Off-roading on the Camp Jeep obstacle course
Off-roading on the Camp Jeep obstacle course


V​IDEO captures the action at Camp Jeep!

The first major Southern California auto show of the new year is held on January 1 in San Diego, in the spacious San Diego Convention Center.

Over 400 new-model cars and trucks, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, exotics, crossovers and SUVs were on display for the public to check out and compare – without any sales pressure. Instead, manufacturers’ product specialists were on hand to answer questions. Many automakers had interactive exhibits to entertain and inform.

Especially considering the rapid evolution of today’s automotive technology and features, an auto show is arguably the best place for people to learn, shop and compare, where hundreds of new vehicles are on display in a relaxed, comfortable, family-friendly environment.

V​ideo rearview mirror

According to national research provided by the San Diego International Auto Show, 64% of auto show attendees say that they are in the market to buy a car or truck in the next 12 months. More than 25% of attendees who plan to purchase a vehicle had their mind made up about which brand to purchase when leaving the show, and 56% of attendees who purchase new vehicles after the show said the show influenced their decision.

H​onda Ridgeline pickup truck

As it was at the Los Angeles International Auto Show after its introduction, the prototype of Toyota’s upcoming (summer) 2021 RAV4 Prime (plug-in hybrid) was featured in the Toyota exhibit. Also present was the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV.

2​021 Toyota Prius Prime prototype
2021 F​ord Mustang Mach E electric SUV

The O’Gara Coach Exotics Vault featured Bentley, Bugatti, Karma, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls-Royce.View gallery image

There was also a Cadillac retrospective exhibit…

1​959 Cadillac Coupe

… and cars from the movies. For a really cool, true story and photos documenting the construction of another replica of the Griswold Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s classic “Vacation” movie, starring Chevy Chase, visit:

R​eplica of the Griswold Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movie
A​MC Pacer from “Wayne’s World”

There were many opportunities for test drives available, both for drivers and also for passengers. Included were vehicles from Chevrolet, Chrysler, FIAT, Nissan, Ram, Subaru and Toyota.

The always popular “Camp Jeep” returned, offering showgoers exciting rides over a challenging indoor obstacle course to demonstrate the off-road capabilities of an assortment of Jeep models.

O​ff-roading VIDEO of the Camp Jeep obstacle course
O​ff-roading on the Camp Jeep indoor obstacle course

There was a large electric vehicle exhibit, with experts from San Diego Gas & Electric present to answer questions.

S​treet legal electric Moke (see

One of my favorite exhibits at the show was of highly customized lowriders.


Local vendors were also present with exhibits at the show. One particularly popular automotive exhibit was that of San Diego high performance automotive institution JBA Speed Shop. Founder (and racer) J Bittle was there, as were 14 great customer vehicles for a combined total of more than 8000 horsepower! These included a 1923 Ford T-bucket, 2009 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, 2019 Hellcat Red Eye, 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra (an original!), 1963 and 1964 Pontiac GTOs, 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser (with a very potent JBA LS3 under the hood!), 1967 Chevy Camaro RS, 1974 De Tomaso Pantera and a 1934 Ford Coupe.

C​lassic cars on display at the JBA Speed Shop exhibit

The new JBA tire center displayed slicks, drag radials, Mickey Thompson ProStreet 18” monster tires, off-road tires, crossover and passenger car tires, and more.

Since 1985 this family business (founder J Bittle – his customers call him “J”, wife Vickie, sons Austin and Stewart, and a staff of 30) has developed unique high performance and racing automotive products, and have built, engineered and hand-crafted many customers cars. The 22,000 square-foot JBA Speed Shop features high performance machinery and equipment (including a 1,500-plus hp DTS engine dynamometer test cell and a 200-plus mph chassis dyno), ASE-certified master mechanics, a large retail parts store, the aforementioned tire center and a high performance car sales showroom. They also do consignment sales, so that we can make room for new stuff!

J​ Bittle is on the extreme right

JBA Speed Shop does everything, from chassis to driveline, engine builds and repair, tuning, superchargers, NOS systems, restorations and more. They hand-build one custom engine every week, custom engineered to customers’ specific needs and requirements – unlike one-size-fits-all crate engines. The JBA Shorty Header is noted for blending high performance and reliability, while conforming to California’s Stringent emission laws.

As they say, on any given day at JBA you’ll meet automotive enthusiasts who visit to restore, modernize and update their rides, and then meet on Sundays to display and play with them. I’ve known J Bittle for many years and personally recommend the quality of JBA’s work and the friendly spirit of camaraderie that is ever-present in his shop. Check out JBA Speed Shop at

Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s San Diego International Auto Show.


Jan Wagner

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