Being a die-hard Mustang enthusiast here in Southern California has its advantages and disadvantages. Sure, we are lucky enough to have great weather, a plethora of windy roads to enjoy, and of course, plenty of beach cities to explore.
But it’s no secret that we are often subject to some very tight restrictions when it comes to upgrading our vehicles to match our unique build styles.
While the rest of the country may think that SoCal drivers are so hampered by emissions compliance that they are just driving around in stock vehicles, this simply isn’t true. The muscle car community here in Southern California is very much alive and well with no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. And a perfect example of this was proudly on display this weekend in San Diego, California.
This past weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of the Mustangs by the Bay Car Show. The annual event, which is brought to you by the Mustang Club of San Diego, brings like-minded crowds of muscle car enthusiasts from all over the West Coast together to celebrate America’s favorite Pony car.
The annual event takes place on the historic Embarcadero Park in San Diego, California, with many of the vehicles on display just inches from the scenic walking path that surrounds the San Diego bayfront.
This year was completely sold out with nearly 350 Mustangs of all makes and models on display for enthusiasts and visiting tourists to enjoy.
While we have covered this event many times in the past, this year, we decided to experience the annual event not as journalists, but as everyday car enthusiasts.
So just like all of the other 300+ Mustang entries this year, we applied and entered our latest project vehicle, our Magnetic Metallic 2019 Shelby GT350, into the show.
We also signed up to attend all of the pre- and post-event activities that go along with this show to get a first-hand look at what your everyday Mustang enthusiast goes through to get their vehicle ready in time for the big day.
Meet and Greet at JBA Speed Speed Shop
Unless you are entirely new to the Southern California car scene, most SoCal muscle car enthusiasts have either heard of or have attended a Coffee and Cars event at JBA Speed Shop in San Diego, California.
The team’s burnout box is legendary, and owner J. Bittle and his team are always on hand to answer any questions you might have about taking your build to that next level of performance.
This year, the JBA Speed Shop team hosted a Meet and Greet event the night before the car show, to give enthusiasts from out of town a place to break the ice and show off their hard work in a familiar car guy environment.
We cruised into the JBA Speed Shop event right around 4 pm when it was scheduled to start. Right away, we were immediately surprised by just how many cars were already on display in the designated parking spots! If we had arrived about 15 minutes later, we probably would have had to park outside in the overflow parking area!
The event featured an all-you-can-eat style buffet courtesy of STP Bar-N-Grill, with plenty of BBQ-style dishes for enthusiasts to enjoy.
The team at JBA Speed Shop also gave enthusiasts full access to both buildings to show the crowd what vehicles were being worked on in the shop.
What made the Meet and Greet such a success was that it gave people participating in the car show a much smaller area to discuss their builds before the actual event.
Early Morning Cruise-In With Immortal Stangs Car Club
Now we all know if you are participating in a car show or club meet in your city, that usually means there is going to be some kind of car club cruise-in, right?
Well, as we mentioned earlier, because we were attending this event as Mustang enthusiasts, we wanted to get in on that action as well. So we spent a reasonable amount of time on the local SoCal Car Clubs social media pages to find a meeting place that was in our area. We found that the Immortal Stangs Car Club was rallying up at around 6:30 am here in San Diego to convoy out to the event at 7:00 am.
Having attended a couple of these particular clubs events in the past, we simply showed up at the required time to see if we could cruise with them to the event.
When we arrived in our brand new 2019 Shelby GT350, they immediately recognized the driver and were more than happy to host us for the day. This particular early morning meet was also a special occasion as, unknown to us, the car club was introducing two new members to the group.
We were able to watch as they each received their custom-made Immortal Stangs Car Club T-shirts to wear proudly at the event. Then at 7:00 am sharp, we all lined up our vehicles and rolled out onto the 5 South Freeway heading into downtown San Diego.
The total cruise only took about 10 minutes, but it was really cool to see a diverse sea of Mustangs participating in the cruise. We had classic Fox-bodies, EcoBoost Mustangs, and even the latest S550s and Shelby Mustangs all cruising together in style.
Having Quite The Day In America’s Finest City
Once we arrived at the venue, the event coordinators had each class of vehicles assigned to a specific area at the park. And it became immediately apparent to me why the Immortal Stangs wanted to head out so early; it was already jammed packed!
Arrive early, and you get a good spot for your car. We got lucky and were able to park our Mustang in the front row of the Northern section of the park, right next to the walking path which was the closest row to the waterfront!
But if you ask me, there really were no bad spots to park your vehicle. There were nearly 350 vehicles on display, and I counted at least 100 S550s in my area alone.
In the center of the park was a large sponsorship venue, which included JBA Speed Shop, Kearny Mesa Ford, and of course, the Mustang Club of San Diego, to name a few.
The Boy Scouts of America were also on-hand with plenty of food and drinks throughout the day. The Mustang Club of San Diego did a great job handing out a ton of different trophies for the different classes of vehicles, and many of the event sponsors had some cool prizes they were raffling off throughout the day as well.
Mustangs by the Bay Is A Must See Event In San Diego
If you happen to be in the SoCal area during the month of October, we highly recommend marking this one down on your calendar next year. The event is entirely free for the public to attend, and when you combine plenty of cool cars with the breathtaking views of the San Diego bayfront, you get an event that is hard to beat.
We had a blast attending this year as just your “average” car enthusiast. Special thanks go out to the Immortal Stangs Car Club for inviting us to hang out with the crew for the weekend.
If you didn’t get the chance to attend this year, here is a large photo gallery that we captured from the weekend-long event.