It was a cool cloudy morning on the Pacific Coast Highway when we met up with Doug Campbell and his Shelby Daytona Coupe.
The car, part of a fleet of modern vintage racers sold by Irvine-based Superformance and built by the South African company Hi-Tech Automotive, is a replica of the coupe Peter Brock designed in the 1960s to help Carroll Shelby challenge Ferrari on the race track.
Wearing period-correct livery and a slightly altered body, the updated version is driven by a 427-cubic-inch engine that makes 550 horsepower and 500 pound feet of torque.
Campbell, a car fancier who works with Superformance, was letting us borrow the car for an exploratory drive around some of the local Malibu roads.
Having familiarized ourselves with the powerful “replicar” — and gotten acquainted with its stiff clutch, tight gearbox and muscular steering — we headed north on PCH. At Latigo Canyon Road, we turned east and headed up the hill.
Latigo is a twisty goat trail of a road. Winding and narrow, it rises steeply away from the coast through low-growing oak and bay laurel trees.
We dipped in and out of the fog as we climbed away from the coast, enjoying the growling engine and the tight suspension through series after series of hairpin turns.
By the time we hit Kanan Dume Road, the sun was out and the air was hot. We stopped at Malibu Cafe, a quiet spot tucked inside Calamigos Ranch, for a refreshing drink.
Calamigos Ranch, a 130-acre farmstead in the heart of the Malibu wine country, is an event center that dates from the 1940s. Popular for weddings and anniversary parties, its Malibu Cafe is open to the public and serves a menu of California cuisine. (I like the fried chicken mac-n-cheese and the Angus beef burger.)
Refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready for some more canyon carving, we got back into the Shelby Daytona Coupe and headed west on Mulholland Highway.
This stretch of road is a little faster than Latigo, but it’s still filled with twists and turns, and the car required all my attention. I was ready for a break when, half an hour later, we came to Mulholland’s end — back at PCH.
It was time for a bite of lunch, so we turned north and drove a short distance to Neptune’s Net, a seafood restaurant and popular way station for motorcycles and exotic cars. (They’re known for their chowder and their fresh fish tacos.)
The challenging Shelby car had taken a lot out of me. On another day, I might have driven back up Mulholland and retraced my route back down Latigo.
But it was a warm midafternoon, and a gentle breeze was blowing, and the traffic was light. Deciding to take it easy, I rolled the windows down, breathed in the sweet ocean air, and drove slowly down PCH to Malibu.
Where we went: Pacific Coast Highway to Latigo Canyon Road to Mulholland Highway
What we drove: 2010 Shelby Daytona Coupe
What to see: Calamigos Ranch, local wineries, and wonderful ocean views
Where to eat: The Malibu Cafe, 327 Latigo Canyon Rd.; (818) 540-2400; open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Monday; Neptune’s Net, 42505 Pacific Coast Highway; (310) 457-3095; open daily 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Total drive distance: 45 miles
Total driving and dining time: 2 to 3 hours