When Spencer McCarty was 12-years-old, he got behind the wheel of one of his mechanic-father’s cars and started driving. More than 60 years later, he shows off the work his father taught him at car shows across the United States, but especially in the Historic Triangle.
On Saturday, McCarty drove his 1941 Ford Truck to the Coastal Community Church in Tabb to exhibit his work with many of his friends and fellow enthusiasts at a Classic Cruisers Car Club meet.
Twenty-five years on, the Classic Cruisers Car Club is still loud and proud about preserving America’s motor-country culture while also giving back to the community, according to club spokesman Al Crane
“We come from all different backgrounds in all different parts of the country,” Crane said. “The thing we’re interested in is raising awareness for and raising funds for worthwhile charities ... preserving our automotive heritage and sharing it … and also providing good family fun for the people who reside here and also the visitors to the Historic Triangle.”
In 2017, the club raised more than $12,000 for charity. So far in 2018, the club has raised more than $7,000 for charities such as the Food Bank of the Virginia Peninsula, Edmarc Hospice for Children, Animal Aid Society, Natasha House, Southeastern Alzheimer’s Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Every cent is made on donations, mostly $2 at a time for cruise-ins, according to Crane.
The group doesn’t charge admission fees to attend its meetups.
Crane, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, said the club doesn’t focus on any age group, gender or occupation.
“It’s not just a guy’s club,” Crane said.
Instead, the club focuses on people such as Spencer McCarty — enthusiasts of anything with wheels and engines that are at least 25-years-old, Crane said.
There are many roads to owning a classic car or truck.
For Marci Hunt, 51, of Poquoson, her 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 came into her life after her husband met a man at the post office.
“My husband found the car in Hampton,” Hunt said. “He went to the post office one day and there was an old gentleman there. (The gentleman) said he was going to sell it, so my husband bought it for me. He paid for the car and I paid for the restoration work.”
While the first September cruise-in was comprised mostly of American trucks, cars and even a rat rod, one car stood out as, well, different.
Williamsburg resident Dean Mitchell’s Citroen 2CV6 is bright red with a roll-up roof and distinct styling.
The little French four-door was produced worldwide for decades, but it was in France that Mitchell and his wife saw their first 2CV, he said.
The retired Coast Guard chief was on vacation when he and his wife spotted one.
“We saw these running around and my wife said ‘that is so ugly it’s cute,’ ” Mitchell said.
He found a 2CV6 in Florida, but it took his wife’s convincing before he bought it and had it shipped back to the Colonial Capital.
Mitchell, 79, doesn’t regret a thing. The car hasn’t had any major breakdowns and still makes him smile when he gets behind the wheel.
Now, he said, he drives it through Greater Williamsburg and exhibits it as far away as Hershey, Penn., at an annual Citroen cruise-in.
At the end of the day, the cars and their drivers will come and go, but the Classic Cruisers Car Club continues down the road, club president Blair Armbrister said.
Even after 25 years, the club remains focused on preserving car culture and giving back.
“We go to great lengths to support local charities, not nationwide charities,” Armbrister said. “All the things we have to get for the car shows are covered by members fees so we do 100 percent donations. Everything we raise goes to charity.
“We have fun with our cars and we raise money for charity,” her said.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329 or on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.