Americana was on full display at the Rotary Club’s monthly classic car show at the Route 66 Diner in Canyon Country on Saturday, and a strict rule in place would make one think they were right back in the 1950s.
Out front, a sign read “PLEASE 1980 PRE ONLY,” and although some modern cars were parked outside of the official show, it was classics only inside of it.
Bright sky blue, vibrant orange and sleek black were just some of the many unique colors on some even more unique cars. Although most of the cars are post-war, some souped-up pre-war hot rods also dazzled the crowd.
The event was a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita, which will be giving the money raised to various community service organizations and charities.
Patrick Kenney, president of the Rotary Club, said these types of community events are great for bringing awareness and raising money to combat local issues, such as homelessness. Kenney also talked about what he liked most about these types of events.
“It’s just the community, getting to see people we know,” said Kenney. “They come back here month after month to show off their cars, donate the money. There’s a list of everybody we donated money to last year. Everything we bring in, we give away.”
There were different models and makes at the show, but also some common classics. For instance, there were several 1957 Chevrolet Bel Airs and several late 1960s Chevy Camaro SSs, Ford Mustangs and Plymouth GTXs.
As part of the show, there was also a contest that judged cars on a number of things: best of show, nostalgia, best of decade, best of model, and so on.
Rick Lagrasta, one of the show’s judges, said his role at the event was a lot of fun. Lagrasta also said the Route 66 Diner and its car show help put Canyon Country on the map.
“We’ve been doing this car show, this is our 23rd year at Route 66 and our car club here in Santa Clarita started the car show up 23 years ago and have had a lot of fun with it,” said Lagrasta. “It put Canyon Country on the map, and Santa Clarita, before it was called Santa Clarita and something to get the people away from the streets and onto a parking lot into a restaurant and it’s been pretty successful.”
The classic car vibe tied in to the nostalgic decor of the diner. However, the restaurant’s owner, George Thomas, said he can’t take full credit for the decor.
“A lot of people enjoy the decor,” said Thomas. “I can’t take credit for most of it because a good friend of [mine] was a prop man and set designer for the studios. He took me under his wing for six to eight months. He took me to antique shops down in Orange, Pomona swap meets, auto swaps. He took me to a lot of places all the time.”
Thomas said before the days of eBay, you would have to go to brick-and-mortar stores to look for antique signs. These days the internet provides much of the 1950s decor for Route 66.
The restaurant also holds a special place in Thomas’ heart. Since opening 23 years ago, Thomas said he watched his kids go from working part-time jobs in the restaurant to graduating high school and eventually becoming firefighters. Thomas said he thanks his customers and staff for keeping the place afloat.
“I’ve had incredible staff here for many years,” said Thomas. “Casey is just walking by, she’s been here for 16 years now. Without this staff, you just have nothing and without customers you have nothing. So it takes good staff and great customers.”