It’s summer in Highland County, and that means it’s time for classic car owners to show off their rides at cruise-ins and car shows around the area.
The opening act in a series of such events was held last week in the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts in Hillsboro, with a handful of classic wheels on display against a backdrop of rocking tunes from the ’50s and ’60s — and the fun rolls on this coming Saturday in downtown Mowrystown for the village’s first ever Mowrystown Car and Bike Show, where organizers hope more than 100 classic car owners will show up.
As last week drew to a close, the monthly cruise-in at Advance Auto Parts drew about 50 people to the parts store on a sunny Friday evening, where store Manager Kyle Vance said classic cars have gathered regularly for eight years.
“We do this the last Friday of every month and we’re planning on getting a couple more in before the weather gets bad,” Vance told The Times-Gazette.
Far from being just an event where people can stop by and admire restored cars from years ago, this cruise-in had a deeper purpose.
“The event is sponsored by Advance Auto Parts, we put all the money into it,” Vance said. “Any proceeds that are made from it are donated to JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.”
On Friday, fans and enthusiasts alike strolled past classic cars from a bygone era. Some of the cars harkened back to a time when people wore “I Like Ike” buttons, John F. Kennedy was still a junior senator from Massachusetts and gas was just 25 cents a gallon.
Tim Hennison was on hand providing the old time rock ‘n roll sounds, and as a former employee of Advance Auto Parts, he recalled how things began.
“I used to work here when we started putting these things on,” he remembered. “Since I was driving around in this job and saw other car shows like the Steak ‘n Shake show in Milford, I figured we had enough guys around so we could start this one here.”
The cruise-in isn’t limited to just showroom quality restoration, Hennison said.
“It doesn’t have to be a finished car,” he said, pointing out some old-timers in the lot that were in need of some body work or a paint job. “Whatever you’re working on, just bring it.”
Hennison’s current project is restoration of a 1946 Chevy pickup truck.
While all the cars on display have a story behind them, one of the “stars” of the show was a cherry red 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with a retractable metal top.
Ray Martin of Mowrystown, the owner of the car, was very proud of the fact the interior and all the glass were original. Other than being re-painted and having a new set of tires, the car is as it appeared when it rolled off the assembly line 61 years ago.
“I bought it from a friend who had it restored in 2000,” Martin recalled. “We lived about a half a mile apart down on Wildcat Road and I tried to buy it from him then but he just laughed at me.”
Martin at the time had a 1953 Ford, and said he and his friend would park their cars in the yard just to watch people slow down and gawk at them as they went by. He eventually was able to buy the car when his neighbor passed away.
“I won’t tell you what I paid for it,” he said. “But back in 1957, it sold for $2,700 brand new.”
After the cruise-in at the parts store, car enthusiasts flocked to Hillsboro again on Saturday for the Kroger Klassic Car Show at the Hobart parking lot.
Registration for the Mowrystown show this weekend begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and judging begins at 1 p.m., according to Mowrystown Village Councilwoman Kristin Spitzmagel, who is also president of the show committee.
“In addition to cars, bikes and trucks, there will be lots of food, fun for the kids and even a gun raffle,” Spitzmagel said.
The show will wrap up at 4 p.m.
Tim Colliver can be reached at 937-402-2571.