If you’ve lived in Emeryville long enough, you’ve probably stumbled upon the monthly Porsche meetups on Harlan Street near the Pixar gate and wandered by to see what was going on. Chances are you were greeted by friendly smiles and answers to your curious questions (and maybe partaken in some complimentary coffee).
Every first Saturday at about 8 a.m. (rain or shine!), vintage models of air-cooled Porsches begin lining the street while their owners and spectators mingle and ‘talk shop’ about their mutual passion for vintage Porsches.
Jim Breazeale’s European Auto Salvage Yard, or ‘EASY’ for short, has been hosting these monthly “Cars & Coffee” meetups for the past two decades. The monthly events have helped make the Emeryville shop a hub for the West Coast Porsche community.
Breazeale recently decided to ‘hang things up’ and sell the building that has housed an incredible selection of vintage Porsche parts for the past forty years.
Jim’s career in salvage began in the mid 1960s while working at a Berkeley salvage yard called ‘Parts Central’ while attending college in pursuit of an accounting degree. Jim’s college career was interrupted by the Vietnam war draft where he did a 14 month tour. He returned to work at Parts Central (later known as ‘All Foreign’) with the hopes of completing his degree. He instead opted to continue his career in salvage after being promoted to a manager.
Jim became passionate about Porsches after buying a 1968 sand beige 912 shortly after returning from Vietnam. He eventually negotiated to acquire All Foreign’s Porsche inventory and venture out on his own. He officially opened the doors of EASY on January 2nd, 1978.
Jim built a reputation for being fair, a mentor and of course having an incredible selection of hard to find Porsche parts. “If Jim didn’t have it, it was a safe bet that no one else would either” noted blogger Ingo Schmoldt.
The meetups began in the late 90’s when a group of diehard Porsche 911 owners began meeting and barbecuing at EASY. “We had a local group of 356 owners, known as the ‘East Bay Grease,’ who would meet at EASY to socialize,” noted Jim’s son Richard in the automotive lifestyle website petrolicious. “On any Saturday, you’d have at least seven or eight 356s lined up on Harlan Street.”
“This get together eventually turned into a monthly event and garnered more interest for other early 911 owners,” noted Porsche enthusiast club R Gruppe founder Cris Huergas. “The camaraderie was always there. Just a bunch of guys getting together on a Saturday morning, talking cars.”
A 2011 appearance on Velocity TV’s Chasing Classic Cars and social media platforms like Instagram helped fuel the discovery of the event and it has grown exponentially since.
Jim is acknowledged as not just a pioneer in the West Coast Porsche community, but one who fostered and brought people together who shared his passion. “Bankers getting greasy alongside UPS drivers and high-school kids” noted 000 Magazine editor Pete Stout in the aforementioned Petrolicious article.
Reproduced parts are now readily available online and things are rapidly changing in Emeryville’s Park Avenue District. Shops like EASY are making way for technology startups, green manufacturing and cannabis operations.
Parts Obsolete in Oregon has acquired some of EASY’s inventory. Jim, his son and employees have spent the better part of a year clearing the warehouse and liquidating the business.
Fortunately, the meetups will live on an Jim has made their continuation a stipulation of selling to the new owners. The new owner has also agreed to keep the historic face of the building intact. “The building will remain virtually identical on the outside, even the EASY sign will stay up,” noted Jim’s son. “While Porsche parts will no longer be for sale, the spirit will live on.”
Petrolicious recently captured an incredible gallery of photos and interviews with the Porsche community that benefitted from Jim’s knowledge and dedication. You can also view a beautiful gallery of photos from the EASY Porsche meetups on TheDrive.com. (or come by the next meetup and see for yourself!).