Skip to main content

It’s a ritual for many truck, sports car, classic car, and supercar enthusiasts: Cars and Coffee on an otherwise sleepy weekend morning. However, while your local event might host a handful or a few dozen committed car fans with their treasure, there is a little beach town in California that will blow them all out of the water. I dropped by the South OC Cars and Coffee in San Clemente, the self-proclaimed biggest car show of its kind in the United States.  

Where is the biggest Cars and Coffee?

Crowds move about at the South OC Cars and Coffee in San Clemente.
Crowds move around cars at the South OC event | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

The San Clemente Cars and Coffee, or “South OC Cars and Coffee,” is the biggest event of its kind. The staff who run the South OC event assert that it isn’t just the largest C&C in the country; it’s also the largest weekly car show in the world. 

I had the opportunity to drop in and see it for myself on a recent journey that took me from Las Vegas, Nevada, down to San Diego, California, in a Dodge Challenger GT. While the GT was plenty entertaining, the news of the massive car show was too great to pass up. I ran down San Clemente’s scenic beach path, dodging other runners and dog walkers as I closed in with the event. 

I didn’t even have to cross the threshold into the event to see how the show generated so much buzz. Everything from first-generation Ford Mustang Mach 1s to Mk2 Volkswagen Golfs to Lamborghini Huracáns queued up on Avenida Vista Hermosa, awaiting an opportunity to show off. Once I climbed the ramp and reached the sun-soaked show, I was far from disappointed. Thousands of spectators gathered around gleaming cars, trucks, and motorcycles.   

How many vehicles show up to the South OC Cars and Coffee?

A white and black Koenigsegg Regera cruises by at Cars and Coffee in San Clemente.
A Koenigsegg Regera | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

South OC Cars and Coffee reports that the event draws between 1,500 and 3,000 cars weekly, depending on factors like holidays and weather. Of course, San Clemente’s weather might actually be the textbook definition of perfect. 

What kind of cars will you see at the San Clemente Cars and Coffee?

A black De Tomaso Pantera shows off its slick lines at a car show.
A De Tomaso Pantera | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

My visit revealed thousands of cars from every conceivable niche. Entire clubs of Honda S2000s, BMW M3s, and Honda Civic Type Rs showed up in force. Still, despite the obvious automotive kinships, there was chaos to the car show. A classic BMW intertwined with a modern Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 here, an Autozam AZ-1 kei car with a wrapped BMW M car there. However, isn’t that why most of us love cars? While they’re the subject of heated contention, the damned things also unite us across makes, models, and categories.

Where are some other large Cars and Coffee events in the United States?

A row of classic cars line up at the San Clemente weekly car show.
A row of classic cars | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Why Does GM Have So Many Recalls?

Unsurprisingly, a visit to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, on a C&C day will yield a haul of cars, trucks, and motorcycles in the quadruple digits. However, while San Clemente put on an enthusiasts’ show devoid of strict organization, the staff at COTA’s event sort cars into make and age. 

Still, there are plenty of large events happening every weekend around the country. Where is your favorite car show? Share your experiences and opinions in the comments below!