1966 Jaguar XKE
Hitting the road in a 1966 jaguar XKE, the perfect combination of power and elegance.

Learning how to escape is a trait most of us have forgotten how to initiate. That is, until our two-week vacation pops up and we realize we should have booked that flight to that remote island months ago, but we were too busy to do it. When you actually take that trip, however, you realize that getting away is even sweeter when you can understand its importance in your life. Case in point, escaping to California’s Central Coast to enjoy a jaunt in a flurry of classic British motors.

Good friend and possibly best British restoration guru in California, Justin Jurgens, invited me out for a weekend filled with cars, food, wine and more cars. I’m a simple man and when such an invitation pops up in my inbox I will rarely say, “Thank you, but I’m busy.” Sure, my priorities in life can be viewed as questionable, but hell, an E-Type was waiting for me four hours north. So off to British Sports Cars in San Luis Obispo—SLO as it’s affectionately known—I went.

1953 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1
Justin’s 1953 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN1 classing up the neighborhood.

I loaded up the Abarth with fuel, a righteous playlist, and hit the road. Luckily, leaving relatively late on a Saturday morning didn’t prove to be a brain-bashing task. I pulled up to Justin’s house where he was already getting our first ride ready for the road. An early Austin Healey 100-4 BN1 in all its original glory. Justin came across this one with 26,000 miles on the clock, and some 1960s Pirelli tires still kissing the tarmac.

Once in Avila Beach, it’s easy to understand the desire and need to own a classic car at some point in one’s life. The amount of people you get to meet and interact with jumps well beyond the handsome spell puppies cast on college women.

Once back in San Luis Obispo, we decided to head over to a warehouse full of private cars Justin and his father have been enjoying since he was a young lad. Luckily, the keys were available to most of the cars, and Justin left it up to me to select the evening’s samples. We started with a real Mk1 Lotus Cortina, and then hopped into a Jaguar XKE E-Type 4.2L Series 1. To cap the night ride home, we happily wedged ourselves into a late-model Mini Cooper 40th Anniversary complete with modern comforts, but the looks of a proper classic.

British Cars
The cars come out of the warehouse to play.

At the start of the next day, we’d mapped a route along Orcutt Road in SLO to visit three wineries just on the outskirts of town. Would we take two cars? Maybe hire a car? Hell, why do that when you have an original 1939 SS Jaguar 3.5-Litre Saloon hanging out in the garage that can happily whisk four adults along the back roads in style?

939 SS Jaguar 3.5-Litre Saloon
Justin’s 1939 SS Jaguar 3.5-Litre Saloon navigating the vineyards.

The wineries along our route started at Baileyana. A few hundred feet South from there we found Wolff Vineyards, and we capped it all off at Chamisal—roughly a mile further south. If you’re into classic wine tasting with a tad more drinkability—and nothing you have to think too hard about—enjoy the Zocker Grüner Veltliner at Baileyana ($20) and the Red Wolf Bled at Wolff ($25). If you can swing it and are more in the mood for something more complex and refined, then the Monologue Pinot Noir ($100) at Chamisal will set the mood. If that’s too rich then the 2008 Califa Pinot Noir will suit you just fine ($52).

939 SS Jaguar 3.5-Litre Saloon
The sun setting on our sophisticated steed.

Whatever your fancy, San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area are well worth a trip—a journey made all the better when you’re riding in style in a classic British car.

Check out more photos from the trip!

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Writer and photographer Ezekiel Wheeler is a freelance automotive journalist, among many other pursuits. He is editor-in-chief at Automotive Styles Magazine, and has produced articles for several publications, including RideApart and Petrolicious. Ezekiel is an automotive designer by education, but obsessed classic race and tuner gear head by trade. When he’s not running around the globe chasing car phantoms, he’s at home collecting Hot Wheels and motoring books. Check out his blog, Automotive Conduct.