*See photo gallery above
EDITOR’S NOTE: John McCabe is a regular contributing writer to THE SHOP magazine. See his profile on Jack Staggs Auto Repair in an upcoming issue of THE SHOP.
When you’re one of the top Porsche 356 mechanics in the land and you decide to create an event and invite all your friends and customers, the obvious choice is to have a nice outdoor barbecue. The obvious day to hold it would of course be day No. 356 (give or take). That means that on one of the last weekends of the year, Jack Staggs Auto Repair chooses to clutter the entire neighborhood with some of the most gorgeous cars you’ll see in all of California.
As usual, there were more than 100 beautiful classics cars in attendance, many of them being show-quality. While the vast majority of the vehicles were of the Porsche 356 variety (As, Bs, Cs), Porsches, Volkswagens and even a couple Audis all made it to the event; so many in fact, that some absolutely gorgeous cars were parked all the way up the block where one would have to walk quite a distance to admire their beauty.
Good thing Staggs’ shop is in San Clemente, California, where the weather on Dec. 22 (or so) is almost always beautiful. It’s not likely that too many air cooled cars would be showing up for this show if it were held at this time of year in Quebec. Staggs rents three of the units in this little alcove of mostly automotive repair shops and it’s obvious that the neighbors were well-prepared for the event. Porsche 356s, 914s, VW Beetles, Microbuses and a Vanagon Synchro were parked all throughout the lot.
Staggs has been in business for 44 years at this location on Calle Valle in San Clemente and he’s been holding the 356th Day of the Year BBQ “for about 18 years.” He’s not quite certain when it all began, but he’s a hippie, and that makes it okay. Aside from a few other hippies and some of the neighbors in attendance, there were quite a few doctors, real estate agents, investment brokers and even some minor celebrities who make it to Staggs’ annual party.
Craig Richter, who brought a 356 formerly owned by Ray Liss, is the author of the book, “How to Make an Old Porsche Fly: 356/912 High Performance Guide.” There were others too, but everyone was looking to spend time with Jack Staggs because, when it comes to Porsche 356s, there is no bigger celebrity alive.
Of course, being a barbecue, the chefs were also big celebrities for the day. They cooked up some delicious beer-soaked brats and sesame chicken wings. Attendees were encouraged to bring food and drink, so there was plenty of beer, soda, chips and dessert available. A three-piece band played classic and modern rock cover songs from inside Staggs’ shop, providing exactly the right amount of sound to make it officially a party without making it impossible for patrons to easily communicate with each other.
I spoke to several people who had this event marked on their calendar since the moment that Staggs announced the date. And then there was Bob:
Staggs: “Hi Bob. Glad you could make it.”
Bob: “Well, I forgot about it, and I was heading to the beach. Then I saw a 356 heading this way. Then I saw another. I checked the date and that’s when I realized where they were heading.”
Either that or he smelled the beer-dipped bratwursts and sesame wings cooking…