Classic cars? Palm Springs history? Mid-century architecture? There’s something for nearly everyone on a channel combining all three that’s gaining a devoted following on YouTube.
“I wanted to do something I love,” says Del Johns – AKA Mr. Del of Palm Springs – who conceived the channel while cruising down Tahquitz Canyon Drive during the height of the pandemic in his beloved 1966 Pontiac GTO.
“I could do the tech,” he explains, “but I needed a host and collaborator to be on the other side of the camera.”
His choice was an outgoing Palm Springs neighbor, Denny Adams, who, in Johns’ words, is “a gearhead and a living encyclopedia of knowledge on cars.”
Adams was a bit reluctant at first. Not only did he need to balance other commitments — a full-time job as a house inspector, volunteering as an airport commissioner, and serving as president of his neighborhood organization — another factor was at play.
“I was a shy kid with a speech impediment. I couldn’t pronounce the vowels in words,” he says. “I didn’t know if I could do it.”
With speech therapy, he overcame the obstacles, but the memories were still there. In the end, his love for vintage cars won out.
The result was “The Cars of Palm Springs,” now running for more than 18 months. The show aims to give viewers up to 15 minutes of escapism and fun while learning about the thriving Palm Springs classic car culture, its mid-century architecture, and history.
The show is the culmination of a lifelong love affair with everything automotive for both Adams and Johns.
“My dad owned a 1939 Packard. My whole family loved cars,” Adams says. “As soon as I got my license at 16, I saved enough from my job at a grocery store to buy my first cars — a 1956 MGA and a 1969 Thunderbird. Then a 990 BMW 325is.” He still has the BMW and Thunderbird.
Added Johns: “I collected model cars, and my dad always had at least one classic car that he worked on. I always sat on his lap when he drove it.”
After more than a dozen episodes, Johns considers his highlight was a show filmed on the tarmac of the Palm Springs Air Museum, surrounded by vintage aircraft while a P-51 Mustang was taking off in the background. Also on his list of highlights was the Lotus Elise episode at Escena Golf Club course, “which has one of the most spectacular views of the mountains to be found in the valley.”
For Adams, driving an Avanti Studebaker, designed by legendary Raymond Loewy, and visiting Loewy’s home, was his highlight.
Palm Springs resident Bill McLin is not only a fan of the show but a contributor. Two of the three dozen vehicles in his collection — a 1957 Rambler and a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado — were featured in separate episodes.
“Since I was a toddler, I was a car nut,” says McLin. “There’s an old saying: the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys. These cars are about preserving the past. They are from the ’20s to ’70s. American Industrial art shows the progression of design through the 20th century.”
“These cars are a piece of history and bring back memories from the past. The first car we got after our first job or drove to our high school proms. We are celebrating American design and engineering and how it represented progress over the decades.”