Arroyo Grande Coast News Community News Pismo Beach

Pismo’s Donut Shop Derelicts

There are a lot of “car guys” on the Central Coast.

If they’re in Pismo Beach, or on their way there to show off their rigs on a Saturday morning chances are they get up a lot earlier than the rest of us do.

Twelve years ago, Jim Carson, a retired police officer from Orange County moved to Pismo Beach with his wife and, looking for something to do that felt a little more like home, started talking to some local guys about setting up an informal club like the one he left behind.

Within a few months they started meeting at the OSH/Ross Center on Oak Park and James Way in Pismo Beach.

“I started talking with friends after moving here,” Carson explained. “Our lives were very structured and ordered, no time to just get together with no politics or club regulations, membership dues.”

They met up with the folks who own Golden Donut shop in the shopping center and arranged to use their parking space from around 7:30 till 9:30 on Saturday mornings.  They didn’t speak with management of the center at the time, but Carson said they later heard the owners were pleased with the boost in business the car guys brought to bear. At the time there was a grocery store in the center as well, but a lot can change in over a decade. A constant business boost they’ve maintained is that, “all the guys shop at Osh [the hardware store].”

“The first week there were five cars and I said, ‘If we get to 50 that’s it, we’ve reached max,’” said Carson. “There were 50 less than a month later.”

The general range for the “Pismo Derelicts” is Santa Maria to Paso Robles. Carson and the others called around to the dedicated clubs in the area and got a following before too long, but unlike other car clubs, they’re not too concerned about protocol, just that everyone is friendly and respectful.

After all, their regular group includes about 20 retired law enforcement officers and they get visits from the Pismo Beach Police on patrol, “we love those guys,” Carson said.

Their webmaster for is a retired teacher.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about that, how we want to present ourselves,” said Carson. “That website is max PG-13. A first grade teacher could log on to teach kids the colors of the rainbow, they’re all there.”

One of the interesting facets of being a group of mostly older folks that gets together around a mutual interest, there’s no discrimination, of any kind, even between Chevy and Ford aficionados.

“You know, a lot of the enthusiasts tend to be an older demographic,” said Carson, “When we started as kids cars and parts were cheap. Now the ones we liked and grew up with are the expensive models.”

Most of the guys that come out early on Saturday are guys that have retired to the Central Coast from the LA an Bay areas where there was a huge car culture encompassing drag racing and hot rods in the 1950s – 60s.

They’re doing their best to draw in a younger, more diverse, crowd though.

“Lots of these ‘guys’ will be looking back wanting 80s cars when they’re old. They won’t be going for the older models we like. It’s guys and gals too. Quite a few younger women with some very nice cars,” said Carson, noting that, “A 1948 Chevy may park next to a brand new Ferrari. We don’t discriminate. We have hybrids, and Tesla [Motors] even brought out vehicles from the factory.”

Routinely, 150 cars show up on a Saturday morning with several hundred people ready to gawk. Mayor, city council people and contenders for other local office make the rounds during the seasons, and Carson adds, it’s a great place to hand out flyers if you want attention.

They don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, but if you want to get in on one of the cruises that members plan with each other or the networking opportunities, made possible by many professional types coming together for a mutual passion, better to get to know them sooner rather than later.


  • Story by Camas Frank, Photos by Herb Shoebridge

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