Get your engine revving with Cars and Coffee

Posted March 23
Updated May 19

This story was written for our sponsor,

It takes something pretty exciting to get a person voluntarily out of bed at 5 a.m. on a Saturday and to get thousands of people across the nation to meet week after week -- it has to be really special.

Thankfully, there's coffee there to help out. But the cars are the real attraction.

Birth of a Tradition

A popular car meet-up that started in Southern California has slowly spread into a nationwide phenomenon.

Cars & Coffee has a pretty simple premise -- everyone with a car to show-off meets at a prearranged location, and people who don't have one to show but want to see others' cars are invited, too.

Southern California had a few similar car meet-ups over the years, including Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach, which dates back to 1986. Donut Derelicts is often cited as spurring the Cars & Coffee craze after a group of attendees started their own event.

Eventually, the group landed in a parking lot in Irvine, Calif., in Orange County, which Mazda and Ford shared. The car companies were willing to host them and the first Cars & Coffee was born.

The meet-up ran from 2006 until 2014, when it got too big for its location. The organizers announced there would only be two more events, however the second to last meeting brought so many people that the organizers had to cancel the final scheduled event.

"I'm surprised it lasted eight years, honestly," Ford special-events manager and Cars & Coffee co-founder John Clinard told OC Weekly. "We had to end the event because we've outgrown our lot size. It's gotten unwieldy, and we've had to turn people away."

A Nationwide Movement

The publicity and enthusiasm the group inspired led to dozens of similar meetings opening across the country since then. The original organizers didn't copyright the name, "Cars & Coffee," so new organizers in various cities started their own unaffiliated meet-ups under the same name.

Because the movement was very organic and decentralized, different meet-ups felt free to start their own and give them their own flavor. Some events are put on by car dealerships, some by coffee shops and some by people just meeting in a parking lot on a Saturday morning.

In the Triangle alone, Cars & Coffee events are hosted in Raleigh, Morrisville and Wake Forest.

The meet-ups are a great place for people to network, meet like-minded gear heads, and even buy and sell specialty cars. Most people simply come to gawk and take pictures of good-looking cars.

Leight : Spotlight : Cars & Coffee

Leith Porsche in Cary has been hosting a monthly Cars & Coffee meet-up for the last seven years.

"We really wanted to take it to the next level when it launched," explained Leith Porsche Sales Manager John Alvi. "So instead of just having cars in the parking lot and some coffee dispensers, we decided to add our own local flavor."

The event is more Porsche-centric, so all Porsche enthusiasts from around the Triangle are encouraged to come check it out.

"We paired-up with fellow Porsche enthusiast and coffee connoisseur Dan Kehn of," Alvi said. "Dan writes a very popular online coffee blog, and brings in the latest and greatest home espresso machines to serve-up a delicious menu and answer questions for fellow home baristas. We pair that with a different Porsche topic every month -- from tech sessions, to detail sessions, to Porsche trivia.”

Leith Porsche’s event is the second Saturday of every month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This story was written for our sponsor,


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