Many cities and towns seem to have found the correct formula for holding local car cruises. Find a location that doesn’t normally have a lot of activity at dusk (like many downtown’s), ensure plenty of visible street parking, bring in a DJ to spin some tunes and have a few restaurants stay open to serve the crowds and you have all the ingredients for a successful car cruise. Mix in some cool California weather, plus a shack that sells kettle corn and that describes Crusin’ Grand along Grand Avenue in downtown Escondido, California.
While Escondido may be best known for being the home of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park; on Friday night from April through September, it is also home to some other Barracudas, Impalas, and Mustangs. From 5-9 PM the downtown streets come alive with classic cars and trucks of all varieties. They block off some side streets and weekly feature a specific car marquee or local car club. The first week of the 2014 season was April 4th and hosted lots of Willy’s. Typical weeks bring out over 5,000+ people to see the classics and it didn’t hurt that this same weekend, nearby Del Mar was hosting the Goodguys Rod and Custom show.
51 Henry J
At this first week of the season, there were plenty of cars, trucks and motorcycles to ogle. A silver 1951 Henry J was jaw dropping gorgeous. The paint job was done by Charlie Hutton of Lampa, Idaho. You might recall that Charlie painted for Boyd Coddington when they were on the reality TV show, American Hot Rod and is a mainstay at the SEMA show. The red leather interior was done by Gabe’s, another stalwart for Boyd Coddington. This beast is powered by a Chevy 350 cubic inch ZZ4 motor, linked to a 700 R4 automatic transmission and a 9″ Ford rear end. This vehicle also ended up on display for the weekend at the Optima battery booth at the nearby Goodguys show.
55 Chevy Gasser’s
You couldn’t help notice two 55 Chevy’s that were done up as gassers. They showed a substantial amount of patina or surface rust but both looked at home sitting on Grand Avenue. They sported “big and little’s” with small lightweight skinny wheels up front and monstrous tires on the back to grab as much traction on the drag strip as they could. The stance was nose up, with a solid straight front axle.
1960 Chevy Impala
Parked on a side street for all to enjoy was a silver 1960 Chevy Impala. The wide white tires were dead on period authentic. They were matched to reversed steel black rims with a chrome bullet center cap for a sharp look. I’ve always enjoyed this model year as the rear fins were more sedate and not as outrageous as earlier years. The three circular lights on each rear corner of the back end is a classic look, often “borrowed” by customizers.
1959 El Camino
Down the street was a red 59 El Camino with the oversized rear tail fins. The red paint gleamed in the sun and looked ready for cruising the avenues or stopping at the local feed market and picking up some sacks of feed. It was a stock look but with the hood down, who knows what giant sleeps in that engine bay?
Rat Rod Truck
Finally a rat rod truck was a sight to see. The truck sported a custom roll cage for the cab’s interior. Between the exhaust being piped straight up from the engine compartment and the front end being directly connected to the chassis, with no springs or suspension, this would certainly be an interesting ride. But the stance, helped here again by big and little tires, was neat and helped it to look like a cool cat.
Enjoy the balance of the pictures, and remember the show continues every Friday through the end of October.