We shot a couple episodes last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and it was really quite an experience. We flew in a day early to scope out the event we were going to shoot and get a feel for it before our camera man was to arrive the following day. Turns out, it was a good thing we did.
The event was the Gran Feria de Autos Antiguos; loosely translated, the Grand Festival of Old Cars. It’s held at an exhibition center in San Juan, and it’s the biggest car show in the Caribbean, boosting over 2,000 cars. When we got there tho, we found that the vast majority of these cars were under large tents; row after row of them. It was like a huge tent city.
The tents are there because the sun can really roast you in San Juan, and it could just as easily be pouring down rain at any time too. It was actually pretty nice for spectators, but it was clearly going to present some challenges for shooting.
There was definitely a festival atmosphere there. It was like somebody threw a huge party and a car show broke out. The place was packed and there was all sorts of stuff going on. There was even a roving band of musicians playing high-energy island music complete with multiple drums and horn section. These guys were really working up a sweat!
We shot a little on our reconnaissance day with a small camera, but we hit the show the following day with a full crew. It was even more packed than the previous day, and it became obvious that these folks were huge fans of My Classic Car! I don’t think I have ever taken more pictures with people at a show than I did that day.
There were some really great cars at this show and some that I have never seen. There were also a lot of cars that you just don’t see any more on the mainland, like early 60’s Toyotas, Mazdas, and Hondas. VW’s were plentiful, and I saw a nearly perfect Mustang II. When was the last time you saw one of those?
To shoot specific cars tho, we had to move them out from under the tent into the aisle between tents to get them in better light. Sometimes this was relatively straight forward, and other times it required more extensive rearrangement to free the car we wanted, but everyone was more than accommodating and we came up with some pretty interesting interviews. English is not the first language for a lot of these folks, but using the universal language of “Car”, we always managed to get thru them.
The people of Puerto Rico were wonderful, and it is a beautiful island. All in all, I think this is going to make an interesting episode.
While we were there we also shot a day with Jaime Del Valle and some outstanding Jaguars. Jaime has the Jaguar dealership on Puerto Rico, and he and some of his friends have some really nice specimen of these sleek cats.
We basically assembled the entire line of Jag’s XK series. We had a ’52 XK120, a ’56 XK140, a ’57 XK 150, and Series I, Series II, and Series III E-Types. I was in Jag heaven! These were gorgeous cars, and we had them in a striking setting. It was really interesting to see the evolution of the technology over the years, and you could see Jaguar’s racing heritage in all of them.
The coolest thing tho is that in addition to all these complete cars, Jaime also has a running, licensed ’52 XK120 chassis. You rarely get such a clear picture of what’s under the skin of those beautiful cars, and this was a real treat. But the biggest treat of all is that we fired that chassis up and took it for a spin into old San Juan. You can’t believe the looks we got.
The ride was cut short due to a stuck thermostat that caused to engine to overheat, but just when we started to get a little steam out of the overflow, I was able to shut her down and coast to a stop in front of the 500 year old fort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. What a view! This turned out to be the perfect place to close the episode, which is fortunate since that chassis was done for the day.
Check out this sneak behind-the-scenes peak.
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A week from now, we’ll be shooting in Yuma, AZ. I’ll let you know how that one goes too.