by Pete Schulte
On the last Saturday of every month, the parking lot at Rosana Square shopping center in Overland Park, typically empty at 8 a.m., has various sounds from the automotive world — German flat and inline six-cylinders, American big block V8s, high-revving Japanese four-cylinders and the wail of Italian exotics — fill the air as 400+ automotive enthusiasts find their way into parking spots to enjoy complimentary coffee and doughnuts at one of the fastest-growing automotive events in the metro, “Cars and Coffee.”
The event was co-founded in August 2014 by Stephen Cook, an alumnus of the college and
former Campus Ledger editor-in-chief, and Bugra Durukan, both of whom currently work at Oakes Auto, a local car dealership that also sponsors the event. Cook and Durukan are friends and massive car nuts, both driving BMW M3s.
The event originally began at the Kansas City Automotive Museum and is open to all makes and models. The aim is simple: to give automotive enthusiasts driving all different makes and models a relaxed environment to appreciate each other’s cars and enjoy a shared passion over coffee.
“I was involved in the Kansas City Automotive Museum at the time, and I had actually just started working at Oakes Auto,” Cook said. “I’ve always loved morning car events, and Kansas City’s never really had a long-lasting morning car event. So, kind of working with those two organizations provided me some opportunity to get a sponsorship from Oakes Auto. … It’s kind of a humble beginning, but Bugra and I, [we’re] just two friends. We wanted to get everyone out, have a lot of fun and have a regular car event that the city can enjoy.”
Mark Macoubrie, local automotive enthusiast, enjoyed his first visit to Cars and Coffee at the latest event on Feb. 27 and said he’d definitely attend future events. Macoubrie said he appreciates the wide variety of cars, as he personally enjoys opposite ends of the spectrum, driving both a 1970 Buick GSX muscle car and a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, a car he races in the dirt, enjoying a form of motorsport called rallycross.
“It was awesome,” Macoubrie said. “I saw just a tremendous amount of different cars. It was really cool, the different types of cars that were here. Everything from old cars, street rods, muscle cars, exotics, Japanese cars. Really phenomenal, and a huge selection to look at.”
Another local automotive enthusiast, Armondo Groves, attends the event with his 2005 Honda Accord, which may look a little different from the vehicles drivers are accustomed to seeing. Groves, who does graffiti art, created artwork on the side of his Honda and has exhaust piping extending beyond his trunk, something popular in Japanese car culture called “bosozoku.”
“I put the artwork on the side of it myself because I do graffiti on the side,” Groves said. “I’ve very much adapted the culture in Japan to my car because I’m very into the Japanese culture. That’s why I have the bosozoku pipes on the back and everything. I’m pretty much just trying to do something different out here. There’s a big variety out here at Cars and Coffee, so I figured I’d add a little bit more to it myself. … Not a lot of people are here to bash other people’s cars. They’re all here for the same reason, and that’s their passion in being a real car enthusiast.”
According to Cook, the relaxed environment and promotion through social media are some of the reasons the event has grown from 30–50 cars at their first event to roughly 450–500 cars at their most recent event just a year and a half later. A year into the event, Cook had to find a new spot, as the event quickly outgrew the original venue, the Kansas City Automotive Museum.
Kansas City Cars and Coffee is not the original Cars and Coffee, however. The event originally got its start in southern California as local street rod enthusiasts began meeting up early on Saturdays to enjoy coffee together. Word got out, other enthusiasts began joining in and this turn of events eventually spawned Irvine Cars and Coffee, an event that eventually grew to host over 1,000 cars per event before being canceled for outgrowing the venue. Cook said he was fortunate enough to attend the final Irvine Cars and Coffee in 2014.
“That was just a fantastic experience. Seeing how many cars, the variety of cars, the caliber of cars was incredible. It gives me some goals for continuing to refine our event and making it more organized,” Cook said.
Cook cited his time at the college as one of the things that allowed him to be able to pursue his passion for the automotive and motorsports world.
“I’m really fortunate. I loved my time at JCCC, and I loved my time at the Ledger. It’s something I’ll cherish forever,” Cook said. “I’m just pursuing my passion. Being able to have a positive influence, that’s been a lot of fun.”
The event has permits from the city of Overland Park to run Cars and Coffee at Rosana Square until November 2016.
“We plan on being here for a while, but after events like today (Feb. 27), one can only wonder how long it will be before we max out Rosana Square, so it’s kind of hard to say,” Cook said.
The next Cars and Coffee event is March 26. For more information, visit their Facebook page, Kansas City Cars and Coffee.