Vintage car museum gets green light from Costa Mesa planners

Costa Mesa planning commissioners unanimously signed off Monday night on plans to turn a Westside industrial site into a vintage car museum and cafe.

Richard Cushman, owner of Beverly Hills Motorsport on Pomona Avenue, won approval to convert his 1960s-era building at 729 Farad St. into a place for showcasing cars from various decades as well as Formula One-related racing memorabilia.

“I think it’s a great add-on to the city of Costa Mesa,” said Gary Katsaris, Cushman’s representative.

The museum had already won support from neighboring businesses in the form of more than 50 signatures presented to commissioners, and some signers attended Monday’s hearing to express their enthusiasm for the project.

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a long time,” said Jim Liberty of Liberty Motorsports, an auto restoration business. “This part of Costa Mesa is the epicenter of car culture, probably in the world.”

Liberty said he plans to refer clients to the museum when they visit his shop.

Commissioner Robert Dickson agreed that the location is “perfect” for the museum. “It really is the epicenter of car culture,” he said.

The museum’s display areas will occupy about 9,500 square feet of the 12,674-square-foot building. The two-story cafe will offer food service and a small menu.

Katsaris said the museum plans to sell alcohol and is applying for a liquor license.

In addition to regular hours six days a week, the museum will also host special events and membership-only functions.

The building on Farad, first built in 1967, has been used by a variety of tenants over the years, including Books on Tape.

Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick said with the recent addition to the car community, the city’s motto could use an addition as well.

Costa Mesa, he said, could become “the city of the arts and cars.”