Start Your Engines
From classics to customs, the Killer Rides Car Show has plenty for gearheads and Sunday strollers alike
By Stephanie Case
“This is pretty amazing,” Jay Leno marveled, his eyes fixed on a one-of-a-kind car: the 1915 LaBestioni Rusty Two.
The 101-year-old American LaFrance fire truck was once abandoned in the woods near Sacramento for 30 to 40 years. In 2014, a few firemen rediscovered it — rusted, stripped of all valuable parts, and tangled amongst 21 trees.
Then car restorer Gary Wales got his hands on the vehicle and gave it an extreme makeover. The result is a gleaming, Brass Era-style beauty, striking enough to earn a spot on the Emmy-winning web series “Jay Leno’s Garage” — and to win the top prize at this May’s Killer Rides.
At Killer Rides, a monthly summer car show on the edge of the Marina del Rey coastline, visitors can see hundreds of eye-popping cars up close. Across the lot, there are typically a melting pot of makes, years and styles — classic 1960s muscle cars, traditional hot rods, lowriders, air-cooled Volkswagens — all in a rainbow of colors. Last month, a vintage tomato-red Cadillac won the honor of “Best in Show.”
“We’ve had everything from the Lamborghini Aventador [a sleek Italian sports car released just five years ago] to a 1960s Corvette pulling a boat from the same year,” says Kevin Michaels, CEO of Killer Shrimp, the seaside restaurant that has put on Killer Rides for the past five summers.
When Michaels isn’t helming his business, he’s immersed in the automotive world. At 17, he built his first car: a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS. For most Killer Rides shows, he rolls up in his custom-made V-Twin motorcycle, which he’s aptly named “Killer Bobber.”
The show is a hit with car and motorcycle aficionados like Michaels, but just as many curious locals, tourists and families drop by to see the wheels on display.
At this Sunday’s event, attendees will get the chance to test ride a stationary Harley-Davidson. They can also check out a special car on showcase: a custom Daytona Coupe designed by the late legendary car builder Carroll Shelby.
In the 1960s, Shelby’s manufacturing company, Shelby American, made race cars at 1042 Princeton Drive, less than a mile from where Killer Shrimp now resides.
By giving a public platform to Shelby’s classic ride, Gary Wales’ LaBestioni Rusty Two and so many others, Michaels is doing his part to keep enthusiasm for cars thriving in Marina del Rey.
“SoCal is the capital of car culture,” Michaels says. “We’re happy to be a part of it.”
Killer Rides’ third show of the season is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at Killer Shrimp, 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. Call (310) 578-2293 or visit killershrimp.com.