People who love cars love to gawk at them and generally love to talk about them as well. That’s why car gatherings have become the great tailgate parties of our summers.
One of the most charming events to grace our calendars is the Caffeine and Carburetors gathering that has worked its way into New Canaan’s good graces. Only last year there was some simmering doubt about all the cars that gathered outside of Zumbach’s coffee shop at 77 Pine Street of a Sunday morning, and motions were made to stop it. But then downtown merchants took notice that the parade of antique jalopies and high-end sports cars was not turning the fair town into a Hell’s Angels picnic but rather a lovely day for strollers. And customers.
The September 7 conclave drew, according to official estimates, 740 cars and up to 4,000 people, although it seemed like more. “As you can see,” says Doug Zumbach, proprietor of the coffee shop, “it’s a real family event. There were lots of kids, dogs and grandmothers in attendance.”
Sure, and a few leather clad bikers on long-distance BMWs, too. This time around, the event was allowed on Elm Street as well. The line of cars hooked around the station and went up Pine, filling every parking lot, side street and cubbyhole with Ferraris, Cobras, American muscle cars and distinguished old flivvers. Almost everything had been driven to the event. There was no judging of cars, and not even a charge for admission.
“We asked the participants to bring something for the food drive,” Zumbach notes, “and we did well. We ended up taking more than forty bags of groceries to the local food pantries.”
The gathering has so worked so well that he won permission to stage the next event at Waveny Town Park on October 19th. For 2015, there will be four Caffeine and Carburetors affairs—two downtown and two at Waveny.
It’s an early-riser’s event The hours have so far been 8:30-11 a.m., but lots of drivers arrive even earlier (and then leave early, too). This is particularly good news for the coffee shops in town. Zumbach, who pays for the security, insurance and whatnot, wouldn’t tell us how many cups of java he moved, but laughed that he had to bring in a lot of extra staff to help pour.
Outside on the streets, among the beautiful pieces of automotive iron, people were wired on something besides the coffee. The vehicles all seemed to loudly proclaim: Here is how you make your escape.