Cars and driving used to be synonymous with California — the red convertible driving up Pacific Coast Highway toward Malibu — muscle cars like the Mustang and the Camaro on the San Diego Freeway (I-405).

California has long been known for its car enthusiasts and their love for the automobile.

The Cobra 289 and 427—works of art by Carroll Shelby, that are now worth a cool million or two.

Corvettes, the 1955 Chevy with an eight-cylinder engine that screamed down the quiet country roads.

Alas, what happened to the California car enthusiasts? Yes, I know, fellow Baby Boomers, some of them grew up and forgot about the love affair with the automobile.

Today it’s really difficult to sustain that love of driving. In the first place, you have to have room on the roads to drive a car, and this has become much more difficult of late.

Between the gas prices, driving monster SUVs and cars that all pretty much look the same, our love of the automobile has diminished as we’ve run out of roads on which to drive.

Our roads have become parking lots where we mill around like cattle, hoping and praying for a chance to advance beyond the first of many traffic signals.

For example, take the morning traffic that shoots up Vista del Mar from the South Bay area toward Culver Boulevard and the Marina Freeway (State Route 90) with drivers speeding along, holding a cup of lattÈ in one hand and the cell phone in the other.

Or how about the traffic clogging up Lincoln Boulevard from beyond LAX down to the Marina.

There used to be a period of rest for traffic congestion on Lincoln Boulevard, but now it’s a never-ending clog that only threatens to get worse.

Traffic mitigation, you say? Sounds good to me, but how do you mitigate thousands of cars off one street and route them around to other streets, or set traffic signals to better move traffic along when you have too many cars on too little street?

Don’t forget about the new developments coming to a neighborhood near you. As it now stands, neighbors are complaining about cut-through traffic in residential areas in the Marina trying to avoid Washington and Lincoln Boulevards.

This traffic cut-through is the same problem Mar Vista residents have had for years. We’ve probably all been guilty of driving through residential streets in Mar Vista to get to Santa Monica.

In the evening, traffic on Jefferson Boulevard builds up as cars exit the freeway and use Jefferson Boulevard to get to Lincoln Boulevard.

The left-turn lane at Lincoln and Jefferson Boulevards in the evening is the length of three train cars as they wait for the light to change.

At the same time, the return traffic going north on Lincoln Boulevard is snarling and writhing like a beast, waiting for the light to change so the cars can continue their journey.

Where is the pleasure in driving? you ask. Today the pleasure in driving seems to be arriving home, exhausted, as you and your car limp into the driveway or garage, battered and bruised — in some cases literally if you’ve had a fender-bender on the way — and you can’t wait to get into the safety of your home.

As for those beautiful cars that used to roam our streets, they’re still out there, but the owners would be certifiably insane if they took their precious cars out in that horrendous traffic jam.

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