Secret Car Club in Rancho Santa Fe attracts a wide variety of car lovers at weekly event

By Karen Billing

The Secret Car Club is perhaps the worst kept secret in Rancho Santa Fe, as many people are big fans of the collection of beautiful classic cars that converge on the village every weekend. On Saturday mornings, Avenida de Acacias and Paseo Delicias is lined with a variety of cars, from a 1910 Maxwell to the newest Mercedes. Motorcycles too.

The cars may be flashy but the club is not—it’s low-key and all-inclusive, according to founder Chris Erickson.

“We’re here for the love of the cars,” Erickson said.

Erickson is a realtor with Willis Allen who has been working in the area for more than 21 years — the last six years his office has been on Paseo Delicias. The idea of the club started after talking about cars with several of his clients.

“With a lot of car clubs there’s so much politics and the car world can be very clique-ish,” Erickson said. “We just wanted to start something casual with some of our friends and get together on Saturdays.”

It started with just four car enthusiasts meeting up on a Saturday in the Ranch, but then it kept growing week by week. The weekly meeting event started to become a destination, attracting everyone from classic car owners in Los Angeles to residents wandering into the village from a Saturday morning walk on the trails.

SecretCarClub2Erickson said the club has become a really interesting mix of people, free of politics, where everyone is on the same page. It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or a mechanic.

One week they had a Minerva, a car from the early 1920s that was sold for nearly $2 million. Erickson said the car was stunning, with its “sweeping fender” and khaki tan canvas top.

While the cars can stun, there’s more to the group than just the cars. One Rancho Santa Fe teenager used the club to pick the brains of fellow car lovers to help restore an old Land Rover.

Another Rancho Santa Fe couple’s grandson takes his grandfather’s Model A car out to the club whenever he’s in town from college. It’s an opportunity to give the car some exercise and the entire family comes out for the morning.

“It’s grown into a social group more than anything else,” Erickson said.

The club has a lot of women as well, women who race cars, who can turn a wrench and are just car-lovers who want a venue where they can hang out and not feel like the odd-woman out.

“This is somewhere that they can fit right in,” said Erickson.

SecretCarClub3Erickson said that the club also helps promote the local village businesses. He said there’s always a line to grab coffee at “Tim’s place” (Caffe Positano) and people often head to Thyme in the Ranch or The Inn for brunch.

The club has also had the opportunity to get involved with the community. They were able to loan some classic cars to the RSF Community Center for its Great Gatsby gala fundraising event last year. The club is also looking to get involved with the RSF Fire Protection District’s pancake breakfast.

On March 6, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved a nine-month trial run for a village farmers market. Although the car club meets from 9-11 a.m. on Paseo Delicias and Avenida de Acacias and the market is planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on El Tordo, between Linea Del Cielo and Avenida de Acacias, the board members said they feel that the two should be able to co-exist.

Erickson encourages the community to come out and visit them.

“It’s a fantastic group of people and cars that you be hard-pressed to find in a museum,” Erickson said. “You never know who is going to show up and what they’re going to bring, that’s what makes it special.”

For more information on the Secret Car Club, find them on Facebook or call Chris Erickson at (858) 775-2161.