Parking Garage Concours: A Mysterious Stash of 30 Curbside Classics at the Irvine Transit Center

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A few weeks ago I took my first train ride from San Diego to Irvine. I was dropping off a car there and needed a ride back to Los Angeles. Amtrak runs a line between the two cities four times a day.

The train was quiet, comfortable and stopped at picturesque beachside communities along the way. It went so well that I decided to take a second trip, this time leaving my car in the parking structure at the Irvine Transit Center.

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I was expecting the structure to be fairly empty because on my first trip to the station, it was deader than a doornail. Here is a photo I took during “rush hour,” leaving Irvine for San Diego at 9AM. Not sure why more people don’t take this train. Is it the price, slow speed (and numerous stops) or simply lack of awareness?

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What I wasn’t expecting was for the parking structure to be chock-full of 60s and 70s Curbside Classics. If I had more time I would have scoured the lot and taken better pics.

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The first car I noticed was called an Audi 60 / 75 / 90, depending on the engine.  It was originally the two-stroke DKW F102 but when Mercedes bought Audi in about 1965 they developed a new four-stroke unit for it, and re-launched the Audi brand.  This car was the very first post-war Audi.

Like an idiot I thought “Wow someone is still driving one of these every day!” It wasn’t until I saw a tattered Bavaria a few aisles over that I put two and two together and realized the cars were part of someone’s fleet.

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All registration tags were current because otherwise the owner would run the risk of the having the cars towed and impounded.  Does he drive them often?

And who is this guy? A small-time dealer holding on to a stash of forgotten cars that might skyrocket in value some day? A mechanic who acquired the cars from folks who gave up and tossed him the keys?

My guess is “No” to all of the above because the owner’s tastes are quite specific. He is what I would be in my purest form – and with an amazing storage facility like this – a CC hoarder. To not be so judgmental let’s call him a collector.

Another mystery was trying to figure out which of these gems were part of the fleet and which were daily-drivers not owned by the collector.

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If the car was dusty I decided it had to belong to our hero. Like this very rare early-90s Infiniti M30 Convertible.

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There were four Audi 100LSs including two in the coupe bodystyle as shown here. These Audis seem to have an affinity for VW Cabriolets.

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The guy is definitely a Volkswagen / Audi fan. There were no fewer than three Type-4 VWs. Does anyone know what that second “dummy” tailpipe does? I’ve always wondered about that.

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In keeping with the Auto Union theme here is an NSU. When was the last time you saw one of these any place other than a car show?

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BMW was well represented. There were three “New Class” 4-door sedans. I always thought these were rather homely looking. The black plates suggest the cars have been in California for a long time.

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How about some anything-but-homely E3 sedans and an E9 coupe? I hate when non-stock tailpipes are used and angled down like that.

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This 2002tii looked relatively well kept except for the dorky tailpipe.

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A sharky E24 was the newest BMW in the group and appeared to be missing its lower jaw.

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I saw no old Mercedes but found two Jaguar XJ Series III sedans hanging out.  Check out the vinyl top on the ’73 100LS Coupe.

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Speaking of vinyl tops, this was no ordinary Plymouth Valiant but rather a highly-desirable Brougham model.

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There were no GM products of any kind but plenty of Mustangs and, of all things, Valiants.  Again there are those funky and very specific tastes.  No Darts, just Valiants.  Fetish may not be too strong of a word.

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I believe this immaculate Fairmont is a real-deal daily-driver and not part of the fleet.  Isn’t that Triple-A bumper sticker just perfect on this car?

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I feel the same about this third-generation ‘Lude, it’s a daily. What a sexy little thing.

Now imagine for a second that the collector was actually a kind and generous genie and offered you a single wish, the keys to one of these classics and $5,000 cash for repairs / maintenance.

Assuming the cars were all in equally good running and cosmetic condition, and you could not re-sell the one you chose, which would you take?  The wish would include a free parking space in a place as safe and secure as the Irvine Transit Center.