admission fee makes this possible.

The organizers should be paid as well, as putting something like this together takes time. The creation of the software, the purchase of the clings and the traffic cones and storage, and the rental of the parking lot and the acquiring of insurance carries a cost as well.

The money that is left over would go to a charitable cause, such as a children’s hospital or a local vocational program.

There you have it: The SCM Plan for Cars and Coffee. No more long lines, a chance to park with other like vehicles, a way to market your car, an extra layer of safety and, finally, more cars and more people getting to show off their pride and joy.

These are my thoughts for how to create better Cars and Coffee-type meetups. What are yours?



  1. Tremendous suggestions all around. Everyone wants these events to be successful. Your outline for structure and process will ensure that occurs.

  2. rand wintermute

    As founder of “Biscotti & Cars” in Sausalito,
    Which I started in 2011, I wanted to feature a particular car each month with a trophy and Poster of the car, given to the Owner of the featured car . I obtained a “ Sponsor “ kind enough to pay for the Poster and trophy each month. Our close restaurant owner of “Poggio”
    Is our Sponsor each month in the nearby parking lot, blessed by the City of Sausalito to allow our event the first Saturday of each month . It is still a popular event and ongoing, since I left Sausalito and moved back to the Oregon Coast . I selected the name “ Biscotti & Cars “ to be different then
    The over used name “coffee & cars” . This is our
    Methodology fir a successful weekend car event.
    Rand Wintermute
    Founder, “Biscotti & Cars”

  3. I prefer the UK method. Cars are free, spectators pay to get in. Why do I have to pay so that others may look at my car?

  4. Prefer no rules, no fees, no workers, no registration and no organization. Otherwise it’s just another car show. Our C&C is for the local owners to mingle, catch up, share ideas and appreciate our friends and meet new friends – with common interests.

  5. Sorry, Keith, this is the only time I can remember disagreeing with you. While all of your goals are laudable, the beauty of “Cars and Coffee” is its simplicity. A location, time, and date are determined by the organizers and publicized via email or social media. Everyone shows up, gets a chance to see some interesting and, many times, great looking cars – no money, no hassle, minimal volunteers. When it’s over, everyone just leaves and goes home. What you’re describing is a “Car Show” which involves money, hassle, and lots of volunteers. I like them too, just not every other weekend.

    But, by far, the best part is simply hanging out and talking to others who share this common affliction of all things automotive. Let’s be honest, we “Car Guys” (and Gals) are all a little different from the general citizenry and this is one time we don’t have to explain our little quirk to anyone. We all get it.

    Admittedly my experience is limited to an event that rarely draws over 100 cars, but we still have a handful of knuckleheads who occasionally show off. A little self-policing and public shaming goes a long way towards preventing problems. One of the “adults” will speak to them with a gentle warning, usually just, “Hey man, don’t do that.” is enough. Public shaming via social media works well also. Several times a year we put small flyers on everyone’s windshield reminding them of the rules.

    Can we agree to disagree?

  6. Keith,

    I also do not agree with you on this one. The beauty of a C&C event is that there is no formality or organization at all. Bring your car, chat with friends and buy a coffee, muffin, scone or whatever. It is low key and time to catch up with car friends. Having a police presence paid for by donations is a great thing.

  7. I’d agree with Mr. Garland. The appeal of the typical local C&C event is its lack of rules and structure and low hassle factor. These are supposed to be quasi-impromptu events bringing together car enthusiasts of all stripes and ages to just have fun and hang out with their cars and friends for a few hours on a Saturday morning. Creating too many rules, IMO, would detract from the low-key fun factor. Make it too hard and people will simply stop showing up.

    One element I would try to clamp down on is to have a police presence to deter (and if necessary, ticket) the idiots whose try to show off when they leave the event venue. This kind of foolishness definitely needs to be put down.

    Otherwise, for most C&Cs, especially in medium size and smaller cities and towns which see more limited attendance at these events, keep it simple. For those who may have a beef with how a given local C&C is run, well, go start a new one with your own rules. Good luck!

  8. I’ve never been to a C&C event, and, after reading the blog and comments, I doubt I’ll ever take one in. Just the thought of long lines and reckless bozos turns me off, organized or not. I think I’ll stick to car club events and maybe enter a well-run local shine ‘n show once in a while. Or, better yet, organize a trip to a winery with some good friends and their nice cars.

  9. Hi Keith,
    I guess we all know now why you and SCM aren’t in charge of Cars and Coffee nationwide. Sounds like a recipe for a “Chinese fire drill” at best. Here in Paradise…Amelia Island…we have about 25 to 35 cars each month. So I know you can figure out why we wouldn’t like to have you in charge. Stick to writing and managing SCM. That’s what you’re good at. Thanks.