What Was The Worst Car Meet You've Ever Been To?

Name that beach town, y’all!
Name that beach town, y’all!
Photo: Raphael Orlove

Growing up, I viewed car shows with the same suspicion as Trekkie conventions. Sure, I liked Star Trek. Sure, I watched The Next Generation every afternoon before dinner. But I didn’t want to go shuffle around a convention center on a perfectly lovely day just to talk about Star Trek some more.


It was my mom who dragged me out to my first show, somewhere in or around Sacramento. I remember the hyper green grass underneath all of the Novas and Buicks and whatever other muscle cars that rested next to their owners, silent sentinels in lawn chairs. The Beach Boys were a blanket cast over the whole affair, coming out of some sound system like a hypnotic device. I loved cars. I loved seeing them parked on the street, with rock chips and unfinished engine swaps and faded paint jobs. What was there was something different. They were full-sized replicas of cars, perfectly assembled by hobbyists in garages. It was like going to a model train show, only with less of a sense of humor.

I think back on that show a lot. I was almost speed walking through it, so eager to have it over and done with. Maybe I was too harsh on it. Maybe I should have looked at all of those pre-Recession builds and marveled a bit at the money and effort that went into them. Each car was an act of servitude from the owner, honoring some past that they might only hazily remember if they lived through it at all.

Was that a particularly bad car show experience? I can’t say it was. Nobody got arrested, or crashed into a crowd, or a sidewalk, or elbowed me out of the way to get a picture of a Pagani for their social media.

What about you, though? What was the worst shit you’ve seen go down at a meet?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.



I’m so glad to finally hear someone say this out loud! I always felt like I wasn’t really a car guy because a) I don’t care for car shows, and 2) I’ve never owned an Alfa.

Most of the car shows/meets I have been to are just like what you said: a bunch of old cars that I don’t really recognize, modified beyond what they were new, and a bunch of older guys chatting about chrome while oldies blast from somewhere. These memories usually end up in the “Fun Times with Dad” section of my brain.

The worst for me though, was once I went with a coworker to a parking lot in Dallas, Texas to one of those young people car meets. It was a bunch of crappy modified 2000s cars, with a few interesting GT-Rs, S2000s, NSXs, and GT350s. Everyone had flat billed hats, an energy drink, and a vape. There was nothing in the world I wanted more than to leave. Thankfully the cops came and we all had to leave anyway.