Pull over, L.A., Bay Area peninsula is California’s new car capital

By Justin Pritchard, The Associated Press
Monday May 20, 2002

Newfound wealth in Silicon Valley contributing to big increase in car ownership 

ATHERTON – There are more cars than people of driving age in this leafy pocket of Silicon Valley. 

If Los Angeles jump started America’s car culture, wealthy Atherton is one in a cluster of cities between San Francisco and San Jose that has revved the auto obsession into high gear. 

“The problem with having too much money is you can’t spend it quick enough,” says Del Boscacci, who as owner of Highway One Classic Automobiles sells exotic cars to area collectors. “At least in this area, buying toys, it’s too easy.” 

Atherton has 5,500 residents over age 18 — and at least 5,680 cars, according to census numbers. 

The total is probably even higher: just over half the houses have at least three cars. This in a town where the average household registers less than three people but has more than eight rooms. 

Alongside the town of Woodside and Los Altos Hills, Atherton easily tops other would-be California car capitals — including Beverly Hills, Malibu and Carmel. 

Credit the collectors, but also the families with a car for every occasion. 

“They’ll have a family wagon and the personal business sedan,” laughs Boscacci, who himself has six cars. “Then they’ll have a big SUV to go to Tahoe to tow their boat with, and the kids will have a car, and the maid will have a car.” 

The local phonebook lists more antique auto outlets like Boscacci’s than there are dealers of any ilk in entire California counties. 

“The dealers of the exotics are here. We’re not talking Toledo,” says Gil Gilfix, executive director of the Palo Alto Concours d’Elegance at Stanford. 

There’s no logical explanation for the plethora of cars, says Gilfix, who surveyed attendees at his prestigious show and found 60 percent had at least three. 

“Emotion is probably the biggest thing,” says Gilfix, who shares four cars with his wife. “They don’t need five cars.” 

Still, Boscacci says he has clients who keep adding to their collection that already number two dozen classics. Good for them, he says, but it’s a little much if all they do is take up space. 

“If it’s just going to sit in your garage and you’re going to polish it, go buy a Picasso,” says Boscacci. “Put your honey next to you and go for a drive.”