Photos and story by G.R. Whale
The weekly Cars and Coffee gathering on the grounds of Ford's West Coast offices offers an open invitation aimed at cars and trucks, preferably old ones, to gather in one place so enthusiasts can share stories, bench race over a California sunrise and enjoy the camaraderie of other gearheads.
The marques tend to park next to their brethren, with groups of Porsches, Mustangs, rotary-powered Mazdas, Vipers and Lamborghinis. But where else will you find a Bonneville Salt Flats car next to a vintage Jaguar, an Isuzu Vehicross next to a Porsche 911 GT2 or a chopped pickup next to an electric BMW 1 Series?
But at last Saturday's event in Irvine a different type of ride showed up in the form of the futuristic Atlas concept truck Ford showed at auto shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and Edmonton, Alberta; it was the pickup's only non-convention hall public appearance. Normally found on a stand or turntable, here it was parked with the doors open, observers welcome to have a look inside.
Despite our best eavesdropping, the Ford spokesman didn't say anything we didn't already know. Ford employees wouldn't open the hood, so we couldn't verify anything about the "next-generation" EcoBoost engine and start/stop system reported to be under that hood.
As the gathering wound down, Ford's Atlas drove away seemingly under its own power back to its transport. We'll state "seemingly" because there was no outside help needed, but it was extremely quiet, and it was the only vehicle there that didn't emit a hint of steam vapors from the exhaust. More than one observer asked if it was a hybrid, and the answer was always no.
Among all the exotics that showed up, there were some interesting and rare pickup trucks attending — some for which you'd even want to bring the checkbook and leave the spouse home.
For additional photos of the event, you can go to PickupTrucks.com's Facebook page.
For sale: A 1949 Chevrolet 3100 three-quarter-ton pickup with 235-inch inline six-cylinder and four-speed manual, $16,500.
El Toro High School from nearby El Toro brought this chopped first-generation Chevy van, incomplete with a skeletal roof, blown small-block and V-drive.
This GMC 150 stake bed's inline six was purring like a kitten, the little vent atop the valve cover is what was used before positive crankcase ventilation.
This Chevy 4x4 was serious enough to have a Hi-Lift secured to the roll cage and idled enough blue smoke cold that we suspect forged pistons.
A spiritual predecessor to the Pontiac G8 that never quite got here.
You don't find too many turbocharged LS small blocks with plumbing like this, especially in an early-1960s Ford pickup.
We rarely see two Isuzu Vehicross sport utility vehicles in the same parking lot and even less often do we find one lifted.
This chopped and channeled 1946 Ford pickup runs an (old-style) Mustang 5.0-liter V-8 and remains a work-in-progress.