This version has been edited to better reflect the model designation of the 1990 GTR.
As the sun started peaking over the Cascades, we woke to head out on an exceptionally interesting day. Not only was it the first drive of the year for the local Seattle Cars & Coffee meetings, an amalgamation of makes and models spanning nearly as many years as there were years of automobiles, but I was running next to sports cars in a 2016 Honda CR-V (obviously, I brought the right tool for the job…).
As soon as the Seahawks has lost their last match of the year, the call went out to spend Super Bowl Sunday out on the roads.
“It’s an event to see other people and other cars, and what they have. It’s a passion we have with our cars,” said Says Louangphakdy, driver of a 2013 Porsche Boxter S and the Admin of the meetup. “To hang out with people that have the same type of passion, same type of interest. It’s a nice day out and why not take it?”
The word spread quickly from the Seattle Cars & Coffee Facebook Group through the local automotive community and, soon, there were more than 600 people interested in the event. In the end, easily 100 cars showed up, however, since no one was counting, there’s no final estimate.
“I wanted to see some cars and go on a cruise,” said Jay Shrutton, owner of the 1990 Nissan GTR (R32). “It was something that one of my friends on Facebook said they were going, looked at the page and saw a lot were going, so I figured I’d check it out.”
When we arrived, there were scant spots left in front of Peet’s Coffee or Whole Foods in Redmond, just of 520. Within 10 minutes of arriving, spots were getting desperate and more were pouring in through every entrance.
We overwhelmed the parking lot. Sorry, Sunday Whole Foods or Peet’s Coffee shoppers.
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But what they got in return was a treat, to be sure. From those hundred-plus cars rolling through the parking lot there was everything from Dodge Vipers to new and old Nissan GTRs, Cadillacs, Camaros, Audis of every flavor (even one SUV), Porsche, Mercs, a Toyota pickup truck, Miatas, FR-S, BR-Z, … I could continue listing, but it’ll get old eventually and I’m sure you get the idea.
As the driver’s meeting started, people were still slowly trickling in, and even more so after it was completed. Getting out of the parking lot at Whole Foods and Peet’s Coffee was only slightly nightmare-inducing; next time I hope there’s a larger parking lot, maybe a Fred Meyer parking lot. Eventually, everyone got moving.
“I go to a lot of drives, its’ something I’ve done for many years,” said Matthew, the owner of a 2000 Jaguar S-Type. “Not many people have this kind of connection to vehicles, this group definitely has it.”
And it was time to drive.
My group leader (no walkie talkies on this drive) was a Subaru BR-Z, then a Nissan 370Z, followed by two more BR-Z/FR-S twins. Then the 2016 Honda CR-V (once again, I was the tallest vehicle at a drive…brilliance), then a nearly-classic Honda Integra, and a newer Ford Focus.
We started up on the road and… instantly got lost. Though honestly, it was rather worth it: How often do you get to say “We followed the wrong Ferrari.”? And that was the first time we got lost during the drive.
We followed the wrong Ferrari (it was an FF). One quick u-turn later and we were back on track, and only slightly behind the rest of the group. We headed south on highway 202 until we met up with NE Tolt Hill Road, a curvaceous delight between Highway 202 and Highway 203. Though, apparently we were supposed to go down NE Ames Lake Road-oh, well.
With the CR-V in ‘S’ Mode – I’m pretty sure that was for Sport. I thought ‘Sport’ was asking a bit much. And I’m sure that’s what the FR-S in front of us thought, too, until it kept keeping up. In the straights or in the corners it was just there.
Color me impressed Honda. Color. Me. Impressed.
We wound our way through the hills between Redmond, Carnation, and Duvall, enjoying switchbacks, scenic views, and the sounds of engines cascading through the trees.
Midway through the drive, we pulled over to rally on a very wide shoulder to ensure we were all together. Then, after a brief drone flight, we were all back on the road.
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And that’s when things really got confusing. See, without radios at intervals it was difficult to coordinate the directions.
“This is probably the biggest group that we’ve had, the biggest turnout, for sure. It’s nice,” Louangphakdy. “We usually have a lot of interest, a lot of activity, but then only 20 to 30 people show up. This one here is our biggest turnout, for sure. It’s great to see that the community get together.”
Some people starting going straight, others left, and my group got separated. After a few u-turns and a lot of body roll in the CR-V, a small group of us rallied at a gas station along 203 toward Fall City. We decided to just head off on the intended drive, not sure whether we’d missed the main group doing it due to the few side-paths or if they’d stopped doing the tour.
We organized the troops and headed back down the intended drive. A Mazda RX-8, the Honda CR-V, the Integra and Focus, a muscle-era Plymouth that apparently rolled like a barrel in the corners, a Pontiac G8 GT, and a Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
Back on the road, we hit up Ames Lake Road and then went the long way around to Duvall, via Kelly Road. With the valley spanning out to the right and hills to the left, we meandered our way around hill and dale.
“Our drives aren’t about speed, it’s not about driving aggressively, it’s about seeing new roads and new parts of the state,” Louangphakdy said. “We’ve driven a lot of different areas, a lot of places I’ve never seen, but it’s not about how fast you’re going to get there.”
As I slowly drove around the roads, the clouds were casting their shadowy light on the valley north of Duvall making a checkboard of brightness across the land. The RX-8 would downshift and the cacophonous sound of his Wankle rotary would scream through the air.
I attempted the same in the CR-V and the CVT came to life. At SUV pace. Though, arguably, better than I’d ever dreamed possible from the little four-cylinder. The AWD kept me planted to the road even in the hairiest of corners and, while the body roll was sending us into fits of laughter, it was still stable no matter what I did to it.
We ended up stopping at Ixtapa in Duvall for lunch, having lost the Hyundai and picked up a 2015 Mustang along the way.
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Over the Chile Colorado Burrito, we heard that the main group had headed back to Peet’s Coffee and then south toward Sammamish Falls.
Somewhere in Carnation, there was, sadly, one car-death in the family.
While the owner and passenger got out of the vehicle safely (thank god), a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO went up in flames due to an apparent fuel line rupture or leak. May it rest in peace.
No tickets were issued, no lives lost, one unfortunate circumstance, but all was well that ended well.
It was a great Sunday drive and we, personally, can’t wait to come back again. Though we have two recommendations:
- Slightly slower so that some of us can keep up (ahem, for the Integra, not the CR-V…)
- Invest in a few sets of radios so that people at strategic points along the way can coordinate between groups. I’ll bring mine next time.
Oh, and there will be a next time.
“We have everything from two-grand cars to hundred thousand dollar cars, that’s what makes this group unique; it’s not brand specific or model specific,” Louangphakdy said. “It’s going to be fun, the weather’s nice,… it should be fun!”
Yes. Yes it was. Until then, check out the Seattle Cars & Coffee group and click here if you’re interested in driving the route we’d gone.