My neighbor, Merideth Helgeson, recently mentioned she was heading to Cars and Coffee, a meetup for car enthusiasts. Meredith owns a 1964 356C Porsche, handed down to her from her dad, that she was driving to the event.
Cars and Coffee is a free monthly meetup for car enthusiasts to bring their cars, talk cars, socialize and drink coffee. Spectators are welcome to walk around, view cars and drink coffee, too.
My interest was piqued because one of my first jobs was working for a car show promoter in New York and New Jersey. I decided to go with Meredith to the September Cars and Coffee on Hive Drive near the old Charlotte Coliseum site.
I met Brian Abdala and Bob Pletcher, Cars and Coffee coordinators, by the tent with the free coffee and donuts. They took over managing Cars and Coffee a few months ago when the original coordinator wanted to move on.
Abdala and Pletcher formed a limited liability company, purchased insurance and secured the current location for the event. On Hive Drive, there’s space for 930 cars, and they also have overflow parking in the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.
Although Charlotte’s Cars and Coffee started in 2008, it’s part of an international Cars and Coffee organization that sponsors similar events in cities all over the world. The group was originally inspired by a meet-up in Irvine, California.
“Cars and Coffee started with car enthusiasts and it grew,” Pletcher said. “It’s car culture, socialization with other car guys.”
Abdala and Pletcher work for Foreign Cars Charlotte: Aston Martin, Maserati and Bentley, which is the title sponsor for the event. They provide the gourmet coffee and donuts and help with rental costs for the location.
From my perspective, the event is well organized with a relaxed vibe. There are no vendors selling products and no signs advertising anything. It’s purely about the cars.
I noticed groups of people gathered around the engines, talking modifications and history of the cars.
“There’s not a lot of cars out here that are stock,” said Jeremy Marcouiller, one participant. “It’s not about what you have, but what you’ve done to it. That’s very important.”
I stopped three friends who were walking around to ask them why they come to Cars and Coffee. They’ve been to smaller shows around Charlotte, but this one is the best, in their opinion. William Daughtry said other car shows don’t attract this crowd.
“They don’t attract the magnitude that Cars and Coffee attracts,” said Daughtry, who brought his 1993 Mazda MX-5 to the event.
The chance to talk cars and drink coffee is attracting a diverse crowd.
“You could almost call it Cars, Coffee and Dogs,” said Pletcher. “There’s so many people who enjoy their morning with cars and coffee and they bring their dogs out and strollers.”
More importantly, it’s the opportunity to see something you’ve never seen before, and up close.
“Last time we were here, there was a Ferrari 25O Testa Rossa worth well over $10 million,” Chris Villasenor, one of the spectators, said. “You just never know.”
Check out Cars and Coffee Charlotte
Cars and Coffee Charlotte, 135 Hive Dr.
7-11 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month
Free admission and parking
Spectator parking is available. Look for the signs directing you to the lot.
Dogs and strollers permitted.
Cash donations are accepted for coffee and donuts.
Interested in helping sponsor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Mackeever Coates/Cars and Coffee