Car town

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Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank California

Los Angeles is and will always be a car town. The introduction of the car in Los Angeles has brought about changes that cannot be erased. The once great public transportation system was derailed and its tracks paved over in the early 19th century to make way for the automobile. The multi-stacked highways and freeways that were the dream of the Collier-Burns Highway Act of 1947 made getting from one end of Los Angeles County to the other quicky a possibility. This Act greatly changed Los Angeles’ landscape and caused for better or worse our urban sprawl and a decentralized city. It is a city built on the presupposition that you have a car.

The car also had its hand in greatly influencing L.A.’s architecture. The automobile and jet industries advanced glass and fiberglass technology making possible the giant pieces that were so heavily used in Googie Architecture (Pann’s, Norm’s, etc) of the 1950s. These giant pieces of glass were used as marketing tool. When people drove by these restaurants in their cars, they would potentially stop at a traffic light, look into these huge fishbowl looking windows and see people having fun and eating tasty looking food. They hoped that this would make drivers and their passengers change their minds about where they were going and come in the restaurant instead. One of the pioneering examples of this is Bob’s Big Boy built in 1949. The oldest survivor in this chain of fast casual diners sits on the corner of Riverside and Evergreen in Burbank. In many ways not a lot about this place has changed since the 50s, and on Friday nights you wonder if you have been sucked back in time.

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Classic Cars, Bob’s Big Boy Burbank

My father has always been a gearhead and classic car fan. I remember on our long summer car trips him pointing out the window or strolling through parking lots to stop for food and saying that is a whatever year Thunderbird, a that year Corvette, etc. Before his last trip out a couple months ago I did some research on where we could see some classic and custom cars and I remembered from my early Los Angeles days someone saying that Bob’s Big Boy had a weekly event.

Bob’s classic car show is every Friday starting at 3:PM. I made the mistake of thinking like all L.A. events that this would start late, but when we arrived at 4:30, the parking lot was jam-packed and we had to park several blocks down the street. The parking lot and car hop spaces are filled with cars and motorcycles from all eras. You can wind your way around for a good hour our two, looking at details, customizations, and open hoods of exposed monster machinery. Representatives of the local car clubs mingle with each other like it is a family reunion, not conversing too much with the people who are there just looking around. There is even the temptation to bring some of these cars home with FOR SALE signs perched in windows. You can dream right? You in an early model convertible Porsche speedster with the top down cruising up the 1, with the wind in your hair. Isn’t that the California dream?

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Interior of a Chevelle Super Sport

If you love diner food, don’t forget to go inside. Bob’s has one of the best patty melts I have ever had. On another note, David Lynch used to write his films on napkins while sitting at the counter at this particular Bob’s. Maybe you can sit at a stool and soak up some inspiration.

Other events of interest: Bob’s has car hop service every Saturday and Sunday from 5:PM-10:PM and there is a classic car and 50s costume contest on the first Saturday of the month.

To see what we saw, go this blog’s Facebook page for more photos of this event. In addition, I posted photos from the George Barris/Culver City Car Show 2015 in May.

[Getting there: Bob’s Big Boy is on the metro 155 bus line]

2 responses to “Car town

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