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Burbank Car Classic: Where the Cars Are the Celebrities

In only its third year, the Downtown Burbank Car Classic has become an annual staple for Southern California automotive enthusiasts. Located near the Burbank Town Center, the celebration which takes place July 26 and is presented by the Downtown Burbank Partnership, is not without its luminaries (think, Jay Leno), but the real stars are the cars.

“Last year, there was such a great turnout,” said Danny Kahn, executive director of Warner Bros. Studio Tour Dept. “We had the Batmobile from the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy … the flying car from ‘Harry Potter,’ the Deusenberg from ‘Great Gatsby’ and the Mystery Machine from ‘Scooby-Doo,’ which kids love to take pictures with.”

The event’s main feature, a Red Carpet Expo, will again be strewn with cars featured on TV and in movies, and with custom cars and their makers.

“The street (San Fernando Boulevard) is divided to look like a stage,” said Batmobile car designer George Barris, winner of last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “It’s set up so that you can drive down there with all the cars (on display) parked on both sides, and you can go down the middle and walk and talk with everyone. It seems like Burbank is the only (show) that participates with the car owners and the drivers.” Other awards include best in show, most unusual vehicle and the Jay Leno Award — the top car as judged by the star.

More than 200 vehicles provided by the likes of Warner Bros., Auctions America and West Coast Customs will be displayed on the carpet and the surrounding blocks. Still, many of the show’s contributors commented on how their favorite feature isn’t the vehicles, but the atmosphere around the event.

“It’s one thing seeing the automobiles, but it’s about the friendships you make,” said Ken Latka, president of the Television Motion Picture Car Club, an organization of motor vehicle enthusiasts from the entertainment industry. “It’s all a passionate hobby, and we all share it.”

And for car-lovers whose plus-ones aren’t gearheads? “It’s a great place to bring a family,” said Petersen Automotive Museum curator of special collections Chris Brown. If your wife and kids aren’t interested in cars, the mall beckons. “They can enjoy the stores,” he said. “We have a whole street full of great restaurants, (and) a movie theater. It’s a really fun event.”

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