Everybody loves a secret. Uncovering a hidden gem makes it all the more special. Trouble is, this one has gone unnoticed--at least by us--for more than three and a half decades. It's the Plastic Fantastic show, hosted in San Diego by the North County Corvette Club (NCoCC).
OK, maybe we're a little late to the party, but we finally made it, after enduring a couple swipes like, "You've never been here before, have you?" and "You've been missing all the fun." Well, that's not exactly true, since we have featured several cool Corvettes from this area, but judging from the standouts we spotted on May 6 at Seaport Village, we need to come back--again and again.
Perhaps our lapse in our editorial diligence has been due to the comparative size of the event, which is somewhat smaller than others we regularly cover, but ultimately it's really more about the quality of the Corvettes. Which is what Plastic Fantastic has in spades, living up to its name. Among the few hundred positioned on some grassy knolls overlooking the San Diego Harbor, we came across everything from '50s fuelies to sharp Sting Rays, from supercharged C5s to dazzling ZR1s.
01 One of the more popular...
01 One of the more popular attractions at the show was David Freedman's creamsicle '58, which is mounted on an SR3 tube chassis and fitted with an '01 LS6 engine and C5 dash.
02 After trashing three engines...
02 After trashing three engines in his 9-second '01 C5, Bill Tefend finally finagled a stout C5-R mill through a nephew who works for GM, then bolted on a blower and customized the intake housing.
03 No, it's not an original...
03 No, it's not an original Grand Sport from the '60s, but it's a pretty close D&D repro.
To make amends, we'll not only highlight some of the heavy hitters we spotted at this year's Plastic Fantastic (some of which we plan to revisit for future feature articles), but also take a brief look back at the history of the show.
Some say it's all in the name, and this title has been fitting right from the get-go. Members of the NCoCC felt that they needed to do something to honor the Corvette, and so a show was planned. The first Plastic Fantastic was held at the Mira Mesa Mall in 1977, when the club was only 5 years old. To everyone's surprise, 85 cars showed up. The event was such a success--for both the attendees and the onsite food vendors, whose supplies were very nearly depleted--that the Mall invited the NCoCC back the following year. And so a tradition began, one that would last nearly two decades.
By 1996 the Plastic Fantastic had outgrown the Mira Mesa Mall, so the NCoCC moved to its current location at the pleasant Seaport Village (adjacent to the Embarcadero Marina Park North). One of the most beautiful venues in all of Southern California, the Village offers a view of San Diego Bay, the Coronado Bridge and Island, San Diego Marina, downtown, and more. The event has become so well known and popular that cars now come from all over the country, not just San Diego county.
04 This gold Guldstrand 427...
04 This gold Guldstrand 427 Signature Edition appeared in the June '03 issue of VETTE.
05 Bruce Browne's '09 ZR1...
05 Bruce Browne's '09 ZR1 was dressed to the nines with accessories from American Car Craft.
06 Mark and Vicki Alter not...
06 Mark and Vicki Alter not only have a pair of Pace Cars (one of which took "Best of Show"), but three other collectible Corvettes as well.
Besides trophies awarded in several show categories, the event also includes raffles, vendors for Corvette accessories, and good eats grilled up by the Kiwanis Club of Rancho Bernardo, along with upscale dining at the many Seaport Village restaurants just a short walk away. The whole setup runs as smooth as a well-tuned LS engine, while a DJ spins CDs of classic rock ‘n' roll tunes.
Last, but far from least, is the charity aspect. The income generated by the Plastic Fantastic allows the NCoCC to donate thousands of dollars to the USO as well as the Wounded Warrior Olympics, in which veterans from all over the world come to San Diego to compete in sporting events.
As a tribute of sorts to both Vets and Vettes, we posed a couple of classic Corvettes at the base of a statue located near the aircraft carrier Midway. The statue--Seward Johnson's Unconditional Surrender--is based on Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous Life magazine photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. The structure has been the subject of some controversy (along with a number of mimicked poses by tourists for snapshots), yet it still makes a dramatic statement. We'll be revisiting this site and others in an upcoming touring feature, so nobody can say that the San Diego Corvette community is such a big secret anymore.
07 Frank Alfrey has more...
07 Frank Alfrey has more than 140,000 miles on his Aztec Copper '57 fuelie. It cost twice as much to rebuild the injection system as he paid for the car, but the Vette has otherwise been very reliable.
08 This C5 belongs to Bruce...
08 This C5 belongs to Bruce Santourian of Billet Custom Products, whose stylish valve covers we featured in a recent install article. Note that he also has an inordinate fondness for nitrous, to the tune of a 250 shot!
09 A pair of Sting Rays,...
09 A pair of Sting Rays, owned by Robert White and George Marks, linger in front of a statue inspired by Eisenstaedt's famous photograph, "The Kiss." In the background is the USS Midway.
- Approximately 300
- Pacific Coast Corvettes
- Millennium Corvettes
- Fast Glass Corvettes
- North Coast Vettes
- OC Vettes
- Corvettes Limited
- Corvette Club of Arizona
- Desert Sands Corvette
- Inland Empire Corvettes
- Southern California Corvette Club
- Corvette Super Sports
- Pomona Valley Corvette Association
- Sun Country Corvette Club
- Best of Show: Vicki Alter
- Sponsor's Choice: Harry Lekites
- Club Participation: Pacific Coast Corvettes (38 cars)
- Long Distance Award: Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Kendrick (1,158 miles)
10 Now in its 35th consecutive...
10 Now in its 35th consecutive year, the Plastic Fantastic draws some of the top Corvette show cars from Southern California and beyond.