The traditional style car show has never been a favorite of mine, with carefully organized parking segregating the attending vehicles by age, manufacturer, and sometimes condition. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the casual Cars & Coffee formula, in which cars simply park as they arrive. The looser organization means that cars (and owners) intermingle a bit more than they normally might, but leaving the arrangement up to chance easily hides awesome rides from onlookers.
For example, I took a short trip from the Hagerty headquarters to M1 Concours in Pontiac, Michigan for the monthly Cars & Coffee event. Depending on the month, they pack up to 1000 cars on their skidpad and track for a few hours on a Saturday morning. The range of cars is staggering, with supercars sitting next to rusty daily drivers of various vintages. As I meandered around the event, I noticed two cars arrive fairly late. They found spots next to each other, but when I walked closer, I saw only one gathering a crowd—and it was the wrong one.
The McLaren 720S is a magnificent feat of engineering. With more power than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat and with aerodynamics that would make Boeing blush, it’s a supercar among supercars. They are cool—don’t get me wrong—but I wanted to corral the crowd right past those “billionaire doors,” because this particular 720S sat beside an unassuming silver four-door stuffed with a massive mill.
It wasn’t a Cadillac CTS-V, though that would be cool. Not a Mercury Marauder either, and, yes, that would also be cool. Instead, it was a car old enough to be those two cars’ grandfather: the Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3, a bar room brawler in a suit. It has a humble exterior, tastefully gesturing at its 6.3-liter V-8 with classy, understated rear badging. That particular powerplant is rated at 434 lb-ft of torque and puts this sedan on par with the muscle cars of its day—but without that stat, you’d stroll past this sleeper and think nothing more than, “Oh neat, a classic Benz four-door.”
That’s exactly what happened. All. Day. It was such a bummer to see this great piece of history getting no love from the crowd. I get it—the doors don’t open in a way that would make the bouncer at the club move the velvet rope, and there isn’t a wing that pops up for extra braking force. Those are nifty tricks, but the fact of the matter is the vast majority of the 720S production won’t see nearly the miles that each of these 6526 luxo-barge Benzes will cover.
It just goes to show that when every car is invited, it is easy to get overwhelmed or distracted.
When you next find yourself strolling a parking lot of gleaming metal, take the time to look at and appreciate each one—or at least every one that you can in the time you have. There are so many cool cars that run the risk of being lost to history simply because they are subtle and understated. Don’t deprive yourself of the less glitzy, gullwing-less shades of cool; check out the entire spectrum of awesome.