Exclusive Car Show Pops Up in Burbank Every Friday Night

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Unbeknownst to many in Burbank, car enthusiast Frank De Jesus puts on a car show with his friends right in the heart of Burbank every Friday night. The event is family friendly and unique in the type of cars on display. However, the event is by invitation only. To gain access, you’ll have to request an invitation through the group’s Facebook page.

Frank had a chance to sit down and answer some questions about his exclusive and eventful car shows.

How would you describe what goes on at your event every Friday Night? 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

It’s a place for Japanese classic car enthusiasts to meet and unwind at the end of the week by sharing their current project or comparing notes, tech support or sourcing out hard to find parts from other enthusiasts.  It’s a form of therapy that keeps you out of trouble on a Friday night.  Drug and alcohol-free family environment.  Passerby’s feel welcomed, intrigued and reminisced by the cars their parents drove back when they were kids or even owned one themselves when they were young.  OJCM usually brings back good memories to spectators and a smile with interest in finding their first Japanese classic or similar.  Even though we are a closed group we are known across the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America and other parts of the world by other fellow Japanese classic enthusiasts.  The farthest traveled Japanese classic recently visited from Hawaii.  Die-cast model trading is a growing trend, especially with some of our actual cars, have been made into Die-Cast Hot Wheels by Mattel.     

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

What kind of cars typically show up during the events? 

Japanese classics mostly.  Some spectators with newer cars of all makes try to fit in but quickly feel out of place when they realize they are surrounded by rows of rare Japanese cars.  Typically cars that need some work or are undergoing a restoration.  I don’t really care if the cars are “show cars,” that’s not what OJCM is about.  As long as you share the same passion for our cars, you are one of us.  Let’s face it, most of the Japanese classics are scarce making them rare compared to most American classics like the 1964 Mustang for example.  You can pretty much build one of those from scratch with all the aftermarket support and reproduced parts easily found on hundreds of websites.  Unfortunately, you can’t do that with our cars.  My car, for example, 1985 Celica GT-S you cannot find any website that sells aftermarket parts or replacement parts.  We have to source them from junkyards (if there’s any), new old stock parts from liquidators or used parts sold on craigslist or eBay.  Very little reproduction parts available through non-dealership sources.    

For any car enthusiasts looking for a show to go to, what makes your Friday night events unique? 

We strive to keep it “exclusive” to Japanese classics 20 years or older (pre-1997) since some 1992 models spill over the 25 year mark.  This is by invite only but it’s no big secret I just prefer to have quality people rather than quantity to support our obsession.  Some that attend regularly coming from Ventura, Orange County, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona even Bakersfield.  Some have traveled as far as Kentucky, New York, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and even Canada on their way to pick up another Japanese classic.  

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

What’s the most interesting and/or strangest car you’ve seen at these events? 

It never ceases to amaze me that almost every Friday meet we get a Japanese Classic “Unicorn” to show up.  For example; The Suzuki Cappuccino (early 90’s Japanese Domestic Market only not available in the US) micro car sometimes mistaken by a Mazda Miata but much smaller, 1981 Mitsubishi Lancer (right-hand drive) ‘Box Type’ AMG Turbo Powered 4-door sports car, 1960 Subaru 360 (the first production car from Subaru) 2-door rear-engine micro car with factory suicide doors seats 4 and is about 4′ wide and about 9′ long, Mitsubishi Delica L300 4×4 right hand drive ‘All-Terrain’ van, Mazda R100 (grandmother of the rotary-powered cars), Honda N600 (stock) and VFR 800 (motorcycle engine) powered Honda N600 (probably one of the most unique modified car I’ve seen) and the list goes on…

Are the events free? 

The car meet is free by invitation only.  I refuse to advertise our event on social media and only have a “Closed Group” page through Facebook which gets so many requests to join but I carefully screen every interested party.  Even though most of the people requesting are into cars I make sure to send them a message explaining that this is an “Exclusive” car group so they know this is not your typical car group.  

Where is it located? 

In the city of Burbank close to the 5 Fwy right next to the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

What are the event’s hours? 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

9 pm-Midnight (most of the time it goes longer)

Do other members of the Burbank community help you in organizing these events? 

Yes, a handful of the original guys who started the car meet with me back in 2012 help me during the Friday meeting as well as other community events I’ve been asked to participate, support or spearhead.  For example; LAPD – Toys on Patrol Toy Drive and Car Show (originally started by OJCM), Burbank’s Holiday in the Park Car Show, Burbank on Parade 2016 and 2017, Lancers Restaurant Cars and Coffee (Burbank) and Cars and Coffee at Cafe De Olla Restaurant (Burbank) just to name a few.

What prompted you to start these get-togethers and when did you start them? 

Always wanted to start one since I started attending and registering my cars for a show over 10 years ago at the Annual “Japanese Classic Car Show” in Long Beach, CA (Aka JCCS).  The interest in the Japanese Classics at the local car meets like Bob’s Big Boy (Toluca Lake) a was absent and if you showed up in one you would get asked to park away from the other makes.  Most of the time would get curious reactions from spectators but I felt out of place usually surrounded by American Classics.  Popular car meets overtaken by immature drivers (mostly Trust Fund Kids) showing off their latest tricked out BMW M3, new Mustang or latest Camaro SS motivated me to start OJCM back in 2012.  Not to mention the Honda, EVO and Subaru kids (sound familiar?) only attract negative contact with Police and safety concerns.  I just got tired of having to leave when burnouts, revving began usually resulting in “speed contest” “exhibition of speed and the Police showing up to shut down and asking everyone to leave or get cited. 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Do you show any cars of your own? 

Yes, 3 of my own.  All 1985 Toyota Celica GT-S Liftbacks in Red, White, and Silver, the primary colors of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) coincidentally.   

About how many people would you see attend these events? 

On average 30-50 people every Friday night. 

Why hold them in the city of Burbank? 

Burbank is a very welcoming city and it is a pleasure to go to the shops, restaurants and other business.  There are no parking meters nor have to pay to park in a lot to go shop or eat in Burbank, unlike other neighboring cities.  This is our way to give back to the local businesses, some shop and have to eat.  This particular location is key since it is centrally located, it’s not visible from the street and there is only one way in and one way out.  Another key factor is that the lighting due to local airport regulations stays on throughout the hours of darkness giving excellent lighting for photographers without the use of a flash.  Best of all, we have support by Burbank Police Department as well as Burbank Airport Police.   

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