California-only show features some of the best of the west

| February 2008


Anton Affentranger, Roger Kreibel, Dave Kestler, Keith Billett, Greg Wakeman and Kim Kestler prepping an early model Samson for starting.

Photos by Rob Skinner

The California Gold Invitational Engine Exposition was held May 18-19, 2007, at the Affentranger Dairy in Bakersfield, Calif. This is an annual event for collectors of engines built in California. This year, it was hosted by the Affentranger and Panzone families.

California-built engines are rare and were generally not produced in the quantities as some of the engines built by the large eastern manufacturers. The eastern cities had a massive industrial infrastructure and, therefore, a head-start on the younger West Coast manufacturers. It was often more economical to import engines from the east than to build them locally. Even so, some local shops entered the engine business with some very unique and successful designs.

The California-only concept was the brainstorm of Bob Critz. The first shows were held at Bob and Georgia's home in Vista. Last year, it was at Larry Snow's in Red Bluff, and this year at Anton Affentranger's.

Enthusiasm for this event has been phenomenal. Collectors came from across the country to attend. Ultra-rare engines were brought for display, some of which had not been shown in many years. Other engines were fresh from the wild and had never before been shown.

Besides the stunning array of engines, this event is special because it's a get-together of folks who might not get to see each other on a regular basis.

On Friday evening, the Affentrangers cooked up a five-star pit barbecue. On Saturday, Bill Baldwin headed up the team of Dutch oven chefs. Bill's collection of Dutch ovens weighs more than many engines. There were about 100 people present for dinner.