Portland: Guide to Havana on the Pacific

The fall 2010 feature story in Hagerty’s magazine proved that Portland, Ore., is a treasure trove of great old cars. Well, it’s a haven for car guys and gals, too. What do all those car guys do for fun? Here are some of the ways to enjoy the hobby in PDX, as well as some of our favorite eateries and unique places to stay.


Portland International Raceway
West Delta Park-1940
North Victory Boulevard, Portland
(503) 823-7223
From swap meets to racing of all stripes, PIR is host to many of Portland’s most exciting events; 2010 marked PIR’s 50th year as the Rose City’s motorhead Mecca. From March through October, count on weekly drag-race (Wednesdays) and motocross nights (Thursdays). June through September, you’ll find weekly beach-themed cruise-ins (Wednesdays). Check the website for updated prices and information.

PIR Swap Meet
March 31 – April 3, 2011
This is the West Coast’s largest auto swap meet, with 2 miles of racetrack teeming with 1,200 vendors. When you find the perfect Rudge wheels for your Gullwing, don’t haul them to your car — use the Haul-and-Go service. Your donation goes to the Community Transitional School for homeless children, and saves you a backache to boot.

Rose Cup Races
June 10-12 2011
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
This is the second-longest-running SCAA event in the country, with three action-packed days of racing. Since it’s scheduled to augment Portland’s two-week Rose Festival, expect to see a full range of race classes, including formula cars, sports racers and sedans.

Portland Historic Races
July 8-10, 2011
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Three days of vintage races featuring cars from the ‘30s to the ‘70s. Participants in this HMSA-sponsored event include club members from across the Northwest.  

All British Field Meet and Columbia River Classic
Sept 3-5, 2011
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
If you want to see 700-800 British cars from all over the Northwest in one place, you’ve found the right event. You might not even need your Mac or Wellies—the last weekend of summer in Portland is usually rain-free (knock-on-wood).

Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance
July 17, 2011
Pacific University campus, Forest Grove, OR
A favorite Northwest show for 37 years, the 2010 show boasted 300 stellar cars. The 2011 theme is mid-century classic, and celebrates 100 years of Chevrolet. The shady campus setting and laid-back atmosphere makes for a very pleasant day.


99W Drive-In
3110 Portland Road, Newberg
(503) 538-2738
$8-$4 child 6-11, under 6 free
Is there a more American place to take your classic than to a classic drive-in theater? Luckily, we’ve got a great one, just 20 miles from Portland in Newberg, Ore. Every summer weekend, the 99W packs ’em in for late-run double features. Be sure to bring a portable radio with batteries; nobody hangs those clunky old speakers on the door anymore!

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
1600 Tucker Rd, Hood River, OR
(541) 308-1600
This gem boasts the largest number of working antique planes and cars in the country. This is the perfect stop to combine with a tour of the Gorge. Located about 70 miles from Portland.

Western Antique Powerland
Northwest Vintage Car & Motorcycle Museum
Pacific Northwest Truck Museum
Oregon Electric Railway Museum
3995 Brooklake Rd NE, Salem, OR (exit 283 off I-5)
(503) 399-0647
Cars and bikes, trucks, trains and tractors — what could make a gearhead happier than a spending a day with all kinds of old vehicles? You’ll find four machine-filled museums all clustered together, just 8 miles west of Salem. Check the website for events like the Great Oregon Steam-Up (July 30-31 and August 6-7, 2011).

McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR 97253
“McMenamins” in Oregon is synonymous with microbrews, music, quirky lodgings and eccentric decor. Since 1983, Mike and Brian McMenamin have restored dozens of historic landmarks, from a county poorfarm (now the Edgefield Hotel and Winery) to a Masonic old folk’s home/orphanage (The Grand Lodge), just around the corner from the Forest Grove Concours and a couple of elementary schools like the Kennedy School. Former classrooms now host luxurious beds and comfy chairs – no dunce stools are found in any corner. With several restaurants, bars, a brewery, a salt-water soaking pool, live music and a movie theater on site, there’s no need to ever leave. But should you venture out, the historic neighborhood of Alameda is sure to afford sightings of interesting cars on every street just a short walk from Kennedy School.


Historic Columbia River Highway
If you want to see Purple Mountains’ majesty, this drive will have you singing “America the Beautiful.” The area has the highest concentration of waterfalls in the country. Take I-84 East from Portland to Troutdale. From there, take 30, the Columbia River Historic Highway, to Elowah Falls. Plan your trip for a stop at Tad’s Chicken ‘n Dumplins. A local favorite since the 1920s, Tad’s offers comfort food with a view of the Sandy River.

Three Arches Cape Scenic Route
While Highway 26 is the most direct route to the spectacular Oregon Coast (and to popular destinations Cannon Beach or Seaside), hopping on to Route 6 toward Tillamook affords a more interesting ride through Tillamook State Forest. From Tillamook, take the 38-mile Route 131 loop toward Netarts and Oceanside. Continue on toward the trio of Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda; gorgeous views of the sea, the bay and estuaries abound. Lodgings? What’s your preference? Modest and comfortable (The Terimore Motel in Netarts) or pampered, with an ocean view from your jacuzzi tub (The Inn at Cape Kiwanda)?


2811 NE Glisan St, SE Portland
The colorful façade and neon Cuban flag provide a bright target on a rainy Portland night. Featured in our “Havana on the Pacific” piece in Hagerty’s magazine, there isn’t a better backdrop for your ’57 Chevy. Plus you’ll find authentic Cuban food and the best happy hour in town (2 p.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 p.m. – midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). Try Masitas (Creole-fried pork with garlic mojo, $3.50), Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in a savory garlic/tomato sauce, $4) and the Yuca con Mojo (fried cassava root with garlic sauce, $4). Pambiche is small and gets crowded, but unfortunately doesn’t take reservations. Go early for the weekday happy hour, or after 11 p.m. on weekends.

Petite Provence
1824 NE Alberta St, NE Portland (503) 284-6564
4834 SE Division SE Portland (503) 233-1121
15964 SW Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego (503) 635-4533
It doesn’t get better than this if you love French cooking and pastries. Locals flock for the inventive breakfasts, hearty sandwiches and authentic Provencal entrees, and the delectable bakery creations are almost too pretty to eat. Got a full day of car-shopping ahead of you? Try the hearty Northwest Salmon Hash ($12.95) Risotto Cake and Eggs ($8.95) or Meurette Benedict ($10.95) for breakfast. The traditional open-faced pork sandwich with caramelized onions is not to be missed.

The Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Blvd Portland
(503) 292-6727
Skyline, located near the top of one of the twistiest, prettiest roads in Portland, has been around since 1935. It’s a prime place to park your ’49 Merc and grab a burger and shake; the only thing missing are the girls on roller skates. Some say this is Portland’s best burger, and the shakes aim to please with flavors like S’mores, Pecan Pie, Root Beer and Chocolate-covered Cherry. Tip: Cash only, though there is an ATM. Stop in after a drive through the scenic West Hills.

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