La Jolla – Car Goes Over Torrey Pines Cliff – Blacks Beach

For the locals back in the early 1960s, La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Cliff were known for three things, 1) the Glider Field, 2) Blacks Beach’s for surfing and nakedness, and 3) for pushing cars off.

Okay, the first two are still what the cliffs are known for, however the third, it is been outlawed for obviously reasons.

Back in the late  1930s Torrey Pines was a quick way to get rid of that junker, you know those white elephant Model Ts (now worth their weight in gold)  that  were a dime a dozen and taken up space in the garage. It wasn’t until old man Black built a road down to the beach was when the quick disposable dump site   discovered. At one time there was a number of Model-Ts laying at the bottom.

Blacks Beach below Torrey Pines Cliff

La Jolla’s peaceful Black Beach was not always known for it nakedness – but the scene for a more lively event.

Jack MacPerson and Bob Rakestraw started these events back in  1961 when they would play demolition derby with cars in WindanSea parking lot or in downtown La Jolla (they would intentionally crash into each other, scaring the hell of many La Jollans) until the cars suddenly became damaged goods.   So the big question was asked, “What to Do?”  That was when the brain started  thinking – Rackstraw would file off the serial numbers, and either tow or drive the car to the cliffs. What a perfect place to get rid of a car, plus drink a ton of beers while having some fun doing it …  sounds like a bitchen plan to me!

According to Dave Osborn (Red Mountain Inn) Eric Masterman and Doug Moranville, “It was a real rush as you had to hang out over cliff to see them land ………. then run to your cars and haul ass out of there” The reason for the quick get-a-way … well the cops had a bounty of  $500, plus towing fees on getting caught doing this. Five-hundred back in the 60s was worth about, $4000 now.

About the only problem (at the time) was driving down Black’s road to the beach. Old man Black (RIP) hated for people to use his private road, and would sit on his back porch with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with rock-salt, and sadistically fired at those scrambling down his road. To early surfers, the long boards were very handy; it provided a perfect shield from getting hit with rock-salt.

At first it was a spectacular event before the cops started to patrol the area.  A few cars were loaded with Meda locals would be waiting at the beach below, drinking beer, priming for the grand finale. Once the car got pushed off, cheers would start as the car tumbled down, then the explosion of the hit, a quick approval of the damage, then haul ass.

This awesome car final salute was being launched over Torrey Pines Cliff

This awesome car’s final salute was being launched over Torrey Pines Cliff

Unfortunately, this event was one of Mac Meda’s most expensive.  David Osborn said, “One time they bought Troyers family Woodie, a 1949 Buick. John Collins (RIP) a real La Jolla dare devil ran the show. The car was in great shape just old and tired. After crashing around in the back woods, and Collins drove it into a tree, and for some reason, it just did not run any more (gee I wonder why). So it got its final salute … it was then launched over the cliff.

Only 653, 1949 Buick Woodies were built, with very few in existences now; to have one now in mint condition, it would be worth 100-200K +

Special thanks to David Osborn, Eric Masterman,  Doug and old man Black (RIP) for adding to this post…

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Comments

  1. candy weston says:

    My friend and I used to ride our horses down the road to Blacks .we had to jump the horses over the gate and hope we could RIDER faster than Old Man Black could shoot.still have a scar on my thigh from getting shot at,when we just were not fast enough.Then we would ride the whole way down to the Shores thru the pier ,riding thru the water in th waves.Oh those were the days.1974 I think.

  2. At one point, Jack said the plan was…he was going to ride down in the car…wearing a football helmet and wrapped in mattresses. They would charge $1.00 admission to watch this moment of Mac meda history…at the last minute, he decided against it. I said, “You could have been killed!”…his reply? “Yeah, but I would have been famous!”…

  3. Dick Robinson says:

    It’s amazing how we remember things. we pushed cars off the cliffs 2 different times. My memory is this footage is the 1929 Jordon 4 door that was owned by Dick “Wings” Snyder. It had good tires, so we removed them. John scaled down the cliffs with his father’s 16mm Bell & Howell. Once in position, he signaled and we all gave the Jordon it’s final push. I think the model A episode was a few weeks before this Jordon show. But on the other hand, I have played your footage over and over in my mind many times and remember that you were south of the car while shooting not north as it shows here, so who’s memory is the winner? It’s still fun to watch after 60 years.

  4. The Enabler says:

    Kip Ives classic ‘Death of a Hudson’ is currently being featured on Surfer’s Journal homepage…check it out!!!!

  5. OK, try 1949, JB Canfield, Bud Rutherford, Dick Robinson, Charles Gewalt and his younger brother getting together, towing a ’31 Model “A” 2 door sedan (with a rope) from downtown LJ to Torry Pines, pushing it off the cliff and catching 12 rotations, count ’em, 12 on 16mm film. Anybody earlier than this?

    • Walter Plywaski says:

      I am an old friend of charles gewalt from the fraternity of Phi gamma Delta in Corvallis, Oregon. How is he doing?

      • Walter,

        I happened only now to see your note of 9/8/13. If you get this response, let me know by email provided (john@gewalt.us). I made one visit to OSU and the Fiji house while you all were there, great memories. Charles left us 10/1/09 after a struggle with cancer.

  6. Jerry Troyer says:

    Steve is right. It was a 1948 Pontiac with the Indian Chief Hood ornament and a “straight” 6 or 8 engine. However, the car was not in good shape as it had “thrown a rod” and was banging like the piston was going to come up right through the hood.

    John Collins did take it around a bit before steering it right up to the cliff and jumping out at the last moment. We were not sure initially whether or not he had gone over with the car. It was that close.

    Normally, we would have put a brick on the gas pedal and lashed the steering wheel, but there was some reason, that I forget, as to why, on this night, this one was handled differently.

    Can’t say it any better then Steve did, “those were fun years”.

  7. steve shultz says:

    I am really sad to hear about brud. Hope, Idaho is only about 85 miles north of my home in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. I wish I had known brud was so close. What happened anyway?
    When I moved away from La Jolla in 1971, I have missed a lot of you guys. Maybe I’ll make it back. Where is Denny? I thought you wern’t talking to me anymore doug, after the “triumph” sports car fiasco. I was so screwed up on coke and booze at the time, I even lost my marriage over the whole deal.
    Looking forward to coming for a visit.
    Steve Shultz

  8. Steve, where are you? Break out your old photos!!!!!

  9. Steve Shultz says:

    Actually, it is interesting how stories get a little bit changed from the truth over the years.
    I sold my 1948 pontiac woodie to jerry troyer in the early fall of 1960. That summer I had spent a lot of time restoring the wood, and having the engine rebuilt by colonial olds in La Jolla.
    The Troyer family didn’t have a ’49 buick woodie as the story indicates, it was the ’48 pontiac that went off the cliff. Check it out with jerry or his younger brother ronnie.
    Those were fun years. Steve Shultz

  10. GREAT PAGE… THANKS KIP!!!!!!!!

  11. Kip…Classic La Jolla footage. You’ve done it again! Surf history in the making!

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