Automobile Enthusiasm

Custom cars return to Santa Maria for popular Cruisin' Nationals

Annual event draws hundreds of cars to the city

Custom cars return to Santa Maria for popular Cruisin Nationals

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - One of the biggest and most popular custom car shows in the world has returned to Santa Maria this weekend. 

The 35th annual West Coast Kustoms 35th Annual Cruisin' Nationals is once again back in the city. It marks the 10th straight year the car show is being hosted in Santa Maria.

"It's just amazing," said event co-founder Penny Pichette. "The colors, the array of cars, the years, the models. It's pretty special and a custom car is just different."

The three-day car show is a big deal. It annually attracts several hundred one-of-a-kind cars from around the United States. 

Pichette said cars registered for this weekend include states such as New Hampshire, Texas, Oregon, Washington and many others. There are even cars from Canada in the show.

The show is so popular, Pichette said there are always international visitors. She said some of them this weekend are from Japan, Sweden, Norway and other countries.

"You have people who come from all over the world to see these cars and really, really take in what the American car culture is about and it's great to see people embracing us this way," said owner Saul Cuevas.

The San Jose resident spent part of his Friday in the Santa Maria Inn parking lot applying some loving care to his pink 1957 Lincoln Premiere.

"This is truly and literally a lifestyle," Cuevas said. "You have to live it, breath it, sleep it and really, really be passionate about it and everybody here shares that in common."

While each car is completely unique and a true work-of-art, they do actually share something in common. The cars are all American-made, built in 1961 or earlier.

"We take what Detroit gave us and try and enhance those lines," said Rick Dore, a member of West Coast Kustoms Hall of Fame. "Whether it's a Ford or a Chevy or a Buick or a Cadillac, they're all here."

"It's not the one that came right out of the showroom," Pichette said. "Everything is built according to their specification. People want to be different. You can buy a '57 Chevy and they can all look alike, but you make it a custom and it's yours."

All day Friday, cars by the hundreds rolled into the Historic Santa Maria Inn parking lot.

While there, owners checked-in, giving fellow owners and visitors a chance to see the cars up close and personal.

"Each of them are works of art," said Cindi Cagle, visiting from Bakersfield. "The person who owns the vehicle details them to their taste. I think it's wonderful. I like the ones that have high sparkle. I saw one that was matte. They're all beautiful."

"My car has to have three things," Dore said. "They have to have style. They have to have elegance and most of all, they have to have attitude and you have a lot of that here."

The Cruisin' Nationals will be held at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Saturday and Sunday.

A popular cruise down Broadway is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the West Coast Kustoms website at

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