Montecito Motor Classic gets into gear in Carpinteria
Before she became a car enthusiast, Dolores Johnson’s eyes were on the sky.
“I’ve been in aviation for 40 years,” Mrs. Johnson, who’s worked as an executive, told the News-Press this week. “My husband (the late Roger Johnson) was a race car driver, and he used to take me out to all the races.
“He loved the thrill of it,” Mrs. Johnson said. “He loved fast cars, fast motorcycles, fast boats, fast airplanes. He raced all of them except for airplanes. He loved anything with speed.”
Mrs. Johnson’s involvement with cars went into full gear 10 years ago.
“I was asked to help put on a (car) show with the Elks. I said, ‘Sure.’ I knew some car people,” the Santa Barbara resident said. “It turned into what is today.”
And that would be the Montecito Motor Classic, which this year will feature everything from — Mrs. Johnson effortlessly lists the years, makes and models — a 1937 Ford Tudor, which is a humpback sedan out of Carpinteria, to an apple red 1967 red Mustang from Oxnard.
Don’t forget the red 1932 Ford Roadster from Goleta with an Edelbrock engine. It’ll be there too.
“I love all the cars,” said Mrs. Johnson, founder and executive director of the Montecito Motor Classic. She started it in 2011, and it’s kept growing.
For the record, her dream car is a 1955 Thunderbird, and that’s in this year’s Montecito Motor Classic, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, 3375 Foothill Road, Carpinteria.
Mrs. Johnson expects around 4,000 car enthusiasts to show up.
It’s the first Montecito Motor Classic since 2019. Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic.
“Everyone’s so excited to put this on this year,” Mrs. Johnson said. “We’ve grown 30 percent with over 200 cars. People are coming from California, Arizona, everywhere. It’s wonderful!”
This year’s honoree is Mark Stehrenerger, an internationally acclaimed automotive designer.
One part of the event will feature artists. Boutiques will be in a second area. And the third area will feature cars from two Oxnard museums, Mullin Automotive Museum and the Murphy Auto Museum.
Mrs. Johnson said Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which is known for its Hollywood cars, life-size Hot Wheels and classic early 20th-century autos, isn’t participating. But the Petersen Museum was an early supporter of the Montecito Motor Classic. In fact, the museum’s Terry Karges suggested the name.
Some of the proceeds from Sunday’s event go to the Santa Barbara Police Activities League. Over the years, the show has raised more than a half million to benefit the Santa Barbara Police Foundation, At Ease Foundation and currently SBPAL.
The Montecito Motor Classic categories vary from European, which includes certain years of Porsche, to Italian classics, Ferraris (Mrs. Johnson loves ’em), British classics, American classics, hot rods, motorcycles, you name it.
“We have some beautiful Jaguars,” Mrs. Johnson said.
Known for its cool factors is the 1990 Toyota Sera, coming to the show from Lompoc.
“Sera” is Italian for “evening.” And the Sera was known for its ambience, right down to — or rather, up to — its mostly glass roof. Plus it had the butterfly doors that tilted up and forward, something that fans like.
It was manufactured and marketed by Toyota from 1990 to 1996.
“We have the Lola coming from Palm Spring,” Mrs. Johnson said. That’s a British racing car.
“I don’t know a lot about cars, but I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years and have made some wonderful friends,” she said.
“We had super cars in 2019 and brought in thousands of people,” she said. Since Carpinteria is a beach community, there would have to be a Woody in the show. The station wagon with the wood doors and wood windows was a big part of the surf culture.
“We have a 1946 Ford Woody, a super deluxe wagon,” Mrs. Johnson said. “It comes from Lakewood, Calif.”
Fans will also get to see a 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom from Santa Barbara. It was originally from Britain, then was exported to San Francisco, where the owner bought it, Mrs. Johnson said.
Here’s another classic, an elegant one: a 1928 Chandler Special. It’ll be at Sunday’s event.
The children’s section will feature a treat for all ages, including Baby Boomers who grew up with the 1960s show: the car from “The Munsters.” It’s the original car created by Chuck Barris, who also designed the Batmobile in the 1960s “Batman” series. (The Batmobile appeared at the 2019 Montecito Car Classic.)
Mrs. Johnson noted the Montecito Car Classic is a testament to history, one that becomes more important as people increasingly switch to hybrids and electric cars. And today is an age in which Ford, which, of course, played a major role in automotive history, mainly manufactures trucks and SUVs.
That reminded Mrs. Johnson of the 2019 movie “Ford v. Ferrari,” the story of a 1966 race.
“Peter Brock, who designed the Daytona coupe that won the race, will be our honoree next year,” said Mrs. Johnson, who next year will begin to oversee special events for Million Air, an aviation company.
For more about Sunday’s event, go to montecitomotorclassic.com.