European antique-car owners arrived in the city Wednesday for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of their 4,500-mile driving tour through mid-America on Route 66.
The rally--sponsored by the Club of Antique Automobiles and Rallies, one of the largest clubs in Europe--officially ended at the Santa Monica Pier on Tuesday.
But participants traveled to Huntington Beach to show their cars for a last time and to have a chicken dinner and celebrate Oktoberfest at Old World Village.
Most plan to ship their cars back to Europe on Friday and Saturday.
About 130 cars and their owners and passengers left Washington on Sept. 19. They were welcomed by Quakers in Pennsylvania, took part in a parade in Chicago, participated in a powwow with Navajos in Oklahoma, had a barbecue in Texas and watched the start of the International Balloon Race in Albuquerque.
Three couples married in Las Vegas. Another, a former Russian ballerina and her British husband, married the day before the journey started and spent their honeymoon on the rally.
There were four crashes involving the vintage cars. Three occurred when U.S. drivers rear-ended the slower-moving vehicles, according to one driver.
Eleven European nations and the United States were represented.
Cars in the rally included a 1924 Vauxhall, 1928 Tatra, 1928 BMW, 1929 Fiat, 1926 Austin Healy, 1935 Bentley, 1934 Alvis, and vintage MG, Jaguar, Citroen, DAF, Goggo, Lloyd, Borgward, Mercedes, Porsche, Ford and Packard models.
Colin Mullineaux, 53, a retired businessman from Portsmouth, England, drove the 1924 Vauxhall, the oldest car in the rally. It had to limp the final miles after its drive shaft was damaged in Albuquerque.
He said the car can still go 65 m.p.h. but he keeps the cruising speed at 40 to 45 m.p.h. out of deference to its age, he said. It gets about 25 to 28 miles per gallon of gasoline.
"Route 66 is a must if you want to find the real America and see the real people," he said. "They were great and the reception was overwhelming."
Geoff Purkiss and Olga Vikhrova Purkiss, a former ballerina in Russia, drove the rally in a red 1966 Austin. When it arrived in Huntington Beach, it had a "Just Married" sign on one window and a "For Sale" sign on another.
They met when Geoff Purkiss, a mechanic, signed up for a class in Russian language at Poole University that was being taught by Olga Vikhrova. He wanted to learn Russian after taking part in a rally from Amsterdam to Moscow, he said.
They are trying to sell their car in the next couple of days to avoid paying shipping charges, they said.
Huntington Beach resident Peter H. Rollenhagen, president of the fledgling California chapter of the Antique Automobile and Rallies Club, helped to arrange for the club's visit. He said he hopes the visit will help the local club, he said.